Marian P. Merritt - Lagniappe

Where the Bayous Meet the Mountains

Monday, February 11, 2013

Writer’s Write. Right? – Time Management Tips for Writers. Part 1 of 2

Part 1  Setting Goals

Time Management Begins with Having a Direction

It used to be a writer’s only job was to write. In today’s publishing climate writers do much more. They edit, market, network, hone their craft, design, and well, network some more. 

It’s no wonder I’ve heard the question asked time and again: 

When can writers find time to write?

With the changing face of the publishing world, the role of the writer has changed. There’s more demand for the writer to market their work and that requires time. Especially for the typically introverted writer. 

Today more than ever, writers need good time management skills.

There are still only twenty-four hours in one day.

That hasn’t changed.

Let's look at a day as a bank account. Everything I do costs me in the payment of time.

Is trading my minutes to do something going to yield something worthwhile in return?

I must admit I’ve spent two hours of precious time watching some movies that I wish I hadn’t. Those 120 minutes are gone forever and what I’ve exchanged them for may have actually lowered my IQ. Not the best exchange for my time. The same is true for Social Media. Don't get caught in this CyberSpace Bermuda's Triangle.

  1.     Is what I’m spending these minutes on giving me 
      something of value in return?

a.     Am I wiser? Am I learning something new that will make me a better writer? A better person? Be more sensible in managing my household?

b.    Am I Wealthier? By managing my time am I saving money because I’m able to prepare meals at home instead of eating out? Am I saving money some other way?

c.     Will I save time in the future by doing this now? Meal planning, prepared blog posts, house cleaning, chapter outlines. The list here is endless.

If the answer to any of the above questions is no, think seriously about spending those minutes. 

With Internet access and so many social networking venues, families, and outside obligations it’s easy for writing time to disappear.

How does a writer stay on track with SO many distractions?

Define and guard writing time.

The first step in defining writing time is to make it a priority and set specific writing goals.

I usually set my overall goals for the year at the end of January or the first of February. Maybe it’s the rebel in me, but there’s something about setting goals on January 1 that doesn’t work for me. I’m usually worn out from the holidays, hung over from eating all the food I don’t typically eat, or just unable to focus.

Once I’ve had time to settle into the new year, overcome the effects of the holidays, and assess what’s priority for the coming year as far as writing goes I can set reasonable goals.

I’ve simplified the goal writing process. You can find much more comprehensive processes. But I’ve found that if I keep it simple, I’m likely to write manageable goals that I’ll actually achieve.

To Set Writing Goals:
1.             Make your goal specific and defined. 
       And most importantly DOABLE
       Don’t set yourself up for failure. 
       PLAN TO SUCEED by making your goals reasonable and possible.

I will write XX words this month.
I will finish XYZ story with 60K words by
        the end of XXX Month.
I will participate in an online group or solicit  
       my friends to keep me accountable for
       my word count.
I will edit XYZ story from xx/xx/xx to
       xx/xx/xx and submit it to XYZ 
       publisher/agent by XX/XX/XX.
Outline or Develop Character sketches for
      New Story. Etc…

You get the idea.

2.             Reward Yourself—Not only are you setting goals, you’re deciding how you’ll be rewarded when you meet each goal. It can be that new writing book you’ve wanted, a manicure, a new novel, a day of shopping. Be creative. Whatever spurs you onward.

3.             Write each specific goal on a separate 3 x 5 card along with the reward for completing that goal. Put the cards in the order of date/timeframe for completion.

Once you’ve completed each card, place the cards on your desk with the first card visible and where you can see it daily.

Once you’ve reached that goal, capture your reward and then flip the card behind the others. Your next goal is visible.
Continue until you reach the first goal again.

4.             Reassess on June 1st. Add, change, or remove goals as needed.

Next Tuesday, Part 2. A review of daily time-management writing tips and daily writing goals to work toward achieving your yearly goals. If you'd like to be notified by email when I post again, please sign up in the right margin.

Until next Tuesday, happy writing!

I’d like to hear some of your specific writing goals if you’d like to share.

Do you have a creative reward for reaching a writing goal?  Please consider sharing. Provided it’s rated G of course!

Happy Mardi Gras!

Thanks for visiting Lagniappe

I pray that you find "a little something extra" in each of your days.


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