How to Manage Time: The Writer’s Edition
People don’t talk about what a difficult task writing is. It is often chalked off to talent, and hard work and technique take the back seat. But writing is an obsessive occupation, we writers know that. In such a hazardous occupation, time management is key. In addition to actually boosting your productivity, it also enhances your creativity.
So, to help you out, we’ve done some research and compiled some tips on how you could be a more productive writer this NaNoWriMo.
Make a to-do list
Everyone has a different way to go about it. You could make separate lists for your writing goals, or make one that combines the rest of your tasks so that you can streamline your time accordingly. A weekly/daily to-do list would be ideal, as monthly can be far-fetched or overwhelming.
Here are resources you could use to make your list:
- Google calendars, which will give you reminders so you don’t forget your tasks
- Trello, where you can also store resources
- Pinterest and bullet journal forums, for inspiration
- Go old school, and make one by hand and stick it on your fridge or bulletin board!
Are there any other tools you use that we haven’t already mentioned? Let us know in the comments.
Get chores out of the way
Getting out daily and/or menial tasks out of the way gives you peace, satisfaction and the ability to actually work on your writing goals. Finish all your chores first – do laundry, make food, shop for groceries, clean your house – do whatever you need to do. Take some help, if that works for you. And then approach your desk to write with finality and determination. The idea is to make sure that you’re not incessantly worried about anything else while you’re writing.
Find your writing spot
Time is not the only factor that contributes to productivity. It’s also really important to have an inspiring workspace that motivates you to actually get some work done.
Some people like the noise of a local cafe. while others like the silence of their room. Regardless, the goal is to find your comfort zone. Get a plant, perhaps. Maybe some scented candles too. Keep all your writing material in an accessible distance. Plug in earphones.
Having a regular writing spot also conditions you to get your work done there. Create a space that makes you feel, “That’s where I’ve always wanted to work.”
Be well-fed and safe
Don’t fall for the romanticized notion of the struggling/obsessive artist. Get your food sorted. Make meal plans. That will make sure you’re not always preoccupied about the next meal. If you want to munch an apple in the middle of writing, do that. Your faves did it.
As far as time management goes, if you don’t take care of your own basic needs they will haunt you forever. Sort out the essentials, then get to writing and self-actualization.
Read your favourite writers for inspiration
Speaking of your faves, another thing that would be helpful is to read your favourite writers for inspiration. Keep a few go to books at your desk. Do you have that one book that you always flip through to spark creativity? Or a book/essay by your favourite writer about the art of writing? Now you know where they go. On your desk.
Write first. Edit later.
Don’t write and edit simultaneously.
One of the biggest impediments o0f a writer is stopping yourself to doubt. In the internet age, where the visibility of competitors’ progress is in abundance, it’s easy to think that your work is not up to the mark (whatever that means). So you self-censor, stop to edit and make changes, and eventually, you hit ‘delete’ and stop.
But that’s a bad path to go down if you want to succeed. Just. Write. You’re writing because you have things to say; you have a goal. So do exactly that. Write down all you have to say. Then take a (long) break. Sleep over it, go for a walk, visit a friend – basically, get away from your work for a while.
Then, come back, with fresh eyes, and edit. Edit the previous day’s work as a warm-up and start anew.
Time yourself, and take breaks!
One of the most efficient ways to plot your goals is to time them. Get a timer.
Recognise what your writing capacity is. Simply put, your writing capacity is the amount of time that you can write continously, irrespective of how many words you write in that slot. That is how long you should write in one go. It could be 20 minutes, 1 hour or even 3 hours (if you’re superhuman). Then take a break – the shorter your writing capacity is, the shorter your break should be. Do this two or three times continuously, and then take a longer break. The Pomodoro technique of break-taking is also something like this.
Make writing buddies
Writing may be a solitary act. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t take a bit of help, now and then. Having writing buddies often helps you to keep your goals in check. It keeps you accountable. They can provide you with fresh perspectives, and you can bounce ideas off each other.
Twitter’s #writingcommunity tag is a good place to start. It’s always active, and you’re likely to get instant feedback/interaction. Subreddits and discussion forums are also valuable spaces to connect with the writing community. Or, you could even have a writing buddy IRL: have a friend that you check in with at regular intervals.
Unexpected inspiration: Maximise it!
Inspiration often comes in unexpected doses, especially if you are in the middle of another task. Have you ever felt the urge to write in the middle of a boring sales pitch, or when you’re travelling solemnly in the bus? For these moments, keep an idea book, or a pen and paper with you. Infact, keep them with you at all times. Document every random idea or writing. It can be a sentence, or a paragraph, or even a whole page!
Do your own thing, boo
Recognise your strengths. Fortunately, there is no one way to go about finding the best writing schedule/zone for you. All we can do is lead you to tips and techniques. But at the end of the day, you need to mix, match and customize them to see what suits you best. If it takes time, that’s okay, because trial and error is the best. If you like chores to get out of your way, that’s good. But if you like to do them in the middle of work, as a break, that works too! Writing is as much about the art as it is about the technique, right?
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