Seven Non-Writing Tasks for Authors

By Margaret Graton

Realistically, writing and editing are not where an author’s day ends, even for those who have made writing their full-time career. Here are seven tips to guide your non-writing time!

1 Read like a writer.

Luckily, most writers are also readers. You can find another post on this here. It’s completely normal to sit down and read to enjoy the books. After all, that’s often why we chose to write in the first place; however, reading intentionally will definitely make you a better writer. Read both in your own writing genre and outside of it! You may learn useful new vocab, great dialogue, or other tools that inspire your own writing style. 

2. Build a network.

Whether you’re already published or just starting, it’s time to use social media, websites, and blogs to your advantage. Are you an artist as well? Draw, paint, or animate concept art for your characters and settings! Tweet about your book, your writing process, your favorite writing spot, or things that inspire you. Talk to readers: tease favorite snippets from your book on your blog or social media as you write. If you build up a following before and during your writing, you’ll have fans when the book is released who will write reviews and ask when your next book is coming out!

3. Take notes (technically this might be “writing”…or not).

Constantly gather material for your books, since inspiration might strike at any moment. Hear a name or a conversation that you like while waiting on your to-go order? Have a moment of inspiration when describing a problem or a funny story to a friend? Don’t let these go to waste! You might think you’ll never use these notes, but returning to these inspirations later could help dig you out of a writing slump. If you’re more visually driven, take photos of inspiring places, people, and moments to make mood boards!

4. Join a community.

It doesn’t have to be a writing or editing community, though those are an integral part of the writing process. It could be a book club, a gaming group, a yoga class, or a weekly painting workshop. Interact with stories, and with people -and make sure you bring your notebook from point #3! The more you interact with other folks, the more you can write relatable and believable characters. 

5. Set a schedule and become more disciplined with deadlines.

Even when you are not actively writing, set self-imposed deadlines and actually meet them, then reward yourself when you do! The chores and distractions of everyday life can be hectic, and it’s all too easy to go from “I have the whole day ahead of me” to “where did all the time go” in a few hours, with no writing to show for it. If you work on setting deadlines and sticking to a routine, you might find some extra writing productivity lurking in a seemingly packed schedule. 

6. Take breaks.

While setting a schedule is important, so is cutting yourself some slack and taking breaks, for both your physical and mental health. Taking breaks is key to kill writer’s block or to kickstart the most productive of writing days–we don’t want to get carpal tunnel or ruin our eyesight by staring at the screen too long!  Have a hobby that isn’t centered on your writing: potentially more than one, especially if one hobby gets you up, moving, and away from your desk, computer/notebook, and obligations! 

7. Read about or take classes on writing/editing.

Whether you’re a seasoned author or you’re just now asking “how do I write a novel?” taking some writing and/or editing courses might be a good way to hone your skills. For a free option, check out the library catalog or events calendar. Take weekend workshops or sign up for a course at a local university or community college or choose from among thousands of options online. You might even consider running the classes or workshops yourself; it’s said that the best learning stems from teaching! 

In the end, “the writing process” involves so much more than the time it takes to physically put words on paper and edit them into a workable book. Use the time you aren’t spending actually writing and editing to enhance your writing career!

Margaret Graton is an assistant at Holloway Literary. Follow Margaret on Twitter @MLanders13.