As creatives, writers have a tendency to fall into the typical right-brained stereotypes that include words like “spontaneous”, “artistic” and … “disorganized.” For years, I wore that last word with pride. Disorganization wasn’t a negative to me—it was just part and parcel or being someone who enjoyed life and art.
I’d like to think I’ve learned some things with age and busy motherhood. The older I get and the more I accumulate on my plate, the more I realize the freedom that comes with organization. As I’ve honed my craft as a writer, time management is one of the tools I’ve learned to add to my skillset. Here are some things that have helped me:
A writing schedule is key.
In order for me to be able get writing done consistently and productively, having a writing schedule and a plan for writing is invaluable. Whether you’re part of the 5 a.m. writer’s club or you stay up to write when everyone else is asleep, the best way to get solid writing time is to carve out some part of the day that you can dedicate to writing uninterrupted.
Breaks and rest are important.
That said, when you’re a busy writer, one of the most important ways to keep yourself motivated is to give yourself the rest you need. So often, writers can push themselves to participate in difficult challenges like NaNoWriMo (where you write an entire novel in the month of November).
But in order to write effectively, your creative well can’t be empty. Without the rest you need, you run the risk of burnout.
Learn to say no.
As a busy writer, you’ll quickly find that rest isn’t the only thing you’ll need to keep yourself going. It’s incredibly important to limit your obligations and responsibilities and not over-extend yourself. If you take too much on, you limit how much energy (and time) you’ll have to devote to writing.
Assemble a team.
One of the best ways I found to keep myself on track and on schedule as a writer was to have people that I was accountable to. With my critique group, this means having new material to submit by a certain deadline. A team of other writers or editors to work with can help keep you on track when you have a project you need to complete.
Limit your distractions.
While I truly believe that it’s important for writers to learn to write under a range of circumstances—there comes a time in writing anything that you need to focus without distractions. This can mean going to a new, quiet space, or turning off the music or tv in the background while you finish a project.
While time management can sound like the antithesis to spontaneity and creativity in writing, it’s actually an incredible way to get focused and write more effectively. The more you organize, the more you’ll find that a writing plan can make your writing time more productive. And at the end of the day, productive writing time means more final drafts.