Monday 19 June 2023

The Trials Of An Indie Author: Sleepless Nights & Other Matters


If you've been around my socials for any length of time, you'll know that I am a very early riser (sometimes much to my chagrin) and get all my work done in the wee hours. It started out where I would wake up naturally around 4/5am and then it made sense to get the work done and out of the way before everyone else in the house, and my circle, woke up and needed things from me. In the past year or so I've started waking up even earlier, like midnight to 3am and as I sit here writing this blog post, it's almost 4am and I've been up since around 1am. So I know something about sleepless nights, and while it sounds like it's just a me thing, I know, from talking to other indie authors, that it's very much not.

When I first started writing, I always struggled with insomnia, which was hilarious to me because two of my chronic conditions cause fatigue so you'd think I'd be sleeping all the time, not the case. However, whenever I would see things like the 5am writers club on Twitter and the like, I'd seriously wonder who would do that willingly, because even though I couldn't always sleep, I didn't feel up to doing anything during that time. It's really only been the last two or three years that I've found I can be somewhat productive during the middle of the night, and while I've never embraced the hashtag on Twitter, since I find I write better on my own without distractions, I am very much a member of the club.

So what does this have to do with being an indie author? Well, I know I've talked before about there is a whole lot that indie authors (and trad pub as well to be fair) have to get done for releases, for writing, editing, promoting and all the rest of it. It's been something where I've found that because I'm in the UK, and a lot of the writers I know are elsewhere in the world, and a lot of the promo groups are in the US, this is a serious advantage for me to be awake, willingly, at these hours of the day. I can get so much done, and it allows me to reach out to promo groups and the like, and get instant, or almost instant responses. It also means that by about 9am my time, I'm done for the day because those conditions that cause fatigue may wake me super early, but they don't always allow me to function beyond that small window of time.

Now I am not, in any way, saying that to be a successful indie author that you have to get up at 5am or some other time of the wee hours. Not in the slightest. I know that there are all kinds of different writers out there who are morning writers, evening writers, middle of the night writers, afternoon writers and so on. You've got to do what works for you, and you've got to take care of yourself. My circumstances are my own, and they allow for me to do what I need to get done, but they also seriously curtail my social life because although I try to sleep past those early mornings on days off, or other days, I can't get back to sleep, and then by about 4pm, I'm ready for bed, so that's the payoff, and while I'm, mostly, okay with that, it can seriously suck!

But one of those things I've learned is that there are ups and downs of all parts of the indie life. It's not easy for any of us, even those who are making six figures and the like, they work hard, we all work hard. That applies to trad pub too, being an author of any kind is not and has never been easy. Part of being indie is that a lot of the time, you have to do a whole lot to be able to be successful. Now I wouldn't call myself successful in the true sense of the word, since while I am a full time author, it doesn't pay me full time, but I will say that I have gotten better at juggling all the hats indies have to wear (piece here) because of my whacked up sleep schedule.

It's one of those things that you don't really realise until you're in the thick of things and starting to manage it all. When I first got into planning my time, all those years ago, and went with the sticky notes (piece here) and then moved onto paper planners, I didn't really fathom just how I was spending my time. Now that I track (almost) every work thing I do (piece here), it's really opened my eyes to just what I'm doing, and how many hours I'm putting in.

Of course I have that added twist of only being able to manage, at most, three hours a day of work before my body waves that little white flag and I have no choice but to call it quits. That will throw a wrench in the works for me, as it would for anyone, because sometimes you need to be doing more to be able to manage and promote and the like. That said, I'm pretty pleased with what I pull off, though I would love to be able to do more, because I think it would really help me go from being a small fish, to one that is maybe a tiny bit bigger. But that's just how life works.

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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