How many words to write…a creative person’s lesson in time management

I am a writer. That means that while I do many things, my mind is in Never Never Land, working out the stories in my head. If it sounds a little crazy, that’s because…well…it is.

I discuss my writing habits with many people, and because I have small children and several endeavors in development, the fact that I have completed no less than seven novels in two and half years may sound impressive (twelve overall, with six under contract with Bluewood Publishing and the rest of my work now represented by Dee Mura Literary). But the thing is, anyone can accomplish certain word counts. The tough job is ensuring that what’s coming through the tips of my fingers is quality. This doesn’t always happen on the first go around, and usually the editing process hones the story and makes it sing.

However, even though I’m a creative writer, I am organized. That doesn’t mean my house is filled with perfectly stacked, labeled storage bins. If only. But it does mean that I make lists, and plenty of them. And generally, except for the grocery list that disappears to its own version of Never Never Land right before I reach the store, these lists help me organize my wild and crazy life.

But whether you’re the OCD poster child or more of a “What? It’s midnight already and I just got out of my pajamas!” type , managing time, especially time for writing, can be achieved. Here’s a few methods for fitting that book into your life–no matter how busy.

Review your free time – Think of it this way: the time of day you’d be watching your favorite shows or surfing social media is free time. Try to calculate how much time you spend doing it. This is time that can go directly to your writing. Now, I’ll caution that you should definitely set time aside to read, especially in the genre you’re writing. And, if you absolutely must watch the finale of the Bachelorette, just DVR it. Those commercials are stealing your life away.

Organize your story – From my experience, if I know where I’m going, I’ll get there faster. You don’t have to possess a comprehensive outline, and actually, spending too much time outlining can distract from what really needs to be done–yeah, writing. But when I know what big scenes are coming and a good idea of how I want to reach them, the words flow faster. This also pertains to research–taking time to get it done (visiting locales, interviewing specialists, reading nonfiction material) will only speed up the storytelling process.

Take a break; strengthen relationships. I could always be writing. It’s a hard switch to turn off. In fact, I carry a notebook everywhere to jot down ideas as they come to me. But I need to turn off the brain faucet from time to time–and I do. My family and friends, my health, and my other odd-but-awesome jobs (Edmond Sun‘s Mom Around Town and Metropolitan Library System writing classes) are priorities that can’t be shirked. Developing strong relationships as a writer sits at the top of my list, because not only can writing be a lonely profession, but I write better people when I spend time with people. I also write more hopeful stories from living a full and positive life (despite the setbacks, heartbreak, and tragedy that are inherent in life), and at the end of the day, that’s the kind of thing I want to put out there.

So don’t worry. Be happy, and write on:)

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