Time management is always something every writer struggles with, and for all kinds of reasons.
Maybe you think that writing is a hobby or is something just for you, therefore the rest of life, your family, friends and work, should all take priority over it, leaving you little writing time.
Or maybe you too struggle with the common battle of wanting to write but procrastinating instead.
Or maybe you are genuinely one of those busy people with one or two jobs, a big family, a large social circle and loads of interests (I honestly don’t know how you do it, I’m exhausted thinking about it).
Thankfully, time management for authors is actually quite simple, although be warned, it can also be hard work.
Will power will get you through and eventually you’ll form a writing habit that will make it so much easier. So let’s look at how to get started…
Not enough time to write?
The answer to not having enough time to write is an easy one but you might not like it.
Are you ready?
If you don’t have time to write then you need to make time.
I know, I know. I felt that way too at first, but trust me, it’s easier than you think.
Finding the right time to write will depend on you and your situation. It might mean getting up earlier, so you write before anyone else wakes up. Or you might need to start using your lunch break at work to get some words down. Or perhaps, like me, you need to take a chunk of your evening and dedicate that to writing.
It doesn’t have to be long. If you can only spare 15 minutes, that’s enough to get some words down, and some words are better than no words.
Plus, some days will be easier than others. You might make 15 minutes for yourself, but you could end up writing for an hour.
Depending on your schedule, you could also dedicate a day for writing. Perhaps a lazy Sunday could have a couple of hours where you lock yourself away to write, or head on down to the local coffee shop.
Personally, I usually take Wednesday as a writing day. My parents have the puppy and I go to their yummy local coffee shop for a good four hours or so of writing.
Making the most of the time
Okay, so you’ve carved out some time for yourself to write.
How do you make sure you don’t waste that time on Facebook, staring into space or getting involved with the family?
Right, first of all, close yourself off from your family. Go into a room and close the door. Tell them you just need this 15 minutes/half hour/hour/whatever and not to disturb you unless there’s an emergency. Or leave the house altogether and head to the local library/coffee shop/park.
Make sure you have everything you need.
If you write to music, make sure you have your playlist ready.
If you like to procrastinate by visiting the kitchen (that’ll be me) then take a snack into the room with you.
And make sure you have a drink.
Now, we’re ready to write.
So here are some tips to keeping at the writing and getting the most out of that writing time.
This taps into my favourite tips for beating procrastination. But, oh, it hurts at first.
Simply put, sit down and write. When something pops into your head to take you away from your writing say NO! You’ll do it when you’re done writing.
Be strong and leave the procrastination to be the reward.
Set yourself a word goal you’d like to hit within the time you’ve given yourself. So, if you have 15 minutes to write, maybe set yourself the goal of writing 250 words.
You can change the goal each day depending on your mood and writing speed.
If you hit your word goal, try doing a bonus goal, for example, an extra 100 words.
Turn off the internet
Leave research questions for later, write around them and schedule internet research for another day. Going somewhere where there’s no wifi really helps with me (my favourite coffee shop has awful wifi, I get SO much writing done there!).
Use an app
Yes, there are apps for this. Forest is the app that bestselling author Victoria Schwab uses to write. By leaving the app and your phone alone, you can grow trees. Get distracted and move away from the app, and your tree dies.
Some writers swear by the Pomodoro technique and there are so many apps for that one. It’s explained in detail with a list of apps right here.
Keep a record
Make a note each day of how many words you’ve done so you can keep track of your process, find out your writing pattern and definitely reward yourself each week for some good writing done!
Making time to write and using that time effectively is easy when it becomes a habit. But in order for writing to become a habit, you need to push on through and write regularly.
Try to write every day and at the same time each day if you can, you’ll form a new habit much quicker.
They say that you need to do this for at least 30 days to create a new habit, so experiment. Soon, you’ll find it easier and easier to just sit down and write.