When I first moved to New York, I had no friends, no relationship, no job, and I was working on one thing. Ten years later, I've founded a monthly storytelling night (one show in New York, one in Sydney), am co-writing a TV pilot, am promoting a novel and writing another novel, and that's just the things I can tell you about (yes, there are more fun secret things I can hopefully announce v.soon)! I've had to learn how to manage having multiple, demanding ventures. Here are my tips.
1. Before you say yes, take stock. It can be exhilarating or feel necessary to say yes to everything. Before you do, get clear on the time and energy required and what you're getting back. I have worked on many, many things that took up a ton of my time for very little reward or outcome. I've largely stopped applying for grants and residencies, and entering competitions, for that reason. The outcome does not need to be monetary: it can be a brand lift, forge an important relationship, or just plain fun. But if it's not lucrative and it's tiring, really think through whether it's a good opportunity, or whether your time and energy is spent better elsewhere, even if that means saying no or letting someone down.
2. Prioritize. If it is a project worth adding to your busy schedule, be clear on its place in the pecking order. For me, my number one priority right now is the pilot script. I'm being paid for it and it offers the most potential for me professionally. So that work happens before anything else. Don't prioritize based on what's easiest or most enjoyable: hard things are hard, and you must favor what is most important.
3. Understand your own rhythms. I'm the most focused and clear-headed in the morning, and I slowly lose focus over the day, burning out by about 7p. I leave what's least important and doesn't require as much brain activity till the end of the day.
4. Set generous deadlines, for yourself and others. If you can, underpromise and overdeliver. Give yourself a bit more time than you think you'll need, and be clear on what that time is. You're only human: know your limits and don't expect to burn the midnight oil every damn day.
5. Rest. I'm an introvert, so I require a lot of deeply restful alone time. For me, nothing is more relaxing than catching up on my shows (with a big glass of wine, of course). I build this into my schedule. It's as important as exercise, and time with friends and my girlfriend.
I've been so touched by all the positive reader feedback for The Bucket List, from women of all ages (cue, adorable shot of Miss Evie). Thank you so much for your kind Instagrams, emails, tweets, and reviews. It's still very hard to sell novels in this distracted day and age, so telling your community about what you're reading really does help authors like me. If you haven't bought your copy yet, what are you waiting for?! Buy on Amazon now!