Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Time Wise: An Author Survey

As I wobble with coltish legs on my journey to becoming an author, I've realized something: It takes Time. I know, shouldn't have been a great epiphany. To help me get an idea of how other others do it, and to get a little advice, I went to some of my favorite authors and asked them how they manage their time. The answers are enlightening!

Question 1How many hours per week do you spend on your writing career? (including writing, editing, blogs, social media, etc)

I wasn't surprised to see that the majority of authors I interviewed spend the equivalent of a full time job on their writing. 

Here's what Stephani Hecht had to say about her writing hours:

Stephani Hecht: Treat your writing as you would any other job and give it the attention and dedication it deserves. All successful writers say that you need to write each and every day to make it and I agree, writing should be more than a hobby, it should be what motivates you to get up every morning.

Question 2: Of that time, what percentage is spent writing your books (not including any blog posts or interviews)?

True confession time: This is where I get caught up! I've heard other writers saying the same thing, and often see Facebook posts that say "Shutting this down so I can work!". 

It was good to see that it wasn't just me! Most of the authors I interviewed spend around 25% of their time doing things other than actually writing. 

Here's what T.J. Klune and Clare London have to say about it:

T.J. Klune: Don’t let the social media aspect of becoming a writer end up taking up more of your time than the actual writing.  It’s very easy to get sucked into Facebook, a blog, or any other number of social sites.  That being said, social media is a wonderful tool to help promote new works and it also allow readers contact with the authors they like.  Use these sites wisely!

Clare London: It’s very easy to tip over the balance into more blogging/chatting than writing. It’s important to be accessible, to make friendships, to network, to support other writers, to listen to feedback from readers. But the reason most of us got into the business is to write, so that should be your prime concern. Most people engage with your fiction, not necessarily you, and they’re always keen for more. It also gets more and more difficult to balance everything, the more books you have out. It’s great to build a backlist, but each one adds another call for attention. It’s what I call a snowball effect. So I don’t think everyone should periodically recalibrate the percentage of question (2) to give more time for writing! J

Question 3: How does the rest of your time break down in percentages?

No fancy graphs for this one. The results were pretty simple. When not writing, the authors I interviewed divided their time pretty equally between editing and social media. 

Here's what Mary Calmes and Stormy Glenn had to say about it: 

Mary Calmes: I think that as far as time management goes, I get sucked into checking review sites, looking at Good Reads, and not spending that quality “awake” time writing. I wish I was a better blogger, but unlike others, I don’t think I have anything that interesting to say. And as I am completely tech challenged, chatting moves WAY too fast for me. I always think of something witty to say after the topic has moved on. I think that promising to write at least 3 hours every single day is an excellent commitment. If you do that, at the minimum, 7 days a week, your story will stay fresh in your mind.

Stormy Glenn: Time management is a tricky thing. I can have one day where everything flows perfectly and I get tons of work done. Others days, I get emails, phone calls, general interruptions, and nothing goes right. This biggest piece of advice is one I used when raising six kids all born in the same 5 yr period, operating a daycare for fifteen years, and writing (this includes general writing, blogs, social media, editing, and dealing with the world in general as a writer)…"You are going to have a hundred battles a day. You are only going to win ten. So, pick the most important battles and forget the rest."

Question 4: Any words of wisdom/advice/warnings on time management and its importance to your career?

Ellis Carrington: Write every day, and don’t hurry too much. Take the occasional writing course through a place like or the Romance Writers of America, and do basic stuff like run spell checker. No matter how much you know, you can always learn more. 

M.J. O'Shea: I guess my advice is you have to know how fast you write and go from there. If you're someone who can pull out a chapter in an hour or two, then you can spend more time messing around (or keep working and have more books out!) If you work slowly when you're writing and are more of a perfectionist in the early drafts, don't let the internet distract you as often:)  

Eric Arvin: Don’t spend too much time on any one project. If it’s giving you a hard time put it away for a bit.           Give it time to form.

Looks like I have some work to do! Some great advice here, and what I learned is this:
If I'm going to commit 40 hours per week to my writing career, at least 30 hours (75%) should be spent actually writing. The remaining 10 hours can be divided between Social Media and Editing. 

Easy enough. I suppose that means I'd better shut down Facebook and get to writing! Thanks to my fellow authors who answered my questions. You can find more information about them below. 


Eric Arvin resides in the same sleepy Indiana river town where he grew up. He graduated from Hanover College with a Bachelors in History. He has lived, for brief periods, in Italy and Australia. He has survived brain surgery and his own loud-mouthed personal demons. Eric is the author of GALLEY PROOF, WOKE UP IN A STRANGE PLACE, SUBSURDITY, SIMPLE MEN, and various other sundry and not-so-sundry writings. He intends to live the rest of his days with tongue in cheek and eyes set to roam. You can find Eric at: 

Mary Calmes currently lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, with her husband and two children and hopes to eventually move off the rock to a place where her children can experience fall and even winter. She graduated from the University of the Pacific (ironic) in Stockton, California, with a bachelor's degree in English literature. Due to the fact that it is English lit and not English grammar, do not ask her to point out a clause for you, as it will so not happen. She loves writing, becoming immersed in the process, and falling into the work. She can even tell you what her characters smell like. She works at a copy store but has been unable to incorporate that into a book... yet. She also buys way too many books on Amazon.  You can find Mary at:

Ellis Carrington is a wild child who hates to color in the lines, but who lives and loves passionately. Ellis can be found in and around the Washington D.C. area, swilling Starbucks with her real or imaginary buddies. Her greatest loves are good friends, good music, and of course reading M/M romance. Find out more at, on Facebook, or on Twitter. Her latest is a contemporary short story from Dreamspinner Press called Feeling Neighborly.Also coming soon, a sexy boy-meets-vampire romance about a one-night stand on Valentine’s Day that becomes forever. Look for Immortal Valentine on 2/12 from Amber Allure:

Stormy believes the only thing sexier than a man in cowboy boots is two or three men in cowboy boots. She also believes in love at first sight, soul Mates, true love, and happy endings. You can usually find her cuddled in bed with a book in her hand and a puppy in her lap, or on her laptop, creating the next sexy man for one of her stories. Stormy welcomes comments from readers.
You can find her at:

Stephani Hecht is a happily married mother of two. Born and raised in Michigan, she loves all things about the state, from the frigid winters to the Detroit Red Wings hockey team. Go Wings! You can usually find her snuggled up to her laptop, creating her next book or gorging on caffeine at her favorite coffee shop. You can find Stephani at:

TJ Klune is the author of Bear, Otter, and the Kid.  His new novel, Burn, releases 2.6.12 from Dreamspinner Press.  He can be found at Facebook under TJ Klune and his blog is

Clare took the pen name London from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with the weekly wash, waiting for the far distant day when she can afford to give up her day job as an accountant. She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy.  Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic and sexy characters. Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home. All the details and free fiction are available at her website. Visit her today and say hello!

M.J. O'Shea has been writing romance since algebra class in sixth grade (when most of her stories starred her and Leonardo DiCaprio). When she's not writing, she loves listening to nearly all types of music, painting, reading great authors, and on those elusive sunny days in the Pacific Northwest, she loves driving on the freeway with her windows rolled down and her stereo on high. You can find M.J. at: 

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