No time to write your book? No one has time — we all have many things we could (and maybe should) be doing rather than writing. I’ve been falling into the “no time” trap myself recently, so let’s look at great time management tips which have helped me to get back on track.
Time management tips for authors: set goals before you start writing
Have you set goals? This year is half-over. Within a few short months, it will be October, and then the annual holiday-season madness kicks off. I’ve made a writing plan for the rest of this year.
It’s a comfortable plan, which allows for mini-breaks away, and for the unexpected. I find that if I keep my goals small, I’m less likely to suffer from being overwhelmed when unexpected events occur. As they say, everything takes longer than you expect.
Here are the tips. I hope at least one of them helps you. 🙂
1. Keep a running, 5-minute To Do list: write anywhere, anytime
In my everyday life, I’m a marketer. Frequently I’m home late, and there’s very little time for writing. I decided that I could do more writing, even at work, if I set myself some tiny tasks which I could do in five minutes or less.
In five minutes, you can:
- Work on a character description;
- Brainstorm in your writing journal;
- Set a goal for a scene;
- Set a scene;
- Research something — I keep a list of topics I want to research;
- Read a scene, and make notes;
- Write 100 words of the scene you’re working on.
With Scrivener for iOS, I can work on my current book on my phone anywhere I can snatch a few minutes.
2. Talk it, don’t write it: make the most of speech recognition software
Voice recognition software is worth trying, especially if you’re on a deadline. The software is so good today, that even with minimal training, it’s remarkably accurate.
While I use voice recognition software at work, I’ve found it’s challenging to train my brain to speak my words, rather than tap them on a keyboard. It took me around three weeks to get comfortable writing a novel with the software.
Your mileage will vary of course, but I’ve found it particularly useful if my writing is slow for a session. I plan out a scene, then I just speak it. Once I’ve got the words, I can tidy them up.
Give voice recognition software a try.
3. Set a deadline for your Work in Progress: use software to keep yourself on track
I use Scrivener, and I love the Project Targets feature. You set a word count goal for the project (you can set goals for individual documents too), and a bar chart shows you how many words you need to complete in your daily writing session. You can even decide on which days of the week you want to write.
Don’t have Scrivener? I’ve heard good things about Pacemaker.
4. Answer the big WHY: why do you want to be more productive?
Why do you want to manage your time better? What do you hope to achieve with your writing? It’s hard to get motivated if you’re not sure what you’re getting out of it.
Make a list of your own “whys.” They’ll be personal, and you don’t need to share your list with anyone else. Be sure to write it down.
5. Visualize: see yourself writing easily, and see your published book in your mind’s eye
It’s hard to write when you’re distracted. I’ve found that the easiest way to help myself to focus is to use my imagination. I close my eyes, and picture myself at my desk, writing easily. Then I imagine that I’m uploading my WIP to Amazon. 🙂
It works. Usually I visualize just before I drop off to sleep at night. Remembering to do it is a challenge, but when I do visualize the next day’s activities for a few minutes, I manage my time much better. Try this simple process to see whether it works for you.
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Update: April 22, 2022