Time Management for Writers
by Kelly L. Stone
One of the primary questions I am asked by aspiring authors is “where do you find time to write?” Most people already know that the answer is you don’t have time, you make time. But making time to write in what feels like an already crammed schedule isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Unless you try counting.
Let me explain.
It is a scientific fact that whenever you start counting the number of times you do a certain behavior, that behavior will either increase or decrease in frequency depending on what you want it to do. So one way to track how often you are doing a behavior is to count it.
Let’s say you have a suspicion that time spent on social networking sites is eating into time that you could be writing instead. How can you tell for sure? Get out a pen and paper and start counting how many hours you spend each day on social sites. One person in my writing classes did this and discovered she was spending 3 hours a day on social networking sites, and this was after working a day job! And she wondered why she never had time to write!
This can be done for anything activity that you want to eliminate, compress, or delegate in order to make time to write: tv watching, checking your email, internet surfing (under the guise of *research*), talking on the phone, going shopping, checking for loose change beneath the sofa cushions, and so forth.
An easy way to find out where you can shoehorn writing into any schedule, no matter how busy, is to use what I call the 24-Hour Time Budget™. It’s simple. Simply track every minute of your day for a few days; I suggest a typical weekday and weekend day for starters. This exercise is similar to writing down every penny you spend in order to get a handle on where your money is going; the goal is for you to see where you are “spending” your time in order to wedge in some writing. After a few days, you’ll have an overview of where the bulk of your time is going. Then you can scrutinize the budget to see where you can eliminate, compress, rearrange, or delegate some activities and fit in writing time, instead.
Don’t be surprised if you find, like my former student, that you spend a lot more time in non-essential activities than you thought you did. (The average person watches more than 4 hours of television a night.) Just lop off some hours on the social networking sites and focus on your WIP instead.
Leave a comment letting me know where you discovered you’re spending all your time, and be entered into a drawing to win a TIME TO WRITE or THINKING WRITE lecture packet. Two winners will be selected from a random drawing.
http://www.authorkellylstone.com/) novel, GRAVE SECRET (Mundania Press, September 2007) was called “powerful” and “well written” by RT Book Reviews. She is the author TIME TO WRITE, THINKING WRITE, and her latest book for writers is LIVING WRITE: The Secret to Bringing Your Craft Into Your Daily Life (Adams Media, September 2010).
Kelly is also a WOW! Women on Writing Classroom instructor. Her interactive workshop EMPOWER YOUR MUSE, EMPOWER YOUR WRITING SELF starts Monday, August 8th. Click here for more information and to sign up!