Saturday, April 12, 2014

Time Management for Part Time Novelists

There's no secret making a living as an author is hard work and only the top one per cent of the bestselling authors can truly afford to pay the bills and live a decent lifestyle from their works.  For the remaining 99 per cent of us, its a life of juggling different jobs and becoming good at multitasking. Making time to write a chapter in between family and work responsibilities is a challenge for the best of us, as life gets in the way.  At times an unfinished manuscript has to be put on hold for a while, or can be left unfinished indefinitely.  Time management is especially important for those of us fortunate enough to have a day job or school to attend to, and it requires a lot of dedication and self-discipline.  Writing isn't doesn't always seem like the best way to spend the time after a long day, but its important to write often, otherwise risk long stretches of time with nothing to show for it.  It gets easy to say, 'maybe later,' and the more time that goes by, the easier it gets to put it off. Its a place many writers have struggled through at some point in their writing careers but there is a way to combat it.  Form a writing strategy for time management to work around your schedule to suit your needs.  A strategy will help provide goals and keep you focused on the path to a completed manuscript.  Here is a list of popular strategies that can prove effective. 
  1. Word Count: This is an easy way to make the novel more attainable and keep you writing and meeting goals everyday.  First decide on an easily attainable amount of words you can write in a day.  Use that number a minimum daily goal and strive to achieve it, make it small enough that it doesn't seem like a daunting task, and if you miss a day just double to word count the next day to stay on track.  If you know you wont have time one day, its easy to write extra the day before to make up for it.  With this strategy its easy to form a time line for when the first draft will be completed by deciding on a rough estimate of words the novel needs to reach, then figuring out how many days it should take.  I like to use this technique by writing 500 words each weekday and 1000 on weekends.  Often I write more but the small number makes it easier to stick to, and means I can give myself the odd day off without putting myself behind my goal end date. 
  2.  Set Aside Time: Schedule in a certain amount of time each day dedicated to writing. Attempt to make it the same amount of time each day to just focus on work.  This strategy will best benefit those writers who don't like the pressure of a set deadline they need to meet, like the word count technique but will keep you writing everyday just the same.  The downside is it makes it difficult to predict how long the novel will take to complete, because the amount of writing done each day will vary depending on writers block, research that needs to be done and how much editing goes on and many other factors.  I've used this in the past and find it works best by setting aside an hour each day, less time and it becomes harder to get into the mindset of writing before the time is over.  For quick writers its easier to get more words in than with the word count strategy, but there will be slow days. 
  3. A Series of Deadlines: Having time to write every single day is difficult and impossible for some people.  This strategy works well for very disciplined people who can trust themselves to meet deadlines without setting aside any specific time for writing. Figure out either how many chapters the novel will be or the estimated word count expected and divide it into a set of deadlines to be reached.  For example, completing a chapter a week or reaching another 10,000 word marker on the first and 15th of the month. Anything works, and its easy to get an idea on how long the draft will take.  Remember to make time for editing as well.  
Hopefully these suggestions are helpful.  They are not the only ways at battling the time management problem.  Please leave a comment or suggestion it you have a tried strategy or find any of these beneficial. 

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