Welcome again to our series of blog posts where eight of us – Devika Fernando, Preethi Venugopala, Adite Banerjie, Ruchi Singh, Reet Singh, Saiswaroopa Iyer and I – will post on a myriad of writing-related topics with the topic corresponding to the Alphabet of the Week. Today, I’ll be talking about Time Management.
Twenty four hours – that is what we all get every day. Some of us write full time and others do their best to fit it in on the side. No one’s daily schedule looks the same. While my day begins with demanding cats, another writer may be waking up to a crying toddler. I work from home, so thank goodness for zero commute time — except for the days I work in the coffee shop nearby. I have other writer friends who work from home too, managing the household chores, being caregiver to their elderly parents, and getting books and articles written too. The writers I know who work at full time jobs, usually squeeze in a session most nights or on a quiet Sunday. In fact, one writer I know, locks herself into her room and puts up the Do Not Disturb sign every Saturday morning. Once a week may seem infrequent, but it is consistency that matters. Time can be managed well if you stick to certain habits.
I don’t think that adding word count to your manuscript every single day is a must because you really could get bored or need a break. That’s nothing to beat yourself up about. But yes, I think it is important to make a habit of doing something related to your writing every day. That could include social media engagement and posts, making a basic outline of your next article or blog post, or even writing flash fiction to warm up for the next big writing session. The thing is, it is easy to give up. Staying in touch with writing is the key to progress.
So how much time do you have every day to devote to your writing career? An hour? Three hours? Or do you just have weekend afternoons? Get that down first. Second, make a list of your goals. Do you want a finished manuscript by the end of July? When do you want to submit/self publish your next article or story? Ask yourself for a realistic time frame and put in a deadline. And then comes the next step — making sure that you don’t waste a single precious minute so that you reach those goals. Here are some pointers based on my own experiences as a full time writer..
- Be firm: Don’t let your friends or family members take you away from the scheduled writing time. Don’t let them treat it like an unimportant activity that can wait or be ignored. Make it clear that your writing time is sacred.
- Be disconnected: Whatever social media work you need to do can be done before or after your scheduled writing slot. Even if it is research for your WIP. Any form of social media is a serious distraction. So phone off too!
- Be smart: When you make a to-do list, the difficult tasks seem to get crossed off much later. Tackle those first. Get them out of the way.
- Be organised: Before you sit down for the writing stuff, check on your other non-writing responsibilities so nothing can interrupt you. Lists are awesome. I make lists for my work tasks, groceries, pet care and so on. You’ll even feel accomplished as you delete/tick off each job. It’s also an opportunity to use colourful post it notes.
- Be kind: Anyone can be sick. An emergency can strike. Allow yourself rest when that happens. You need to be in a good head space to get writing done. Self care is important.
- Be adventurous: If your fingers aren’t moving and your brain appears to be frozen, why not try new things during your writing time? Maybe a sprint with other writers you know? You’ll be surprised at how many words come out when writers write in short bursts of time. Adrenalin rush I guess? How about writing in a new place for a change — like a coffee shop or in the library? Time management doesn’t restrict your movement while you’re writing.
Hope this helps. Good luck!