Jane Austen had it easy ...
Don’t get me wrong, writing books is hard, even harder in longhand, but Jane never had to deal with posting on Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads and Instagram. I also doubt the local postman rocked up on her doorstep every couple of weeks and handed her a letter that read, “Jane, your followers haven’t heard from you lately.” FaceBook can be like a needy boyfriend at times.
Jane did write in excess of 3,000 letters in her lifetime, of which only 160 remain apparently due to their content. That wouldn’t happen today. Write anything unguarded on social media and you can be sure someone will take a screenshot. You can delete that lapse in judgement as many times as you like and it won’t matter. Imagine what an interesting read the letters her family thought biting enough to destroy would be.
Yesterday, I spent ten hours working on book-related activities. That’s not writing, but all the other activities writers need to handle in this the new age of publishing. I updated my website, wrote and assembled my newsletter, edited my latest subscriber-only novelette and managed an hour on Twitter to avoid my Twitter feed consisting solely of retweets. Tweeting is easy when things are happening in your life, but when it’s a case of get up—writing and marketing for three hours—go to your day job—get home—collapse in a heap—repeat, it’s difficult to make it sound even vaguely interesting. Before you ask, my cooking isn’t up to being tweeted.
Of course, Jane didn’t have access to Scrivener or the like to keep track of her writing. I should imagine looking at a teetering pile of handwritten pages and knowing you needed to go through and update one small point would have been daunting. It can still be daunting in the electronic age. Jane, however, did have the luxury of time. She didn’t need to work to eat.
Just as Jane would have had a diary to keep track of all the soirees, tea parties and ‘at-homes’ that filled her social life, I need to get myself organised, freeing myself up to write in decent blocks while not neglecting the marketing side of the business. And I do regard my writing as a business rather than a hobby. If it wasn’t for that pesky day job, I’d be home free, and a lot thinner given I wouldn’t be able to afford groceries. That’s a win-win, right?
And so I’m going to get myself a spreadsheet and allocate blocks of time for everything including lying down and reading a book, for pleasure. The more books I write, the more time I’ll have to write. There’s a cliché that covers this, I’m sure. Of course, I’d have to delete that when I put this blog through SmartEdit. Okay, maybe I do have it easier than Jane.