Time is On Your Side
Time Management for Writers
As writers, time plays various important roles.
There's the aspect of time of which we can't control. When we query agents or we wait for our agents to submit to editors, time is completely out of our hands. Whether we get a yes depends on what's going on in the market, what novels the said agent or editor already has, and so on. We tend to lump all these elements together and call this "timing." It either is or isn't good timing for the agent/editor. This notion of "timing" is both frustrating and terrifying. In short, it sucks.
Despite the anxiety attacks from our lack of control in timing, we also have several ways we can control time. The time we put into researching/educating ourselves on the publishing industry, time spent on social networking, or the time we dedicate to sitting our ass in a chair and typing words? Those things are up to us. We're the boss. But how do we efficiently take control of our writing life? Time management. That's exactly why so many people can complete NaNoWriMo. It's time management.
I'm no pro at time management skills in writing, but I've figured out a few things over the last few years. Some of this list, I'm just recently integrating.
Commit to a specific time to write. Most of us work full-time, part-time, are parents, are students, have other obligations, so even if we can commit to a general time frame or day(s) of the the week to write, that helps us schedule our time. If we commit to our writing, like it's an appointment on our calendar, often times we treat it as such. We're less likely to skip it. I often write after my boys are in bed, but Tuesday nights are when we have no extra curricular activities, so I have a loose date with Starbucks on Tuesdays as soon as my hubs gets home from work. I also cross check my schedule with my hubs on the weekends. If there's a chunk of time I can dedicate to writing that works for my family, I schedule it on the calendar. (This is where a CP or accountability partner comes in handy. Just checking in with them to see how your WIP or revisions are progressing gives you extra motivation to keep those writing appointments.)
Schedule specific times for social networking. I check my twitter feed on my phone in the mornings when I'm getting the kids ready for school and often when I'm making dinner. I multitask. I very seldom sit down at the computer specifically to check Twitter. We take turns on this blog on which days we post and man the YAStands Twitter account. I'm attempting to post on my personal blog once a week - often times writing the post on Tuesday or Thursday when my schedule has more flexibility. Facebook Author Pages (I don't have one) can be the same way - set certain days or times to check it. I tend to get sucked into to Twitter so I've had to put time constraints in place. Tuesdays I can be more lenient with that time. Find what works for your schedule. I feel I should be spending more time on writing than on social networking, so I'm adjusting my schedule to reflect that.
It's a bit trickier to schedule time to educate ourselves as writers/publishing professionals or do research for querying agents. What's worked for me is checking my blog list a couple days a week in the morning, again, when I have more flexibility. I often research agents during that time when my ms is off to my CP/beta readers, as I think many others do. I also keep a notebook specifically with agent/editor/publishing type information. A great way to educate and conduct research simultaneously - making it time efficient - is to attend a writing conference. We also need to make time to read. How can we be great writers if we don't devote time to reading?
One thing Twitter introduced to me was writing sprints - people write for a certain length of time along with other writers. Some try to get 1K words in 1 hour, some see who writes the most words. One thing's for sure - it gets them writing. And they have to keep writing for that designated amount of time. I've yet to do this, but will give it shot very soon. Again, it's nothing insane. It's just a way to put some time into writing.
In summary: MAKE THE TIME TO WRITE. Be intentional. If you love writing/YA lit as much as I do, make it a priority to spend time on what you're passionate about. Take control of your time.
What time management skills do you recommend for writers? Have you heard of something that sounds cool to help devote more time to writing?