Time management is the beast of burden that has been haunting me for a while. It may not be an awesome subject that will get us tons of blog comments, but it is something that every writer eventually has to address. Let’s start with the fact that we’re all busy (if you aren’t busy, congratulations this post does not apply to you). We have families, obligations, many of us have day jobs, friends who feel neglected, pets who need attention, household chores, and the list goes on. Basically, all the things everyone has to deal with on a daily basis. As writers though we decided to add a little bit more to the never ending list of things to do. We want to write a book in our “free” time.
In the beginning it’s not so bad. Writing that first draft is fun—it’s a rush, exactly what you have always wanted to do. Soon though the reality hits, what are you going to do with the book once it’s written. You have to edit, find critique partners, beta readers, and reviewers, design a cover, write a blurb, write a query, market, build a platform, social network like there is no tomorrow, critique and beta for others, write blogs, and trust me this list can go on and on forever. Soon you don’t have time for writing and you are spinning in circles so fast trying to manage everything that the inevitable melt down is nipping at your heels. This, my friends, is where time management comes in (actually it should have started ages before you got yourself into this mess, but let’s face it you believed you could handle it. We all did).
So here are my top five tips for helping you manage your time more wisely.
- Don’t be afraid to say no. Honestly, there are only so many things a person can do, so many hours in a day etc. Other writers are in the same boat as you. If you don’t have time to beta/critique/edit for them, they won’t hate you for it (if they do then they probably weren’t the friend/connection you thought they were. Check the drama at the door people, this is a business).
- Schedule your time and stick to it. The second part of that sentence is the important one. We can all write schedules from here to eternity, but if you want to get control over your life you have to stick with it. You have to take your scheduled breaks, you have to walk away from the computer, and you have to log off facebook/twitter/Google +.
- Set realistic goals. Don’t say you have to write 7000 words on Friday when the most you have ever written in a day is 800. You probably aren’t going to make that goal then you will get discouraged and the above schedule you made will be one hook shot from the trashcan.
- Take time off. I know it is hard. You only have so much time that you can write so it seems wrong not to use it all for this one purpose, but that road will lead you to burn out. So schedule an hour for your favorite tv show, take an exercise class, have happy hour with your friends. Adjust your schedule so you can live in real life and not just your imagination.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This is possibly the hardest of all the tips for me. I tend to be controlling and I want to do everything. But sometimes the ol’ ego has to man up, and I have to admit I could use some help. You’ll be glad when you do it.
That’s what has worked for me. What helps you manage your time?