KLAC Baltimore Book Festival 2014

Me, Ellen Jensen Abbott, Alissa Grosso, Alison Ashley Formento, and Tim Young – Baltimore Book Festival 2014

… being a full time author?

I get this question a lot these days.  I think non-writers picture me clicky-clacking away at dozens of new books, sitting at a desk all day with coffee by my side. Fellow writers probably know better!  (One day last week I figured out I was writing at a rate of 155.4 words per hour. Yes, I stopped writing to do the math. Then I Tweeted about it. This may have been part of the problem.)

The hardest thing for me to get used to has been the unstructured days – especially coming from 25 years of teaching when my days were scheduled down to the minute and I had to plan my bathroom breaks. I’m getting better at managing my time now, setting two or three goals per day which may include new words in the WIP, blog posts and blog visits, creating marketing materials, exercise, or preparing for upcoming events. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to take a day off here and there.

Baltimore BF at night

Festival booths lit up at night — Baltimore Book Festival 2014

I’ve been able to take on new responsibilities too: moderating a FB group and setting up an online critique group through my local SCBWI chapter. I’ve been able to book myself for more events than I could possibly have handled if I was teaching. You can see by my schedule on the sidebar that I’ve got a lot going on this fall, and that list doesn’t even include private events like school visits.

Caged Graves tshirt

When the dead don’t stay where you put them …

I was able to attend all three days of the Baltimore Book Festival at the end of September, sharing a booth with KidLit Author Club members Tim Young, Alissa Grosso, Ellen Jensen Abbott, and Alison Ashley Formento. Those were three LONG, HOT days. (Never crossed my mind to pack shorts for the end of September …) But the venue was beautiful. A ton of people stopped to read the Caged Graves t-shirt or look at the photos on my poster board. I also learned that wearing a Doctor Who t-shirt was a great conversation starter. I plan to repeat that smart move at the Collingswood Festival this weekend!

Doctor Who tshirt for festival

My villain t-shirt from the Doctor Who Museum at Cardiff, Wales was a great conversation starter.

All in all, I’m learning how to be more productive with my unstructured days. I’m happy to be out of the stressful environment that was sapping my health, and my calendar is filling up with the kinds of author events I always watched enviously from the sidelines (ie: my FB and Twitter feed in spare moments at my teacher’s desk).

I’m happy.