Posted On June 27, 2014 by Print This Post

Time Management for Writers with Jeannie Moon

The fabulous Jeannie Moon is here today to address something we all struggle with – time management. She can’t give you more hours in the day but she can give excellent tips for juggling everything in your life.

Time Management for Writers
Or
Making Your Deadlines and Still Getting Your Beauty Sleep

Time management is one of those things that we all acknowledge we need, but rarely ever master. As authors we spend our Moon headshotdays at regular jobs, tending to our homes and families, doing chores, running errands, we do have to fit some sleep in there, and often, when time is at a premium the first thing cut from our daily schedule is our writing.
Whether you are a multi-published author or a newbie trying to finish your first book, making and sticking to a writing schedule should be something you get in the habit of doing. It’s important before you are published and even more important after when you are faced with deadlines.

ROUTINES

Routines are your friend. Setting a weekly routine that you know certain things are happening on certain days makes everything run smoothly. When my kids were young, we had days for certain meals. There was baking day, dance day, grocery day. Everything had a time and with both parents working, and three young kids with activities and homework, it was necessary. Make sure you have a writing routine. Are your great in the morning, set aside and hour before everyone in the house is awake. Are you a night owl? Take advantage of the quiet night. Figure out what works and stick with it.

WORD COUNTS AND WRITING TIME

Having a daily word goal is a great idea. It keeps you accountable and keeps your project moving forward. Romance icon, Bertrice Small, has always been a disciplined author. She once told me the secret for keeping her writing on track: “Three pages a day, six days a week, for fifty weeks a year and you will write 900 pages a year. “ For most of us, that’s three books. I have a friend who changed her writing habits by participating in NaNoWriMo. Now, she doesn’t consider her writing session complete unless she’s thrown down 2000 words. 1K1H writing sprints are also a great way to keep you moving. There are always people on Twitter looking for sprint partners. Or find a friend on Facebook who’s writing and keep each other honest. Do two sprints a day and you have those 2000 words. Figure out how you write and what works and you’ll manage your time better.

WHEN YOU’RE NOT DOING IT ALL

One thing I did when I was drowning in work was to keep a time journal. When we want to eat better we keep track of food. If we want to manage our money, we write down what we spend. The same goes for time. Keeping a time journal helps you see where you’re wasting minutes. If you’re crunched for time and losing sleep, writing it all down and being accountable will help you. Look at your “time sucks.” Are you a social media addict? Do you watch too much TV? Where can you trim wasted time so you are more productive?

Sometimes you have to say no. That’s right. You may not have time to bake an extra batch of cookies, or chaperone an event at school, or help with a chapter event…if you’re really swamped someone else may have to step up. I suffer from something I call helium hand. Volunteers will be solicited, and my hand rises like a balloon. It’s gotten better over the years and now I hold my hand down so I don’t make myself, and everyone around me, nuts.

photoHOW DO YOU PROCRASTINATE? AND WHY?

You don’t procrastinate? You dirty liar…yes you do. The best way to stop however, especially with your writing, is to figure out what you hate doing and break that part of the process into smaller tasks. Do you hate drafting? Don’t shoot for a thousand words a day then, make it five hundred. Revising? Dedicate an hour a day when you’re revising. Use an egg timer. Sometimes deadlines push us harder, but if we know what our weak spots are, you can allot more time, break things into smaller, more manageable tasks, and keep procrastination to a minimum.

Is social media a distraction? You may have to invest in internet management software like Freedom or Anti-Social. These programs can be set to limit access to the web in general or just social media sites. If you can’t police yourself, these programs are a good investment.

KILL THE MUSE

What? That’s right. I can’t tell you how many times I hear pre-published authors talk about how their muse has left them and they just can’t write. Guess what? When you publish with a publisher or on your own, you still need to write and produce and the muse needs to be banished. Inspiration is a luxury most professional writers don’t have. Unless you are George R.R. Martin, Diana Gabaldon or Stephen King, you have deadlines, you have to write fast, and you don’t have time for a pesky muse. Jack London said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
Go invest in a club and beat the damn muse if you have to.

IT’S UP TO YOU

Ultimately, managing your time is like anything that requires discipline, it’s up to you to make the effort and get it under control. But if you spend some time establishing routines, keeping to a writing schedule and avoiding distractions, you’re on the right road. Remember there will always be things we can’t control, but if you have a plan you’ll find the writing life can be more manageable, and you will get your sleep.

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What do you do to manage your writing time?

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Bio:

Jean­nie Moon has always been a roman­tic. When she’s not spin­ning tales of her own, Jean­nie works as a school librar­ian, thank­ful she has a job that allows her to immerse her­self in books and call it work. Mar­ried to her high school sweet­heart, Jean­nie has three kids, three lov­able dogs and a mis­chie­vous cat and resides on Long Island, NY. If she’s more than ten miles away from salt water for any longer than a week, she gets twitchy.  The Wedding Secret is the third book in her Forever Love Series from InterMix. Visit Jeannie’s web­site at www.jeanniemoon.com

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Discussion

27 Responses to “Time Management for Writers with Jeannie Moon”

  1. LOVED this article! Here I am, working on my 14th book, and I still struggle with time management. I’ve found that a little program called Freedom for Mac is very helpful; it blocks Internet access for a specified period of time. I also open my document every day. If it’s there, I’ll work on it. But sometimes, it’s like I have to put my manuscript in front of me like a pile of unfolded laundry, and only then will I get to it. Personally, I have weekly page counts, as opposed to daily. If I have a bad day, or a day when my kids need me, I don’t feel like I’ve failed my assignment, you know? Thanks for all this great information!

    Posted by Kristan Higgins | June 27, 2014, 6:22 am
    • I so hear you. The internet isn’t the problem, it’s social media specifically. I have Anti-Social. It cuts me off from Facebook and Twitter. I’ve been known to hand over my cell phone and tablet to my husband to avoid distractions.

      Posted by Jeannie Moon | June 27, 2014, 11:42 am
  2. Jeannie -

    I am SO there on any post about time management. I’m always looking for new ideas since my life seems to get upended on a regular basis :-).

    I’m with Kristan – I now set weekly goals because I tend to write more at the beginning of the week and do more admin as Friday approaches. (As I tell my 14yo, it’s good to get ahead early ;-) ).

    And rather than routines, I talk about establishing a rhythm (yeah, I know it’s semantics) because I would get so frustrated when my day wouldn’t go the way I’d planned that it would blow the rest of my plans too. A rhythm is something, however, that changes with the seasons (dog walking in Georgia happens before 10am in the summer, pretty much not until 11am in the winter), school schedule, and whether or not we’ve moved (which tends to happen with alarming frequency in our family).

    We should chat – I’d love to do a presentation on organization and time management and just haven’t prioritized in it my “rhythm” yet ;-).

    Kelsey

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | June 27, 2014, 6:58 am
    • I think it’s about finding what works, but I know I tend to adjust based on the time of year. When the kids were little(three of them under age five) and I was working full time, it was hectic, hence the routines. I don’t have to be as rigid now, but being in a bit of a rut frees my mind to think about my book.

      Posted by Jeannie Moon | June 27, 2014, 11:46 am
  3. Awesome tips, Jeannie! I emply all of these in some form or another, but my most important “to-do” is make sure I get thirty minutes of exercise in every day. When I’m strong, flexible, and fit, everything in my life runs more smoothly, including my writing. Having said that, I also spend way too many hours watching (researching) via TV. I would love to translate those hours into writing. I’d have volumes! Thanks for the reminders:-)

    Posted by PJ Sharon | June 27, 2014, 7:03 am
  4. Great post, Jeannie. Thanks for all the suggestions. Sounds like Kristen has it down. Some days, I too do not turn on my MAC. I don’t answer phone calls. And, I only cook on weekends, enough for easy meals during the week. Cleaning is a fantastic, mindless activity, so when I need a break, I dust. I leave the vacuuming for Tom, my willing husband. Like Paula, I never miss my exercise, as in my early morning walk.

    Posted by Gail Ingis | June 27, 2014, 7:43 am
  5. Ah, the muse… I’ll be completely honest. To date, I’ve written about a dozen novels, three of which are published with two more following next year.

    I work full time, plus have a family to manage.

    If I waited for a muse to get her lazy ass out of bed, the only thing I’d ever get written would be grocery lists.

    The muse is a myth, people!

    Writing is hard work and the only way to tackle is to *coughs* WORK.

    Posted by Patty Blount | June 27, 2014, 7:47 am
  6. Great post. I confess to being hooked on TV. It relaxes me like nothing else does, and it’s easy. Lot’s easier that putting my rear in the chair to work out the kinks in my current WIP. Then I’m still getting the hang of SM and spend too much time there, chasing the increasing numbers of followers! Ultimately, you’re right, we’re each in charge to a large part for how we spend our time, just like what goes into our mouths. I need to recommit! Thanks for the inspiration.

    Posted by Marsha R. West | June 27, 2014, 4:38 pm
    • Marsha, I could binge watch any number of shows, but I really don’t watch TV anymore. And unfortunately we can’t eliminate social media from our jobs as writers, so finding a balance isn’t easy. I’m glad you liked the post. Thank you for commenting. :)

      Posted by Jeannie Moon | June 27, 2014, 9:04 pm
  7. Hi Jeannie!

    So…I’m watching baseball as I type this. I watch way too much baseball and then I go into a funk at the end of the season. After reading your post, I’m going to put my collection of egg timers to use. Inspiration is a funny thing. Sometimes, I’m so inspired that I’m jumpy and then there are those moments when inspiration gets in the way and I can’t form my thoughts onto the page.

    Thanks for telling me what I needed to hear and thanks for blogging with us today!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | June 27, 2014, 6:20 pm
    • Jennifer, Is there such a thing as too much baseball? I totally get this, but you don’t have to give it up completely. Make a schedule. If you’re watching a game, great, but to get your writing in what will give? It’s a balancing act, no doubt. And the muse? Write in spite of the muse, not because of her. :)

      Posted by Jeannie Moon | June 27, 2014, 9:06 pm
  8. Great post, Jeannie. Thanks for tips. Especially sprinting when working on edits to stay on track and on task.

    Posted by Kristal Hollis | June 27, 2014, 6:45 pm
    • Those timed sessions and egg timers are my good friends. After you work for an hour give yourself a break. Make a call, watch a show, take a walk…something away from your computer. Then come back and do it again.

      Posted by Jeannie Moon | June 27, 2014, 9:08 pm
  9. Thank you for a fantastic article!

    I really needed to read something this organized on this particular topic. My writing has been suffering lately, and when you know you’re supposed to be writing and you haven’t been doing it, it’s agonizing to live in the world.

    I’m going to start with structuring a routine. I had one when I was in college, or I’d never have gotten everything done for my classes. Somehow I got away from that … probably because I bought in to the whole idea of waiting for the muse to “strike.”

    Time to start striking back (or first!).

    Posted by Eleanore D. Trupkiewicz | June 27, 2014, 8:02 pm
    • I’m telling you, the routines work. I’m the same as you. Certain times of my life I just buckled down and put myself into a lovely rut, and I got so much done. It’s nice to be spontaneous, but it’s not always practical.

      Push through the muse’s nap, and you’ll find your words. :)

      Posted by Jeannie Moon | June 27, 2014, 9:34 pm
  10. Great article, Jeannie.

    I used to watch hours of TV prior to writing seriously. Now I have two shows I watch faithfully and DVR the rest. I don’t watch them until I’ve met my goals for the week.

    I love #1k1hr sessions! I rarely reach that elusive 1K, but generally can add 500-750 new words and complete 2-4 sprints on many days.

    I also track my writing progress and plan my writing schedule, having a dedicated agenda planner I carry at all times. I record ending word counts and how I worked on my writing goals for the day. (This type of record/planner can also be used when tax time comes around as proof that writing is a business to you instead of a hobby.)

    Hey, I thought I was the only writer to open my WIP on the laptop and wait for it to guilt me into writing. Guess not. :)

    Posted by Jolyse Barnett | June 27, 2014, 8:07 pm
    • Jolyse, You are probably the most disciplined writer I know, and I love the agenda. I have a calendar I keep, but I do it digitally through Google calendar. It syncs with all my devices and sends me writing reminders.

      Posted by Jeannie Moon | June 27, 2014, 9:36 pm
  11. The fact that I’m here so late is proof that time management is an issue for me these days! Thanks so much for a great post – of course, I bookmarked it!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | June 27, 2014, 10:46 pm
  12. Evening Jeannie..

    My apologies for getting here so late…lol…I ran out of time. Yikes. Opened your post this morning, and just now getting back to it!

    I use Write or Die…an excellent little program with a built in timer…if you blow it off while you check on your emails, it makes noise, gets violently colored and can (if you set it up to) erase the words you’ve written if you ignore it long enough.

    Writer’s tough love program.

    Thanks for posting with us today!!!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | June 27, 2014, 11:13 pm
    • I’ve heard about Write or Die, but I give you credit for using it. It’s intense, but people tell me it keeps them on track. I don’t know if I’d be brave enough for Kamikaze mode, though.

      I think different techniques work for different people. It’s all about facing what’s not working and finding what does.

      Posted by Jeannie Moon | June 28, 2014, 9:38 am
  13. Great post, Jeannie! Both routines and small goals each day have helped me tremendously in making progress. I love the quote you shared, too. I definitely go after my muse with a club. lol!

    Posted by Heather Webb | June 28, 2014, 6:38 am

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