Time-management for writers

I think of myself as a full-time writer, though I’m really not. The kids and the house take many of my hours away. However, in that “part-time” status, I do work 7 days a week and up to 7 hours a day.

Not all of my hours are the same. I write novels, non-fiction for hire, other things for hire, this blog, Grace’s blog, do research, read industry news, and various other things. And in all of that, I’m beginning to feel harried and at a loss for where my time is best spent. I think we all have this problem. So I’ve gotten some advice from the pros thanks to an article in C. Hope Clark’s email newsletter, written by Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz.

Full-time writer Devon Ellington devotes 8 hours a day to writing, but how much time goes where depends on what’s up at bat. The first thing that falls by the wayside is social networking, she says.

Full-time writer Jane Yolen (a favorite of mine) breaks her day into hours. 3-5 writing and revising, 2 doing queries, planning tours and marketing. She also works a 7-day week.

By contrast, Charlee Compo spends 3/4 of her time on email, her web page and marketing, and in the other 1/4, works on her novels. She usualy writes three at a time and tries to write a chapter a day in each of them. Which brings me to wonder exactly how much time does she devote to working per day if she’s writing 3 chapters in 1/4 of her work-time, or how short are these chapters? It’s got to take at least a little time to get your mind to move from one book to the next, doesn’t it?

Some part-time published authors also suggest that you don’t do anything until you’ve written in the morning, not even open your email. Many of them amass a huge number of hours on their writing, which is essential if you want to improve, but some numbers seem daunting (even a bit fictional).

So my advice (which I’ll be taking myself) is:

1) List the tasks you have to do, and asign each of them a level of importance.

2) Give the most hours to the items at the top of the list and work your way down.

3) Stick to the times you’ve set out and see how they pan out. You can always adjust later and on an ongoing basis, but now you’ll know where you’re spending your time.

4) Post your hours somewhere you and others can see it to help keep you on task.

Good luck, peeps! Keep writing.

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3 thoughts on “Time-management for writers

  1. Penny Ehrenkranz says:

    Hi Chris,
    I’m a bit late in seeing this post. I’m glad you were able to use the information in my article. It’s always heartening to know that what I’ve written is helpful to at least one reader. Good luck with your own writing.

  2. Tracey says:

    Who’s this ‘Chris?’ Sorry, Penny! Just busting your chops. Your article was very informative. Thanks for stopping by.

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