Today, being a writer means you are an Author, Promoter, Artistic Muse, and Accountant.
Whether you are writing your first book or 18th, self-published or traditional, you have lots of responsibilities and duties besides just putting fingers to the keyboard and writing. This means you need to balance the daily to-do list to keep not only the words flowing, but the books selling, the fans waiting and watching, and make sure all those balls you’re juggling…stay in the air.
No matter what type of writer you are—new, old, Trad, Self-Published—time management, goal setting, and prioritizing need to be skills you use and control. But you must be smart and think about time-management as a WRITER.
You are a writer. If you don’t get the words on paper, you have nothing to sell. So, your top priority MUST be writing. Take a deep breath and think about your life. Be realistic.
Do you have another job? Small children or other responsibilities? Today I’m a full-time writer. But when I started writing, I worked for a Fortune 100 company, commuted an hour a day, worked long hours, and had three children. It is an entirely different skill set to find the time and energy to write under those circumstances.
You learn to take little snippets of time. Like eating a sandwich in the car so you can write or edit for an hour. Figure out what works for you. Decide how much time you can carve out of your day to sustain a daily or weekly wordcount goal.
If you don’t know how to come up with the numbers and set a goal that works for you, see my blog post The Math & Science of Writing. It will help you figure out what your writing goal should be.
Once you have that goal and the realistic amount of time it will take for you to achieve the wordcount, you can prioritize you day. Here are a few things that might help you meet that goal.
Word Count Time Management and Focus Tip:
The next time you write—before you close your manuscript—set yourself up for the next writing session by joting down a few sentences describing the coming scene, or a bit of dialogue you want incorporated, or what the next step is in the plot.
When you’ve just finished an hour or three of writing and the work is clear in your mind, that is the perfect time to set the stage for the next time you can work on your book. If you do this, you won’t be sitting down cold, trying to remember where you were and what comes next. You’ll start the session with a plan. And the next time you open that file the words should start to flow right away.
This simple preparation will often keep you from starting a limited writing session by h reading through the pages you wrote yesterday (or several days ago). You won’t need to remember what you wanted to do next, because you wrote it down. You will be able to spend your writing time, putting words on the paper. The prompts are right there.
There is an added benefit to this type of preparation. Simply print out that last page or two with the prompts for what comes next—and stick it in a notebook you can keep in your car, purse, or backpack. You won’t need your entire manuscript, or even your laptop, as this type of writing and the time you’ll have to do it works better with notebook and pen.
Now, when you get a break at work? (Start writing.) Stuck waiting for the doctor or dentist? (Writing.) Eating lunch alone in your car, or at a restaurant? (Writing.) Kids working on homework. (Writing.) Grandkids napping? (Writing.) Oven timer with thirty minutes before dinner? Well, you get the point.
These short bursts of time won’t typically allow you to focus on the plot or write long passages. But look around. Use what you see to fill in the sights and smells in your book. The sounds. Or work on changing the facial expressions of your characters. Or describe what they are wearing or feeling. The little snippets of time work really well to help you flush out the details. And it is amazing how those details add up. They will help boost your word count, keep the book fresh in your mind, and when you get a chance to sit down and write for an extended session, you will be ready. I find when I use this method, I have fewer issues with Writer’s Block!
For more information on Writer’s Block and finding time to write, see my blog post, So, you want to be a writer? Tip#1
Next week we’ll look at a time management and focus tip that can help writer’s with promotion!
Have a wonderfully productive week and take time to get a little Wilde!