As writers, we have unique time management challenges. We have to be our own motivational speakers (we’re notorious for talking to ourselves, and I’m sure a lot of it is about doing our writing) and our own coaches. We don’t have any bosses unless we work directly for a publication, and money can be iffy, so it’s not the best motivator for us. There is some other, undefinable something that drives us, for sure. But sometimes that’s not enough to get the story or novel written.
Here are some tips to help you find time to write more.
Make it a habit to write every day, and if possible, at the same time every day. This is the number one tip to help you meet your writing goals.
Realize that you will never be caught up with everything in your life, and just do the best you can. Yes, try to plan. Yes, prioritize your to-do list so the really important things get done every day. But there will always be more email and snail mail. There will always be more housework, more laundry, more errands to do. There will always be doctors to see, other appointments to tend to, and emergencies, big and small (but hope not too often) to take care of. Simply aim to make this day, this hour a good, productive one.
Use a calendar, a to-do list and a notebook to keep everything together. Only one of each is best unless you have a work calendar/to-do list and a household calendar/to-do list. No more than two though, and most time management professionals recommend only one calendar, one to-do list, and one notebook.
To free up more time for writing, pick something on your to-do list and cross it off without doing it. There is probably something there that you really, really don’t need to do and still have a great life. Maybe more than one. How many times have you said you’d do something to please someone else but have been putting off because you really, really don’t want to do it? What will happen if you toss it back at that person, or if you delegate it to someone else?
I don’t know about other writers, but I find that after spending an hour on writing or editing, my mind begins to wander. Studies have shown that most adults can stay on task for between fifty and sixty minutes at a time; then they’re ready for a break. My second biggest tip today is to sit for no more than an hour before getting up, moving around, and doing something different for about ten minutes. A timer works well to help you accomplish this. It’s a great way to get in twenty to thirty minutes of exercising every day. Two or three ten minute breaks will do the job. Use other breaks to do small household tasks, or stand up to make phone calls. Use a timer for your break, too.
I think this is enough to get you started. Remember the number one tip—start writing every day at the same time and go for an hour. For even more time management ideas, check out my blog at www.janchristensen.com/blog. And good luck!
Jan Christensen grew up in New Jersey and now resides in Texas. Her published novels include Sara’s Search, Revelations, Organized to Death, Perfect Victim, and Breakout. She’s had over fifty short stories appear in various places over the last dozen years, two of which were nominated for a Derringer Award. She mainly enjoys writing mysteries, but every once in awhile steps out of that comfort zone and goes for something else, blogging about personal organization and the writing life, for example.
Jan wants to give away one copy of Organized to Death to a lucky U.S. or Canada resident who leaves a comment on this post before midnight Friday, September 6th (Mountain Time). The winner will be announced here on Saturday.
Jan, thanks so much for being here today. I’m giving the daily writing resolution a try this month and next….call it a warm up for this year’s NaNoWriMo.