Time to Write: 5 Tricks of Effective Time Management - article

Whether you work full-time or have ten kids, your life is probably pretty busy. It can be hard to fit writing into that jam-packed life if writing hasn't already been a natural part of you for years and years. Here you'll find a few tips for those who don't automatically pick up pen and paper every break.

1) During an ordinary day, note how you spend your time.

A lot of times you can find time to write without cutting anything important. Every time you find yourself sitting in front of the TV, playing around on Facebook, or doing anything that you don't have to do, stop. Go sit down and start writing, even if for only fifteen minutes.

2) Change how you spend your time by delegating tasks.

Every time you find your hands on anything like cleaning, laundry, packing lunch, or any other activity your children can do themselves, make them do it. If you have no children, ask your significant other or housemates to divide the work with you. If you have neither children nor housemates, procrastinate on house-keeping little. Really, who are you trying to impress? Bundle activities together. Do all your errands one day instead of spreading it out during the week. This gives you more time the rest of the week to write.

3) Set your time goals realistically.

Don't expect to dedicate an entire day each week when you've never written more than a few sentences a month. If you aim too high and fail, you'll find it more difficult to establish healthy writing habits.

4) Be consistent: write down when you're going to write.

This sounds a little funny, but do it. Write it on your calendar, and develop a routine so that you and your housemates become accustomed to your "writing time." E-mail a notice to yourself, your wife, your husband, and your children. Yes, really, take it that far--e-mail and ask them to please remind you because you have a book or article that must make it to paper.

5) Find the best time for writing so that you feel productive during your writing time.

Make trade-offs so you write during times that you naturally feel creative and have high mental energy. Doing dishes and laundry don't require high mental and creative energy. Writing does. So schedule accordingly.

In the end, writing is a decision for which no amount of planning can compensate. Some people naturally move their schedules around to allow writing, but maybe you're not like that; maybe you need to work at the wanting. Think about what writing does for you, and what your finished project will do for the world. Dream a little, and you'll find that desire controlling your schedule.

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  • Thank you for taking time to give this advice. I will check it. thanks again
  • Former Member
    Former Member
    Hi Mona - what a lovely project you are working on. It sounds like you have made a great start on it and I hope you keep going. You might try searching on 'time to write' or 'time management' here on the ALC for great advice on finding the time to write. Also, here are some tips I've picked up from other authors over the years that may help. Set a date for when you will hold your book in your hands. If you are self publishing you can back that date out by about 3-4 months and have a 'manuscript complete' date. Use this is your target. A due date is a key ingredient in meeting any big goal. If you don't think you can do that, try setting a schedule without focusing on the end date and instead, focus on consistency. Many authors say they write every day, even if it's only 30 minutes. Some get up at 5:00 am or stay up at 11:00 pm so they can write while the house is quiet. I've heard many authors say they identify things to give up in order to make time to write. The most common item is giving up TV. Others use down time to write, like when commuting in on the train in the morning, sitting in doctor office waiting rooms, or on their lunch break from work. To make these small bursts of time work you'll want to prepare well. For instance, you could use weekend time to plan your week day writing. Map out what scenes you'll work on, document your character profiles, etc.. This lets you focus those short writing time slots on actual writing while using the larger time chunks to support your writing time. Another tip I've read is to not research. Here on the ALC there is an interview with John Locke (you can search on him to find it) and he says that as he writes he highlights things that need researching so he can do it later instead of interrupting his writing flow to research. For example, he might be typing "and she ran across the river front [find name of river] into the abandoned building". In this way, he doesn't get distracted by looking for the name of the river. I hope those tips help! Good luck with your book. I'm sure it will become a family treasure!
  • I am in process of writing up a family history book. It really takes time. I started January of last year. I thought I could do it in 1 year. I am only in the 6th chapter, with a total 11 chapters. I have run into a problem of getting myself to set down and work on it. I work a full time job and their have been problems there as well. Does this mean I may never get it done. How can I get back on track.
  • Yep that is me. All over your paper-me. Thanks. I think I am the one that needs to discipline myself to write every day and lump other projects and errands together. Love the part about finding the optimum time of day when energy is high. Will use this advice. Thanks!