Time Management For Writers: Proven Principles

Posted on Jul 14, 2023

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Written by P.J McNulty

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Time is a crucial factor for writers. It’s not just a measurement of hours or minutes; it’s the space where your ideas grow and your work develops. 

Effective time management can lead to a completed project, while poor time management can leave you with a jumble of incomplete thoughts.

Time management strategies for writers 

There are many time management strategies that can improve your productivity as a writer. 

This isn’t about finding more hours in the day, but about making each hour productive. This guide will outline several methods that can help you utilize your time better.

Why does time matter for writers? 

Understanding time’s role in writing involves recognizing its contribution to your creative process. 

Writing time isn’t limited to the hours you spend physically writing. It’s also the time you use to think about your characters, plan your plot, and revise your work.

 Proper time management turns your time into a productive tool that enables creativity and idea development.

A lot of time spent on writing doesn’t guarantee progress. It’s about how effectively that time is used. With the right strategies, even short periods of focused writing can be productive.

Examples of authors using time management 

1. J.K. Rowling

Rowling wrote her first book while working full-time and raising her child as a single parent. She’s a good example of how efficient use of limited time can lead to success.

2. Stephen King

King is known for his fast writing pace, which he maintains by following a strict routine and writing 2,000 words a day. This shows the productivity possible with disciplined time management.

3. Maya Angelou

 Angelou would write in a hotel room from 6:30 AM to 2 PM daily, free from distractions. Her practice shows the benefit of setting specific times for writing.

4. Haruki Murakami

Murakami wakes up at 4 AM and writes for five to six hours each day. His practice shows the importance of consistency in managing writing time.

5. Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway often stopped writing mid-work when things were going well, which maintained his momentum. This technique shows how managing your writing time also involves knowing when to stop.

Why should writers prioritise? 

 Prioritization is a key time management strategy for writers. It involves deciding what tasks are most important and focusing on them first. 

For instance, if you’re working on a book, you might decide that completing a first draft is your priority. 

Other tasks, like research or revising earlier works, could then be scheduled for later.

Can scheduling help writers? 

Scheduling is another essential strategy for managing your writing time. 

This involves creating a writing timetable that fits into your lifestyle. You could choose specific hours every day for writing, or dedicate entire days to it if your schedule allows. 

The goal is to have consistent, dedicated time for writing.

How do I use time blocking as a writer? 

Time blocking involves assigning specific blocks of time to different writing tasks. 

This could mean setting aside an hour for brainstorming ideas, another hour for drafting, and another for editing. 

By dedicating specific time blocks to different tasks, you can focus better and avoid the stress of multitasking.

How do writers manage distractions? 

Distraction management is crucial for making the most of your writing time. 

This involves eliminating potential distractions during your writing hours. It could mean turning off your phone, using apps that block distracting websites, or finding a quiet place to write. 

The aim is to create an environment that lets you focus solely on your writing.

Tools and apps for time management 

1. Todoist

This app allows you to create and manage tasks, set deadlines, and prioritize tasks.

2. Google Calendar

You can use this tool to schedule your writing times and set reminders.

3. Trello

This app helps you manage your writing projects and track your progress.

4. Evernote

You can use Evernote to jot down ideas and notes for your writing.

5. Forest

This app helps you stay focused by blocking distracting apps and websites during your writing time.

Project management tools for authors 

Specific software can also aid in managing writing projects. 

Writing software like Scrivener allows you to organize your work into chapters or scenes, keep track of character details, and even set word count targets. It helps you manage your writing project as a whole, making it easier to see the big picture and keep track of your progress.

Quick tips for writing time management 

If you’re looking for quick ideas on how to make better use of your time as a writer, give these a go:

1. Schedule writing around your job

 If you have a full-time job, try to find pockets of time for writing, like during lunch breaks or after work.

2. Family time

 Ensure you allocate time for your family. This can improve your work-life balance and prevent burnout.

3. Hobbies

 Make sure to set aside time for activities you enjoy outside writing. They can serve as a refreshing break.

4. Exercise

 Regular physical activity is important for your health and can also help clear your mind for writing.

5. Rest

Ensure you get enough sleep. Fatigue can hinder your writing performance and creativity.

What should writers know about self-care?

Self-care and downtime are vital in a writer’s schedule. 

This involves taking regular breaks, ensuring adequate rest, and engaging in activities you enjoy. 

Neglecting these can lead to burnout, which can adversely affect your writing.

 Thus, effective time management isn’t just about increasing productivity; it’s also about maintaining a healthy balance between work and rest.

Procrastination and writing

Procrastination is a common challenge that writers face. 

It’s the act of delaying or avoiding tasks that need to be done, often resulting in wasted time. 

Understanding why you procrastinate can be the first step toward overcoming it. 

Common reasons include fear of failure, perfectionism, or feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand.

To combat procrastination, it’s crucial to acknowledge when it happens and understand what triggers it. 

Are you afraid of not meeting your own expectations? 

Do you get easily overwhelmed when thinking about the whole project instead of breaking it down into smaller tasks? 

Recognizing these patterns can help you take steps to overcome procrastination.

How to deal with overwhelm and procrastination as a writer

1. Break it down

Instead of viewing the writing project as a whole, break it down into smaller tasks. This can make it seem less daunting.

2. Set realistic goals

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Set achievable writing goals to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

3. Use time blocking

Assign specific time blocks for different tasks. This can help you avoid procrastination by providing a structured plan.

4. Reward yourself

Rewards can motivate you to complete tasks. Give yourself a treat when you achieve your writing goal for the day.

5. Stay positive

 Maintain a positive mindset. Don’t let fear of failure or perfectionism hinder your progress.

Know your personal time management style

Every writer is unique, and so are their needs and constraints when it comes to managing time. 

Therefore, it’s important to evaluate your personal situation before creating a time management plan. 

Consider your daily commitments, your best times for writing, and what typically distracts or interrupts your work. 

This will help you create a plan that suits your specific circumstances.

Step by step time management plan for writers 

1. Identify your goals

Understand what you want to achieve with your writing.

2. Evaluate your current routine

Determine what’s working and what’s not in your current writing schedule.

3. Create a new schedule

Based on your evaluation, create a new schedule that includes specific times for writing.

4. Implement new strategies

 Apply the time management techniques discussed earlier, such as prioritization, time blocking, and distraction management.

5. Adjust and refine

After some time, review your plan. Make necessary adjustments to ensure it continues to serve your writing needs effectively.

Time management is a crucial skill for any writer. 

It’s not just about maximizing productivity; it’s about creating a balance between your writing and other aspects of your life. 

It’s about ensuring that your writing journey is not just successful, but also enjoyable and sustainable. 

So, take the first step today. 

Evaluate your current approach, adopt effective time management strategies, and witness the remarkable difference it makes in your writing journey.

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