Managing Your Writing Time
At Arc Light Books writers struggling to find time to write get personalized advice and periodic check-in. Below are a few suggestions that might apply to you.
Full-time authors, often set very specific schedules for working. For instance, getting up at a predefined hour, eating one of three breakfasts variations, and sitting down to work for two hours before checking phone and email messages. Defining the rising hour, breakfast choices, and length of time to write, allows the mind to bring the creative space between sleeping and waking into the writing session before beginning the rest of the day. This type of schedule eliminates getting side tracked. A regimented schedule is a primary strategy, and there are other ways authors can keep themselves on track.
The writing sanctuary is a time-honored and helpful tradition. By defining a specific place to write the mind is triggered to concentrate on writing when in that space. The sanctuary is necessarily free of distractions. For some, this might be a busy cafe where there is so much going on that the writer automatically focuses on the work at hand. For others, it has to be quiet and private. Many go to writing retreats. If you house-sit, this can be an inexpensive form of a writing retreat as none of your stuff, friends, or family will be there to distract you. And, unlike an organized retreat, the private residence has no other writers in attendance with whom to compare yourself.
Writing is a solitary practice, in which self-imposed deadlines are a powerful motivator. Writers who have responsibilities that don’t allow setting a precise schedule often grab time for writing whenever they can. The biggest problem with the situation, of finding random times to work on writing, is procrastination. Time can always be easily filled with the demands of job, family, and social media. There are also fears of beginning, continuing, or finishing. Setting goals for each next writing session ahead of time, can focuses your mind on the importance of a specific, achievable objective. It keeps you alert to grab the first available time when you see it, rather than do some other pressing task.
It is advantageous to make your short-term goals simple and actionable. Examples: “Make a timeline for chapter two,” or “Polish the first three paragraphs of chapter four,” or “Transcribe notes from X into the manuscript as a story.”
Success is important and small achievable goals are easier to complete, making you more likely to succeed. And less likely to give up or procrastinate. Break your deadlines and goals into manageable parcels and you will be more likely to follow through. For instance, if you want to write a dozen pages in three hours, instead commit to writing at least three pages in three hours. If you schedule these three-hour blocks four times on your calendar—and hold yourself to them—you will most likely meet your goal of a dozen pages and much more. For some, simply having the pressure of a deadline creates the impetus to write. For others, writing may flow more freely if you are not pressing yourself for time, but have intention and abundance in the back of your mind.
Like the manuscript itself, the writing schedule is a work in progress until the book goes into production. As a successful writer, you will adjust your goals, deadlines, and schedule as your project progresses and your life circumstances fluctuate.
♦ The key to effective time management is finding what works for you, then committing, adjusting, and following through