Organize Your Writing Time

You dream of publishing. You practice to increase your skills. You enter contests, write and submit short pieces, agent shop and generate speaking engagements. Oh and you still do your day job. How is a writer supposed to find time for all of it?
Writing Tip for Today: While it’s true some people are more interested in organizing than others, dividing your writing time into categories might help. When I ran a full-time day care, parented my four kids and all the stuff that comes with it, I made time to write and do these other writer-things by categorizing. Here are some suggestions:

  • Seasons of Life. Writers are always telling me they can’t write because of the “season of their lives.” It can be babies, business or aging or ill parents. Although these times may cut down on your writing time considerably, you don’t have to cut writing out entirely. I wrote only one hour per day during nap time when my day care kids rested. A current writing student has brain cancer, underwent surgery, is receiving radiation and chemo. Yet he’s still showing up at our weekly writer’s group when he can and writing when he feels well enough. When my kids were young and my writing time limited, I learned to get up earlier, stay up later or find ways to sneak in a bit of writing.Write something, even if it’s a journal entry. 
  • Days of the Week. I also made a schedule where I did certain writing tasks on different days of the week. Fridays were always marketing–I’d prepare and send out submissions, check for calls for submissions or prepare agent queries. Take your weekly writing time and divide at least three ways: Writing, Revising, Submitting. Rotate these three categories so you can maintain some of each of these important areas.
  • Be Able to Find Stuff. I am no Martha Stewart–my desk is usually contained chaos. But I try to know where things are in the piles. Try starting out with colored files for different projects, and keep all your reference books (market guides, thesauri, dictionaries, etc) in one spot. For writers forced to work on the kitchen table, get expandable files or a portable rolling hanging file holder. Even if you are completely digital, it’s a good idea to have a hard copy of the work–and indispensable when you need to take it to critique or just to read aloud. On the computer, use Excel or a log of some sort to keep track of submissions and queries. Organizing your writing time help you be more productive and maintain that BIC commitment.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

9 comments on “Organize Your Writing Time

  1. Thanks, Mary! My story of writing while running a day care just came out in a new Chicken Soup book called Inspiration for Writers. I’d place a typewriter on my stove top and type standing up as the kids rested around the corner in my living room, so I could check on them without getting up. Write on! ~Linda

  2. Your process puts many of us to shame when we make excuses that we are too busy because we need to do our shopping, laundry, beauty shop. LOL. Retired now, and no little kids or any excuse, so guess I better sit down and write. Oops, no, I have a meeting to attend. Later! For sure. Mean it!

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