Break It Down to Avoid a Breakdown

If you read my post about all the hats we writers wear, you can see how overwhelming our tasks can be, and also see why so many authors get burnt out. With so many tasks to accomplish, how can we do it without having a mental breakdown? Simple: break it down.

Marketing is a huge task, and ideally all the many moving parts should combine into an overarching whole. But if I look at the marketing plan as a whole it seems un-doable. Mind-shattering—especially for a deep introvert like me. So I break it down.

Breaking down is not a new concept to any writer. We do this all the time when we write, particularly when we revise. Trying to fix everything in every chapter on one pass is impossible—we would inevitably miss something. So we break down the editing into multiple passes. We do one for structure, one for chronology, one for character arc, one for dialogue, one for grammar, etc. We take a huge, overwhelming task and break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks.

Revision Chart for The Curse of the Pharaoh's Stone

Marketing is another mammoth task that can paralyze me with its sheer magnitude. So I have to break it down. I choose one or two tasks a day to accomplish. One day I might contact possible reviewers. The next I might work on my email list. The following day I might update my website. And every day I carve out a little bit of time for the big social media platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. (although I admit Facebook is where I spend most of my time).

When I break it down that way, it doesn’t seem as overwhelming. Also, since the marketing is the hardest (emotionally) task for me, knowing I have only one or two tasks to complete in a day makes it easier. Otherwise my well-honed procrastination skills would kick in and I’d push it off forever.

Breaking down large tasks creates a longer To-Do list, but it also gives me a sense of accomplishment because I can check tasks off the list quickly. That sense of immediate gratification is nice—especially with the marketing, where sometimes you don’t see the impact of your efforts for weeks. Plus, since I often have to grab small amounts of time to work, having smaller tasks allows me to get more done in the scattered work environment I have at the moment.

To Do List for marketing Kerry Gans' book The Witch of Zal

So that’s how I avoid having a mental breakdown over the huge tasks—I break them down and tackle the pieces one at a time.

Do you break down larger tasks into smaller ones?

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