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
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 days 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 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.
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.
What do you do to manage your writing time?
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
- Brenda Novak: It’s About Time…Management, That Is!
- Balancing the Business Side of Writing with Kathleen Collins
- Stepping off the Hamster Wheel by Jeannie Moon
- Weekly Lecture Schedule: March 18 – March 22, 2013
- A Delicate Balance: Writing and the Day Job