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.


Write on Through

Whenever I get a huge idea for a new story, I generally stop what I’m doing and open a new document, give it a temporary name, and write down the first couple of sentences and notes. I have lots of these lurking in my WIP folder, but I never allow myself more than ten minutes to create them. Then I leave them alone, to wait until I’ve published what I’m currently writing. I do write more than one book at a time, but I haven’t ever abandoned any of them in favour of starting something brand new, and working on that instead. Many times I get to a place in a book I’m working on when the next thing to happen refuses to reveal itself to me, or I think that the whole story is a lot of rubbish anyway, and getting stuck into something shiny and new would be a much better idea. No matter how much I really, really want to start in on my new idea, I won’t allow myself to do that. Because if I do it once, I’ll do it again, and then maybe another time, and if I’m not careful I could end up with piles of unfinished books and nothing ever ready to be published.

I’ve never heard any famous author say that writing is easy. It isn’t. It’s really hard work. I think that writing is like any other job though, in the way that the more you do it the easier it gets. When you begin an exercise regime you might only manage a ten minute workout, and you have to push yourself through the pain to get fitter. You have the choice of deciding that it’s way too difficult and try something else instead, or to carry on pushing until you reach your goal. If you give up, you’ll be disappointed in yourself, and will never know what you could have achieved. If you choose to keep going, those endorphins are going to give you a happy face every time you complete your workout, especially if it was hard, and eventually you’re going to reap the benefits of all your work with your taut new body, and years added on to your life.

I think that writing’s just the same. When that next sentence just won’t come, you can just drop it and try something new, or you could write on. It’s at these points that I allow myself to write anything, no matter how stupid it sounds, because eventually the tangled threads will unravel, and I’ll see where I need to go. My goal is always the final sentence of the story I’m working on, and then I get to reap the benefits of getting it published. And those writerly endorphins give me a happy face every time I add to my story. There’s always a sense of accomplishment whether it’s one hundred or two thousand words. Not writing anything at all on any day generally brings on anxiety, because I know that the longer I leave it, the harder it will be to get back into. Just like exercise, you have to keep your scribbler muscles in shape. So it doesn’t matter how many new stories you start writing. If you don’t push through on the books you’re writing now, you stand the chance of wasting a whole lot of time, with only a pile of partly written stories to show for it.

Lewis Carroll
Image Credit: Public Domain Review

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