Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day -Finding The Time To Write
Labor Day means different things to different people.  For me it means a day of reflection on what I've accomplished or not accomplished during the year and what steps I need to take to change the situation. Of course this also happens at the end of the year!   It means time management.

 For ten years I worked two to three  24 hour shifts a week. My days off were planned from the minute I left work-grocery shopping, housecleaning, chauffering, sleeping in that order. But with all of that I still found time to write. Now without the demands on my time, I find it more difficult to write, but I still do.

Another example is a fellow GFW Writers member who has a demanding day job followed by his other job of helping to care for three babies.  He has carved out a block of time each week to write.

Then there's another stay-at-home mom-writer who has managed to write two novels this year and is working on her third WIP despite caring for an active toddler.

How do others do this?

If you surf the internet you will find many articles and questionnaires on time management for writers. Some ideas I've used over the years are:

  1. Make a  a list for the week, then each evening for the following day, jot down things you need to do. Make sure writing is on your list.  At the end of the week you will feel  a sense of accomplishment at the number of items marked off . I've been doing this since I was a college student. Not a new idea by any means. 
  2. Follow Weight Watchers idea of tracking food, just apply it to tracking time. Each day write down how much time you spend doing things like surfing the internet, watching TV, getting on Facebook, playing games and using twitter. You'd be surprised how much time this is that could be spent doing other things. Weight Watchers asks you to track every food you put in your mouth and each has a point value. You see the full impact a food has on you. If the number feels high to you, you decide if it's worth  eating. The same can be applied to your daily activities. If the amount of time you're spending watching TV is high what is the impact on your writing or lack of writing time?
  3. Establish a routine: One friend does not open e-mail until noon. She has an established routine of writing from 8AM to 12. Between 12 and 1pm she eats and answers emails. By 1pm she's back to work until 5pm.  She does not write after 5pm.  Another friend writes while she is waiting for meetings, doctor's appointments,  and waiting to pick up kids. She says you'd be suprised at the amount of time you spend waiting.
  4. Use a kitchen timer and set it for a specified amount of time 15 or 30 minutes. Amazing what you can get done in 15 minutes.
  5. Get up 1 hour earlier when everyone else in the house is asleep. Grab that coffee and go to work.

These are just some of the strategies that have helped me. I'm sure there are more, but I don't want to overload you. Now, I’d love to hear some of your ideas. Please, share…

Ruby Johnson is a member of Greater Fort Worth Writers and serves as Treasurer of the group.



Thorne said...

Very good tips. My problem is motivation. Sometimes, Downton Abbey is more appealing than stretching my brain and trying to write that next chapter.

Amber Autry said...

I soooo already knew these, I just don't do them. Instead I keep procrastinating. I have a scheduler to do some time management, not only for my writing, but for my business too, and I still haven't used it. I bought it three months ago. So, what I need to do is get my priorities straight and actually take advantage of my free time.

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