Too Many Writing Projects, Not Enough Time

I have a habit of taking on quite a few writing-related projects at once. I'm a blogger and freelance business writer for my clients. I run numerous websites and blogs of my own. And I write books and e-books. There never seems to be enough time in my work days, and lately I've found myself putting in extra hours far too often -- something I usually try hard to avoid.

As a result, I've had to find ways to scale back some projects, or at least the amount of my personal attention they each need. I'm still putting some of these things into place, so only time will tell if it works out as planned. But here are some of those plans for those writers who might find themselves in similar situations.

  • Some of the sites I planned to launch this year will wait. 
  • Other sites I planned to launch this year will launch in a different format -- static sites with up front content rather than regularly-updated blogs for example.
  • Some of my blogs in similar niches will be merged to cut down on the number of posts I have to write regularly (and to cut down on updates, design work, and administration issues).
  • I've had to re-work my three year publishing plan, pushing some shorter projects up and moving some longer works further down the pipeline.
  • I'm taking on fewer new clients (as I'm moving from freelance work to full-time Web, book, and e-book publishing over time).
  • I'm letting my contributors handle the content on several smaller sites, where I'll either stop personally writing posts or I'll cut back significantly.

That's not to say I won't have plenty of things going on. For example, I still have three separate business-related websites that I need to maintain. Fortunately those don't involve frequent updates. This blog will stick around, although there will be some branding changes in the future. My small business blog will stay, and I'll try to update there at least weekly in addition to the other contributors. I have three pen names for my fiction writing work and each of those names has its own site / blog I have to manage and update (although they won't be updated as frequently as some other blogs). And I still have quite a few projects in the works under those pen names like a children's book that's written and soon ready for edits, a short story series in one genre, and a novel-in-progress in another genre.

Things won't be any less busy. They'll just be more focused on my core projects and Web properties. For example, I'll have more time to write for key blogs, guest post elsewhere, work on new features and products, and to handle more thorough marketing and PR campaigns. I'm also hoping it will allow me to enjoy my work a bit more rather than getting so overwhelming.

It's funny how that happens sometimes. We can love our jobs and still be overwhelmed in them. And when that happens, we have to take the reigns and get things back on track. Things are going well. But I want them to go even better. These changes are designed to help me do that.

What about you? Do you ever feel like you're taking so much on that you don't see as much progress as you'd like on specific projects? If that's happened to you, what did you do about it? Did you work more? Did you cut back? A bit of both? Tell me about it in the comments.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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11 thoughts on “Too Many Writing Projects, Not Enough Time”

  1. I am just starting out in freelance writing, so new that I’m building a portfolio, but I feel overwhelmed by the amount of learning, preparation, research and marketing that must precede attempting to establish myself in this career. Overwhelmed is my middle name right now.

  2. I hear you, Jenn. I just made some enormous cuts and changes in my own schedule, and I’m making some more right now.

  3. I’ve scaled back which has helped me define what I want to write. I have two books finished in my children’s picture book series and have been tweeting excerpts from Book One as a way to build my author platform. I am looking into crowdfunding to raise money for self-publishing, if I go that route. I haven’t given up on finding a literary agent. Plus, I still have to finish my middle grade. But I am thinking about taking it in a different direction. I haven’t decided for sure. I need to look at my outline

    My personal development books are published under a pen name. I don’t know how writers with three or more pen names keep their writing and platforms straight. I can handle one, maybe two pen names. When you do a book signing, people will know who you really are thanks to the internet. Lately, I’ve been thinking if using a pen name is relevant in the 21st century. Back in the day it was easier but now the internet and social media kind of complicates things.

    Focusing on the writing that I enjoy has been worth it. I now have a clearer picture about what I want to write (personally and professionally) and the message I want to bring to the world.

    I have decided to let one of my blogs go. Although, I haven’t deleted it yet. I’ve been too busy with a ghostwriting project and developing my author platform. Next week I begin working with a business/marketing coach so I’ll have homework to do on top of writing. 🙂

    • I’m happy to see someone else working on picture books! 🙂 I finished drafting my first and am working on the base illustrations now. My plan was indie publishing, but I might pitch these to publishers if I get a few ready. I did some research this morning on publishers, so I’ll be looking into a few and deciding if it might be the better bet.

      As for the pen names, it can get a bit crazy (and I’m still in the early phases of platform development for mine). But fortunately the work is different enough that I can usually keep things straight. What I’m focused on now is finding a way to streamline those updates — what to read and comment on, post, share, etc. with each different audience. There is some overlap though, and I’m hoping that will be a good thing in the long run in that I can cross-promote. We’ll see how that works. I kept the two in the most similar niches (mysteries and horror) as similar names, so if I ever do need to consolidate things a bit it shouldn’t be too big of a transition.

      As with anything, I guess it’s all about finding balance. Projects will come and go, and in the end the goal is just to be better off with the changes we have to make. 🙂

  4. Hey. I have the same kind issue. Freelance work piles up and then my personal projects get pushed back more and more. I had hoped to build two blogs but they seem to be on the back burner. Super annoying. Then I have books as well. It seems like a never ending drama of work. It’s a love hate relationship. I often wish I had a friend to vent to , but I don’t so I’m all alone just “dealing with it”. Anyways… How do you keep all your projects and tasks organized? Do you use a project manager online? Which one? I’m always actively searching for a project manager that can not only keep my motivated but on track. I hope your plan works; I understand the stresses . Good luck and thanks for sharing it. 🙂

    • I completely get the love-hate relationship aspect. Fortunately the love side of the equation usually wins out. 🙂

      Don’t worry about feeling alone just yet. Keep networking, join a forum, etc. and you’ll find there are plenty of writers in the same boat.

      To stay organized, I do a few things. First, I joined Lori Widmer and Anne Wayman’s forum. There I post my weekly to-do list. Even though I know I probably won’t get through everything (I prefer to over-estimate than under-estimate), there’s a certain sense of accountability when you know other people can see your progress or lack thereof.

      I also keep daily to do lists. Sometimes I do this using index cards so they’re always on my desk. Sometimes I use an app on my phone. Right now I’m using and a corresponding Android app to stay on top of things. This is my first week using that particular app. I’ve also used Astrid and Tasks n Todos, and I like them both as well. And then there are longer-term scheduling tools like my 3-year publishing plan which I just updated this morning, project to do lists and calendars, etc. I’m a big advocate of business planning. In our freebies section (link in the top navigation bar) you can find a few templates I personally use — a one page business plan template, one page marketing plan template, one page project planner, etc. They’re a big help when I just need to get my thoughts down on paper. Once I do that, I can whip them out when I need to get myself back on track.

  5. I had big plans for 2013 to be the year of publishing but my memorial quilt business has really taken off and is taking precedence over writing. Oh well. To everything there is a season, right?


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