Time Management and Organization for Writers: Are You Spinning Your Wheels?
by Cassandra Carr
I’ve got around forty titles out right now, from short stories to full-length novel series. I’ve been published for around three and a half years. Why am I telling you this? Not to brag, but to illustrate that if you decide you want to be a writer, be a writer. Work hard at it. Take it seriously. Here are some tips for how to do that.
Take a little time to reflect on what your problem is, or if you have more than one, which is the most troubling to your success as a writer. Some examples:
- Trouble staying on task
- Too many “non-writing” (ie social media, admin tasks) getting in the way
- Limited time
- Confidence in your abilities
How do you figure this out?
- Track your time for a week- every minute of it (besides things like bathroom and lunch breaks). You may be amazed where you’re spending a lot of your time. You can also use this matrix of time to learn things like, when is the best time for me to write new material, do the business tasks, sit and brainstorm?
- You can even take a test to see if you’re a time waster: http://www.literacynet.org/icans/chapter03/timemgmt.html
- Another version of this is a writing log. How much did you write? How many pages did you revise? This can be a way to hold yourself accountable and also to reward yourself because you see plainly what you’ve accomplished. If it makes it easier, here’s a template you can download: http://www.businessballs.com/timemanagementtimelog.pdf
- Take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. There’s a simplified (and free) version here: http://www.personalitypathways.com/type_inventory.html Once you understand which type you fall into – these would be your strengths or more dominant tendencies, you can begin to assess and catalog your weaknesses. Knowing your weaknesses, your particular trip-ups, is what will keep you moving.
- Is it more important to write new words? To get your website set up? To host a chat on Facebook?
- You’ll need both short and long-term priorities.
- Know what you HAVE to get done to hit deadlines or meet promises
- Understand what can or should wait, even if you’d rather be doing those things
Now set limits to avoid burnout.
- Some people can write five thousand words a day, some only a thousand.
- Figure out where your comfort zone is regarding number of words, hours, etc that you’ll complete in a day.
Another problem is time sucks.
Social media, especially, can be a huge drain on time. If you find yourself spending hours just puttering on the computer but not really getting things done, you might want to reevaluate how active you are on social media. Some people won’t go on social media at all until their words/pages are done; others find it works better for them to check in for a few minutes several times a day to give their brains a rest.
So now you’ve got some ideas for how to move forward on all those writing projects stuck in your head. Is there something you personally find effective? Tell us about it in the comments!