Time management is crucial for writers with busy lives—work, school, parenting, spouses, pets, friends, family, maintaining a home, among a number of other things take up a lot of time. The lack of time may be the reason a person doesn’t write even though they’d like to do so. Since it’s impossible to get more time in a day, it’s up to you to make the time and use the time you do have as effectively as possible.
Not everyone can sit down at a computer and have the words pour from their souls, so it’s easy to waste time staring at a blank screen. So, my first tip is to never sit down without a plan. Personally, I don’t like to outline each chapter. I start off each story with a short paragraph containing a loose plot and that’s it. I think of everything else as I go. But, every morning when I’m getting ready for the day, I think about what I’m going to write and how the story will progress. When you think ahead about the next scene you’re going to write, it increases your chances of being productive when you do have a moment to sit down and put your fingers to the keys. If you have a smart phone or tablet with microphone capabilities, use the voice memo to record notes because it’s much faster than typing. I sometimes even talk-to-text my scenes and transfer them to the computer later. It puts you ahead of the game.
After you spend your day thinking about what you’re going to write, dedicate a certain amount of time, at the same time, to write every day. It doesn’t have to be a long time, fifteen minutes would suffice, but what it does is guarantee that no matter what, you’ll write at least something that day. Getting in a routine and holding yourself accountable increases your writing success. The last thing you want to find yourself doing is telling yourself that you’ll write tomorrow or over the weekend, because chances are, you’ll say the same thing when the time comes.
Setting daily word goals is a good way to hold yourself accountable. It’s important that your goals are obtainable too. You want to exceed your limit, so don’t force impossible numbers on your writing. My minimum daily writing goal is 500, but I never stop there. Once I reach 500, I add another 500 until my time runs out. Base your goal on your average word count for the amount of time you set—and don’t fret if you don’t make it because at least you tried. It’s better than not trying at all.
Another suggestion to finding the time to write is to disconnect the internet and don’t turn it back on until you reach your daily writing goal. The internet is a time-suck and if you’re anything like me, one click leads to another, and then an hour passes before you realize it and then you have to get off the computer to do something else. Also, get your writing done before you watch TV so you don’t get sucked into binge watching an entire series you’ve recorded or stream.
My last tip for finding the time to write is to stop making excuses. If you find yourself saying you’re too tired to write at the end of the day, wake up thirty minutes earlier and write in the morning instead. If you don’t want to sit at a computer if you were on one all day, take your writing to a notepad and type it over the weekend or use a talk-to-type tool. Once you stop making excuses and get into the habit, writing will be easy. Completing a story is rewarding and worth the time.
How do you manage your time? Share some tips on making the time to write in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.