Sunday, August 21, 2011

I don’t have time!!! - Time Management For Writers

A typical trade paperback can range from 90,000 to 100,000 word. Randomly typing that many words would take an experienced keyboarder (typing at about 75 words per minute) about 20 hours. And that’s just typing random words. Typing words that make good sentences, paragraphs and chapters can take upwards of 200 hours (assuming we can write twenty well thought words per minute) to complete a 90,000 word novel. And that’s only draft one….whew!

So how do we write a novel and not have it take years and years? How do we fit it into our daily schedules while not neglecting any of our other obligations. They say if a person really wants to do
something they will make time to do it. But here are a few tips that might help getting there become a reality.

1) Establish a writing schedule-
When doing this there are several things to evaluate; when your creativity is the freshest, when you have the most free time, and when you can find the time and place to work uninterrupted. In the summer my writing time is when I first get up. The house is quiet and I can get some work done before starting the day. Of course, this means I have to get up earlier than everyone else, so if you like to sleep in, this might not work for you. During the school year I have a block of time I schedule to write during the afternoons, and I sometimes work in the evenings. I try to devote at least two hours a day to my novel, and I have a time scheduled on Saturdays to write my weekly blog post, and do critiquing. Finding two hours a day is not a necessity to completing a novel, however. Any amount of time, large or small, as long as you’re putting words on the page, can bring you closer to your final goal.

2) Establish a daily and weekly word count goal -
When I’m in first draft mode my daily word count goal is 1,500 to 2,000 words a day with an average of 10,000 words a week. Some weeks I write more, some less. But I do try to keep to my goal, without driving myself crazy with it. Goals are guidelines, not deadlines. I do find however, that having a goal helps keep me focused on how my time is spent, and if I’m spending too much, or too little, focusing on my writing.

3) Learn to say no -
During the school year, when I have less time to write, keeping my goal often means giving up things I’d rather be doing, such as watching movies, taking on extra hobbies, talking on the phone, etc. Although there are times when I give into the temptation of watching an hour of Pride and Prejudice, rather than writing that extra 1,000 words, I try not to let it happen too often. I’m constantly re-evaluating how I use my time. I also try and make sure I’m not neglecting things that really matter, such as time with the Lord and spending time with family. But lets be realistic, if we say yes to one thing we have to say no to another. Writing a novel is a large endeavor and it will mean saying no to things.

4) Don’t Say You Will Make Time Later -
We may think we’ll have time later, but we won’t. Busyness is a plague in the culture we live in today, and we often get caught up in the “do more” mentality. However, any amount of time devoted to something, no matter how small, does matter. I also find that when I work on something consistently it becomes important to me and I want to see it through to completion. Later may never come. So if you really want to accomplish something its best not to put it off with the thought that you will do it when life slows down, because it never will.

Author Jody Hedlund wrote an excellent blog post on this topic. She says, “It’s not always about how much time we have, but rather how we use it.” We all have the same twenty-fours in a day. Unless we take the time to write that sentence, paragraph, chapter and complete manuscript, lets face it - it just won’t get done!

Your Turn - How do you make time for your writing? Do you find making time is easy? I look forward to reading your comments!

Happy Writing….

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