I don’t know how many different reasons I’ve heard offered for why writers don’t write. Of course, lack of time tends to be the #1 reason cited. The second most-cited reason is lack of time management. Once writers find time to write, they simply don’t manage that time well.
If you find yourself in this category, it’s time (pun intended) to learn to schedule your writing time, or to create a schedule for the time you have. Then you have to stick to that schedule, which can actually be the hardest part of writing-time management.
How will You Prioritize and Organize Your Time?
To ensure that you actually write every day, week or month, you must make your writing a priority. That means you have to put writing periods on your to-do list and on your calendar. Then you have to actually get the “task” done and at an appointed time. How you make this happen is up to you, but it does require some sort of organizational method.
Everyone works differently. I like to-do lists. I use a mind map to create my daily, weekly and monthly to-do list, and I typically run through my list by both priority and interest level. That means that sometimes the writing doesn’t happen until late in the day if that’s when my interest in writing peaks or when the time to devote to writing opens up. Often other tasks simply take precedence or priority over writing until later in the day. However, if I’m working on a book deadline, or a blog post or article deadline, writing might be my first priority, and I may even put it on my calendar, actually blocking out several hours in the morning. That means on that day email, social networking, and even client or customer issues have to wait until my writing period ends.
Schedule Your Writing Periods
Many people like to use their calendar to actually schedule writing periods. You may prefer finding a regular writing period every day or week when you know you have availability to write. Maybe first thing in the morning works for you, or at lunch time, or for three hours in the afternoon, for example. Possibly, you only have weekends for writing. You put “writing” on your Saturday and Sunday afternoon calendar as a two-hour activity.
You might also find that your schedule differs every day. In this case, it becomes extremely important to use your calendar to block out time to write based on your varying schedule. This is the only way you will get it done. You must put “writing” down in a block of time each day or week.
How Much Time will You Schedule?
That brings us to a very important point. You have to know how much time you will spend writing each day, week or month. You may only have a certain amount of time available. You then only can work with that. If, however, want to write two hours per day, that’s a decision you make. Then you need to schedule that time on your calendar.
So determine or decide how much time you will spend writing per day, week or month. Then get it scheduled.
Note: If you are blogging or writing essays or articles, you might be thinking in terms of a blog post a day, an essay a week, an article a month. Some writers like to think in terms of how many words they produce in any given writing period; in this case, the time block is less important (and you may need more or less time depending upon how fast your writing progresses on any given day).
How Much Time Do You Need to Meet Your Goals?
If you are working on a particular project, the amount of time you schedule may be determined by your goal of completing that project. For example, when I work with writers who are blogging books, we determine how many posts they need to write to complete the book. They then determine how often they will publish those posts, which tells them how long it will take to finish blogging the book. They can then schedule time to write a certain number of blog posts per week to meet their goal of completing the book by a certain date.
If you are simply writing a book or article, and you schedule time around finishing that project, you need to have some idea how fast you write. I write between 750 and 1,000 words per hour. If I have a 50,000 word book to turn in to a publisher in five months, I could easily figure out how many one-hour writing periods I need to schedule to complete the first draft of the book. (I also would need to leave time for revisions.)
I usually recommend scheduling in extra time in case you get behind and need to catch up. This simply can be some additional writing sessions placed on your calendar, an extra weekend or two devoted to the project, or some longer-than-usual sessions that allow you to produce more words or pages.
What all of this assumes is that you have:
- Found or created the time to write
- Made writing a priority
- Scheduled writing blocks
- Sat down in the chair and written
That’s really the only way you will ever get anything written. As the saying goes, writers write. Organize your time so you can, indeed, write.