Confession: I am absolutely terrible at time management. (Ok, maybe that’s not fair. I’m actually excellent at making plans and schedules, I just don’t follow them. 😉 ) But with a hefty helping of To-Do List on my plate, I realized it’s become essential that I learn how to manage my time more effectively. So maybe it was synchronicity that conveniently filled my inbox with blog posts about productivity and schedules last week. (Did I miss a memo about the approved topic of the week or something? Seriously, everyone was talking about it!) And since I’m not one to let a trend pass me by, I figured why not jump on the bandwagon. Even if I am a week late.
Below is a sampling of posts from that influx. I recommend you read them, since those people are much more adept at time management than I. But if you prefer to flail around with someone as clueless as yourself, you’re in the right place. Obviously, I’m the first to admit my short-comings in the scheduling department, and if you spend any time lurking around the literary blogosphere, then you know as well as I do that success in publishing goes hand-in-hand with being prolific. The problem is, it’s hard to be prolific when you don’t have time to write, isn’t it?
Enter the experts.
Every post I’ve ever read on productivity, time management or production schedules says the same things. Identify your writing time, whether that be early in the morning or late at night, on a commute to work or in short bursts throughout the day. Set a goal, typically suggested to be word count, but you’ll also see page count, or even scene. Put your butt in the chair and work. Seems so simple, doesn’t it? Thank you, Captain Obvious. Which is why I’ve generally lumped this advice into the same category as that touting weight loss results– eat less, exercise more and you too can look like Kim Kardashian! (Yeah, right. Like anyone believes that crock of poo.) But both these strategies can actually be true. (Except for maybe the Kardashian part. I’ve tried those Raspberry Ketones, and my butt still doesn’t fit into size zero jeans. You lie Ms. Kardashian, you lie!) The reason we doubt and whine and fight against it, saying that it can’t possibly be that easy, is because for many of us, it requires sacrifice. And we’re just not ready to commit to that yet.
I’m no different. I say I want to lose weight; that I want to write more. But the truth is, doing either requires giving up things I just don’t want to, like sleep, food or (God forbid!) TV. And since I’m not willing to sacrifice those things, guess what? I still haven’t finished even one novel, let alone the hundreds of others waiting for attention. I still haven’t lost any weight. And I still feel frustrated by my lack of progress. Sound familiar?
The post below by Dean Wesley Smith offers some particularly brutal truths, like how I actually fit into the category of “wanna-be writer” at the moment. Ouch. I don’t see myself that way, but against his measurements of success, I suppose he’s right. And that’s unacceptable. I refuse to be a wanna-be! There’s nothing I loathe more than being told I’m not good enough to do something. So thanks for the kick in the derrière, Mr. Smith. I accept your challenge. And I will prove you wrong. Who’s with me?
Over the next week, let’s take the advice listed in the blogs below. Let’s follow these simple steps, (even if they are a bitter pill to swallow), and let’s learn effective time management/production schedules together.
To being prolific! **Raises imaginary glass**
The Infamous Steps:
- Identify any spare time you can devote to writing and writing only. (If you’re math savvy, Mr. Smith’s post has an excellent formula that seems like it would work. Not being math savvy myself, it just made my head hurt. I already knew where my potential writing time was though, so I still did my homework. 😉 )
- Commit to becoming prolific. Meaning, take your writing seriously. If you start treating it like a profession instead of a hobby, eventually it will be. (This may mean the dreaded step of sacrificing something else you hold dear. In my case, sleep.)
- Set attainable goals. Decide what you work best with, be it word counts, page counts or finishing scenes/chapters per session. The trick is to set a goal that is actually attainable. I learned a tenet in the martial arts that I tend to apply (or try to, at least) to everything in life. “Do not be overly ambitious.” This is the perfect application of that. It’s easy to feel all gung-ho at the start of something, but we’re trying to establish a routine that will translate into long-lasting success. So start small. Set your goal within easy reach. You can always increase it later. (My goal is to start getting up at the dreaded 5 AM one day a week. That will give me two hours of dedicated writing time I didn’t have before, but isn’t quite as scary as committing to being awake before the sun on a daily basis.)
- Show up and do the work. Whatever schedule you’ve chosen will only be effective if you actually use it. So set aside any fears or doubts that you won’t be able to constrain your muse to a rigid schedule (honestly, I have quite a lot of reservations to that affect), unplug the internet so you won’t be tempted to waste your precious writing time on Facebook, Pinterest or Email, and write. Some days you might exceed your goal ten-fold; other days you might only get a few words out. But every step brings you closer to the ultimate finish line of being a successful, prolific writer. (And proving Mr. Smith wrong.)
5 Quick Tips to Writing More by Kathy Steffen of The How to Write Shop
Productivity by Zoe Winters
Being Prolific by David Farland of David Farland’s Kick in the Pants
How to Write More and Create a Daily Writing Habit by Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn
The New World of Publishing: How to Keep Production Going All Year by Dean Wesley Smith