Time Management for Writers

Writers must always have time to write, and we need to be careful of getting too involved in selling our wares rather than creating our wares. Marketing is vital, but….. We all know by now the importance of social media as far as marketing our books is concerned. It’s important to have a platform, with a few favourite sites where we interact with others. If you still have small followings, you might be complaining about too few likes, comments, or retweets, but I also see many overly stressed writers out there whose followings have grown, trying to move at light speed just to keep up with everything. I promise you though, you will reach a point where you can’t keep up without pruning a little.

How many blog posts do you read every day? Times that you take to read an article vary. I’ve timed a couple, and for me they take between a minute to up to ten or more minutes to read. Let’s even things out and say an average of three minutes per post you read. Ten posts is thirty minutes, twenty posts is an hour. If you’re reading a hundred posts a day, that amounts to four and a half hours – two hundred means that around NINE HOURS of your day has been spent reading blog posts. I won’t break down time spent on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and so on. I’m sure you get the picture because it’s more of the same sort of thing. Responding to interactions on all of your sites takes the same average time per interaction, apart from Twitter which though quite zoomy, makes up for time spent in quantity of posts.

I personally adore blogging and the interaction there. I’ve made some firm friends thanks to good old Worpress, and I’m sure that even if I never write another book (ha haaa), I doubt that I could ever give up my blogging addiction. I learn things, laugh and cry about things there – it’s a fabulous universe. I think that we need to be a little careful of getting ourselves all tied up in knots when we break the “rules” that we see. It generally takes me at least a couple of days to catch up with comments or mentions on all my sites, but it’s something I always make sure I get to as quickly as I can. This unfortunately doesn’t mean that I can quickly catch up. Sometimes I’ve missed a comment, only to find it months later, to my cringing shame. I would never purposely ignore any comment, but as my online journey grows, it happens. And I never mind when a blogger takes a good long while to answer anything I’ve said on their blogs. I understand. Most bloggers do, so there’s no need for panic. We’re all living lives, some busier than others. Some writers are not only trying to write, edit, and do all the other things that need to be done in this new scribbling world, but are also dealing with problems, ill health, financial difficulties, or worse.

It’s important not to allow ourselves to get overwhelmed. I say this from experience, because it’s my character never to ignore anyone, and when I find that I accidentally have, it really upsets me. I often really do spend more than nine hours in front of my computer just catching up. The truth of the matter though, is that no matter how much we want to do every little thing that we think we should, it will get to a point where there just aren’t enough hours in our days.

It’s important for writers to manage their working hours. Right now I have a fairly loaded catch up pile to get stuck into (alright – I always have a loaded catch up pile), but I’ll never break my minimum one hour of writing per day rule. We should be making schedules for ourselves at some point. Daily time for writing, marketing, and the just for fun stuff should be determined, and unless there’s no choice, stuck to. There’s not much point if you’re spending all your time managing your platform if you don’t have the time or energy left to write books.

So I suggest to all you busy, busy scribblers out there, grab a notebook and pencil, and create yourself a timetable, with writing as your top priority every day, and then try and stick with it for at least a week. Don’t spend any more hours other than those you’ve allocated for social media. Do allocate yourself an hour at least a day free time – guilt free too – just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean that you’re invincible or a time growing master. Take a stroll – sit under a tree. Go a little easier on yourself. I promise you that nobody is sitting seething at the time it takes you to get to something – well, maybe there are a couple seething – but they really shouldn’t be. And if they are, well, that’s really not the end of the world. Doing the best that you can is all you can do – and it really is important to do your best, just don’t knobble yourself in the process.

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26 thoughts on “Time Management for Writers”

  1. You’re very right Jo. Being on the receiving end of it I understand well that it’s impossible to keep up with everything.I also try to reply to comments promptly but can’t always read or at least comment in detail in all the blogs I’d like. I don’t expect other people to do it either but I’m grateful when they can find the time to do it. No point in exhausting ourselves and then getting to hate something that started as good fun. 🙂

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    1. I also love chatting with everyone. I’m pretty stubborn with the catch ups too – people must think I’m nuts popping up after a while when they’ve already forgotten about what they posted. It’s interesting what you say about hating something that started out in good fun. I’ve been looking around for South African bloggers – it occurred to me that I don’t follow enough South Africans and I live here after all. I kept on seeing two or three frantic and unhappy posts about trying to keep up from a year ago, and then silence. People burn out trying to do too much and then give up because then they get to hate it. So true.

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  2. This is excellent advice. I agree with everything you have said. I have days when I don’t look at social media until I have spent a certain amount of time writing. I am always on catch-up, and like you, I don’t like to ignore any comments on my blog, and I like to comment on the blogs of anyone who has commented on mine. I try to give myself a limit of time for social media, but I always go over – there’s so much interesting stuff to read and have conversations about. To help me manage I have begun keeping a record of the blogs I comment on each week (Sun – Sat) and those that comment on mine. It helps me see those who are happy to engage in conversation and those who just want to put their information out without any real interaction. I am more interested when the conversations occur on both blogs.
    Thanks for sharing your experience. 🙂

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    1. Thanks Norah! I really like your system – I think I’ll just pinch your idea too. Blogging is all about interaction, and I truly can’t imagine what people get out of it when they never ever do. I don’t want to miss posts from bloggers I want to see and chat to because of white noise. Thanks to you! 🙂

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      1. I’m pleased you think my system will be helpful to you. I am finding it interesting to see who responds/visits/comments etc and how regularly. I hope it works for you. I’m considering writing a post about it when I have collected a bit more data. Eliminating that white noise is definitely important when there is so much to do anyway. 🙂

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    1. Thank you m’Luvvly Sir Seumas! I’ve only just figured out that I can’t time travel, so I’m having a big tidy up. I don’t want to be missing anything you have to say, so I’m pruning the tsunami. 😀

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  3. This is great advice that I need to start following. I feel like I’m becoming more organized and consistent with my blogging schedule, but there have been times in which I’ve been disorganized. Like you said, we are all busy and have to juggle many other commitments. I have to come up with a more specific schedule for writing, reading blogs, commenting, and social media interaction. Once I do that, things will run more smoothly.

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  4. Thanks so much for this my lovely Jo, I have been really struggling trying to ‘catch up’ constantly and think of all the hours I’m spending blogging when I should be writing. But since I got my laptop issues sorted, I resolved to do my writing first, each day, and then blog. This means I am behind constantly but as you say, what’s the point of having an author platform if I haven’t got anything written? But again, like you, I can’t give blogging up! I found a comment someone made on a post in early January that I completely missed and I felt awful about it. You write about this dilemma in such a sound and sensible way and confirm just what I’ve been telling myself for a while now…make a schedule and stick to it! Hugs to you…xxxxxxxxxxxx 🙂

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  5. It’s good to know that I’m in great company! I’ve recently decided not to blog before I’ve done my writing in the morning. It’s tempting though because I enjoy blogging and responding to comments on all the wonderful blogs. It’s like being in an international classroom with every subject I choose from writing advice to photography to cooking to dogs and to much more. It really is another Universe. Yet, like other writers have mentioned here, I have to remember why I started this platform in the first place.
    Wonderful post, Jo. 🙂

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  6. I suffer terribly with guilt if I miss someones blog post. But the truth is, as you follow more blogs, and they follow you, you have three times the work cut out for you; creating and blogging regular quality content; reading and commenting and posting theirs to your social media; and replying to their comments on your blog posts and social media posts. It takes so much time, and is a real dilemma. I have now a weekly planner in place, which really helps with regard to managing my own blog, but I can see now that I am going to have to allocate and prioritise daily slots for writing, blogging, reading blogs, social media etc. Trouble is, I’m not a creature of habbit; I don’t like routine, so I know I’m going to find it extremely hard. And to think when I set out on this journey, I was worried about writing a book! If only that was all I had to worry about lol!

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  7. Great post thanks for sharing. I struggle with trying to schedule time for writing, it tends to get squeezed in after work, or in the early hours of the morning.
    I tend to set myself a low weekly word count target, this is easy to hit and doesn’t feel so bad between shift work. I dream of having a regular schedule where I can consistently have a normal working day.

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  8. Great post, Jo, and certainly gives very good advice on how to manage your writing day.

    I was having the very same problems some months back and that’s why I put my blog on a diet. It worked very well for me and I wrote a post about it and I’ve had many people comment that they to have had to cut back on the number of blogs they follow, etc. Yes, we all wish there were more hours in the day, but blogging, for most of us, is for fun and it should never be allowed to develop into a Monster which tries to take over your life.

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