Time management is a challenging skill to master. This applies to every aspect of life. When it comes to time management for writing, managing your time is critical if you want to stick to a publishing date or have due dates for the project. Without time management, projects can derail and be left in a strange state of limbo. Plus, life’s other responsibilities can get in the way when we want to write. So, how do we manage a time for writing?
Let’s look at three different scenarios and some methods of handling your time within these hypothetical situations. There will be some crossovers because the techniques are mostly universal. Then, you will be able to juggle your time better and start writing!
Scenario One: The Perfect World
Ah yes, the perfect world. Probably an unrealistic scenario for most people. It is applicable, though, because some people do have rigid routines. If you happen to have a steady day job and consistency outside of your work life, you’ll find it easier to make time for writing.
Block Out Time to Write
This is a no-brainer and the main focus of all time management. It would be best if you blocked out time to write. We won’t get into inspiration or writer’s block, or distractions interrupting your time. Those are more in-depth topics. With time management for writing, you need to block out a section of the day or night. If life doesn’t let you, we will look into this method further down too.
They work wonders. Most of us have smartphones or computers which provide digital calendars. You can also get a physical calendar to pin on the wall or a notebook with one in it. Calendars have been around for centuries and are still the most effective ways to manage yourself. Blocking out time for writing can be taken care of if you jot it into a calendar. Even if you are in a perfect world and have predictable day-to-day activity, blocking out time and jotting and calendar will keep you focused and on track.
Scenario Two: A Normal World
Most people have varying schedules from day to day, week to week, if not month-to-month. Busy seasons come in as the fall ramps up, and summertime is often for vacations. There are many other examples, as well. So how do you keep a writing schedule for time management?
The term is used a lot in schools and the work world. Flextime is free periods of your day that you use for anything. If you can’t consistently block out time to write every day, note the periods you do have. If there is a window between getting home from work and cooking, you could write. Even if this is only half an hour or 15 minutes, you will get a lot more done than if you didn’t. Plus, writing even a little bit can spark the brain to start thinking about what’s coming next in your story, making the next session easier.
Everyone has busy periods and downtimes in life. Take advantage of the lower! If you can foresee the slow time coming, plan, and write as many hours a day, multiple times a week, as you can. If you didn’t see the free time coming, now you have nothing but time to focus on writing or planning. Remember, every little bit of writing gets you further than not doing anything.
Scenario Three: Pure Chaos
What if your life is entirely unpredictable? You might have a family of five kids, or are hopping jobs regularly, or maybe the pure chaos is only short-lived, but it will derail you from everything you have planned with your writing. In this case, there are ways to handle time management for writing still.
A similar concept to the flex time mentioned previously, but more aggressive. If you barely have time to breathe and are on the go every moment of the day, this is the timesaver for you. Most of us have smartphones. Believe it or not, you can type on them– no way! It is a bit of a learning curve to type on such a small screen, but some people are texters and are good at. You can also learn to type this way.
Have 5 minutes between your lunch break? How about first thing in the morning while you are drinking your coffee? Spot writing can get you a lot further since little bits add up over weeks and months.
Working Smarter, Not Faster – Technology
There are all sorts of books about writing more efficiently and planning. I’ve also discussed them previously on the blog with How to Finish NaNoWriMo in Two Weeks, Working Smarter, and A Year with Dictation for Writing. In this post, we will review technology.
Back to smartphones, most of them have some form of dictation software available. People speak faster than they can type, which can be advantageous. Learning to speak your words instead of typing can be a massive timesaver. If you are doing spot writing, five minutes of talking wall get you further in your manuscript than typing. Not always in revisions, but as a generalization, it will.
More expensive software like Dragon offers a conversion as well. Using a voice recorder on your phone, you can take that file and load it into Dragon, which will transcribe it to text. If you are on the go, speaking your story can be significant.
Break All Foundations
Here is an unconventional tip – go wild with your writing. Be fearless, and don’t listen to the inner chatter – say yes to every idea. This applies to time management for writing as well. Write anywhere and everywhere. If you bring your computer out and about, fire it up and do some writing on the bus. Push away all thoughts of “no.” Beat down your critical mind and let yourself explore freely to get those words in. Sometimes under pressure, we can create the most exciting work. Other times, it’s garbage, but that’s okay because you still wrote, which is a lot more than doing nothing.
Summary of Time Management for Writing
All seven of these points are valid and work depending on the situation that you are in. Of course, you can block the time and write freely in a perfect world without any worries or distractions. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way, and we are all juggling extra responsibilities.
People are busier today than ever before, which is the double-edged sword of technology. We are constantly stimulated by ads, media’s ongoing psychological warfare, and trying to have a life with family and friends. Managing time isn’t easy, but it can be learned. I hope these pointers have been helpful for you, and if you have any additional ones feel free that it in the comments.