Welcome behind the scenes to the world of a self-published author, where each day is a rollercoaster of creativity, numbers, and the pursuit of dreams. Join me as I peel back the layers to show you the fun and drudgery of a day in my life as a writer, editor, cover designer, marketer, and advertiser.
6:00 AM: Checking Stats, State of Health, & Engagement
The day begins with a 10-minute check-in. During this time, I start by quickly checking sales, advertisement status, the upcoming goals for writing/editing, and my physical and mental health. All of these things will decide how I spend my day. Do I need to tweak my ads? Should I proofread a certain chapter? Is my chronic illness screwing with my ability to think? And more.
6:10 AM: Have Fun, Skim the News, & Say, “Hi.”
Limiting my first social media engagement to 10-minute stints is important for me because I could spend way more time on it than I feel is healthy. Having a hard stop helps me a ton. I respond to posts that came in overnight and get back to friends. I quickly scan the news and bookmark reads for later.
6:20 - 8:00 AM: Take care of all the things
This is my most energetic time of the day, so it’s important for me to take care of what I can before my chronic illness saps my strength. It can’t be fun all the time…
8:00 AM: Pound Out the Words
Mornings, to me, are sacred. It's when the muse is at its strongest, nudging me to weave words and stories. With my chronic illness and the notorious brain fog that comes with it, I've learned to treasure this window of clarity. As my pain mounts, I immerse myself in writing to escape my body. The story unfolds, characters come to life, and the keyboard becomes an extension of my thoughts.
8:00 AM: An Alternate Option
Let's be real. The muse doesn't always turn on when I hit the switch. Sometimes inspiration strikes at odd hours, and I've learned to be flexible. One of my tricks is to have three projects at different stages. This means I can switch from story formation to concluding a story to editing/revising. If my mind can engage, but my inner storyteller won’t, it’s time to tinker and turn. This can take the form of looking for passive sentences to replacing words I use as crutches.
BREAKS & REST
I take breaks every half hour to nourish my body and reset my mind. Standing and walking downstairs to top off on caffeine generally keeps my legs, back, and arms from seizing up. A 30-second stretch also helps. Often, I grab a small snack to keep my energy up. These breaks free my mind to step back and work on my writing/editing from a different perspective. If I have time, I’ll hit social media until my alarm goes off.
These breaks also give me good points to check in with myself and the day. Sometimes, I’ve lost my muse or my brain has checked out when it comes to editing. If that’s the case, I change gears. My motto is, “Do what I can when I can,” and sometimes that just means laying on the couch with my eyes closed, listening to a podcast.
Noon-ish: Nourish & Recharge
I like to multi-task when I eat. This might involve catching up on the news or checking in with friends/family. Sometimes it means listening to an audiobook with my eyes closed and petting my dog with my foot. If the weather is nice, I might hit the patio for a little vitamin D.
This is perhaps the most important time to pivot my day. If lunch gave me more energy, I might be able to get another hour or two tapping at the keyboard. Most of the time, I admit defeat to my chronic illness.
12:30 - 2:30 PM: Not Just Fun
While I do enjoy a good nap, it’s a pain when you have to take one because the body demands it nearly every day. Unlike for healthy people, it isn’t just a thing of convenience. My body will straight up shut down, and I’ll fall asleep wherever I am. You may be saying, shorter naps are better. I’d love to agree, but health being what it is, chronic fatigue does what it wants.
2:30 - 3:00 PM: Caffeine Up
I don’t know about you, but I often wake up from a long nap in sleepy mode. It’s a great time for me to turn to tasks that require less focus, including things like social media, dishes, or listening to audiobooks. When possible, I plan out and follow through with the simpler tasks of marketing, like blog posts, contacting podcast hosts, or adjusting an ad’s budget.
3:00 - 5:00 PM: Handling Reality
All the things happen in this time. Driving kids. Cooking. Checking off chores. I’ve found a bunch of life hacks to make these things easier on my body, such as chopping carrots with my non-dominant hand while sitting on a high stool and ordering food so I can save my minimal standing for home.
5:00 - 7:00 PM: Wordlessness
After dinner, my ability to put words together is about as easy as squeezing dry cement through a straw. The less I write or even speak, the better off everyone is. I might waste away time with mindless games like solitaire or soothing color-between-the-lines apps. Oftentimes, I take a second nap. Yes. I know. Two naps? My body demands what my body demands.
On occasion, I work on graphic design, which I find relaxing and sometimes leads to cover art. Usually, it involves digitally painting over other people’s artwork (licensed if posted). Very little of it sees the light of day.
7:00 - 9:00 PM: Total Shutdown
By this point, I have nothing left in the tank, but can’t fall asleep yet. If you’ve never heard of spoon theory, you might want to take a look. Using up too much energy (measured in spoonfuls) draws from the spoons the next day. So, I’ll watch TV (or listen) and completely check out. I would go to sleep sooner, but the pain meds wear off if I sleep too long overnight.
A Different Schedule
I sometimes sleep in on weekends (when my body lets me). Either way, relaxing and family time is a higher priority than self-publishing. When I have a hankering to work on publishing, I tend to do less creative things like writing blog posts, uploading a manuscript to Kindle Direct Publishing, or researching something I might need for my work in progress.
A Constant Task
Being a self-published author is a journey of passion, resilience, and a touch of magic. It's about embracing the creative process while navigating the practicalities of marketing and business. Each day is a unique chapter, and the beauty lies in the blend of discipline and spontaneity.
Through the highs and lows, the moments of inspiration, and the challenges of managing chronic illness, I've discovered that the key is not just in the grand gestures but in the consistency of small, manageable tasks. It's a dance that requires resilience and persistence.
Here's to the dreamers, the storytellers, and the magic-makers. May your journey be as fulfilling as the stories you create. Until tomorrow, when the sun rises again, and the cycle begins anew.
As always, I appreciate your support of self-publishing and indie authors. In the name of putting myself out there, here are a few of my works.