July 26th, 2021

3 Steps to Make Time to Write

By Kris Maze

It’s summertime in the U.S., but it wouldn’t be the same without 2 great traditions: Barbeque and Baseball. When I think of summer, I have a longing for picnics: the smells of the grill sizzling meats and veggies while a watermelon slice drips down my wrist, laughing together while the radio plays our favorite team in the background. The last thing I want at that moment is to have a nagging feeling that I haven’t finished my writing goals.

In today’s post, we will examine how I used time management to create a schedule for my productivity goals and lifestyle. If you want to read about how I used a refocusing strategy to declutter my tasks and to prioritize my writing projects, you can find that WITS post here.

Many writers say that if they could have one change in their writing life, it would be to have more time.  These 3 Steps may not only help you find more time to write, but also make your time more productive.  Sound interesting?  Let’s get you back to your summer fun by carefully crafting your Writing to-do list.

Not convinced? 

Other reasons to dive into your Time Management Process:

  1. Accountability – When you commit to a schedule, you become accountable to your dreams. And you are more likely to accomplish them.
  2. Get Unstuck – Keeping a routine will help a writer skip through the natural bumps and bruises one gets on their fingers and motivation.  Plan your time and stay involved in your own writing life.
  3. You’re a busy person!  Save your mental stress for the creative process and get your writing schedule under control.
  4. Tiny Vampires – Tiny Time Vampires. If you don’t take stock in your most precious resource, other priorities and distractions will.
  5. Be Mindful – Get more satisfaction from your writing, by being purposeful in your author journey.

In my last post, we set preposterous author goals, categorized them, and evaluated each project on our list.  We used a Gut Check to identify how we felt about finishing them and a Reality Check by figuring out which projects would be the easiest to complete.

Now that we have figured out our goals and prioritized which ones were the easiest to finish, it is time to reflect on what worked.  After a couple weeks, here are a few reflections about what I accomplished:

  • My work has become more streamlined. I waste less time and batch similar tasks together.
  • My stress level has decreased, and I am more satisfied with my completed work.
  • My energy level is increased, and it is easier to produce better writing with a smoother editing process.
  • I am checking off items and accomplishing my goals.

In success, showing up is sometimes the hardest battle or in baseball terms – you have to step up to bat to get a hit. 

Time in baseball is relative as it is in writing. A game should last nine innings, but some have a longer duration.  The longest game in professional baseball history lasted 33 innings, with 8 hours and 25 minutes of playing time! A half-inning is determined by 3 outs which can occur in mere minutes, or after the entire team rotation bats.  The slow build of the game also makes it unpredictable.

Like baseball, writing sessions and tasks can vary based on many factors, but we can manage our writing time and enjoy it.

3 Steps to Better Time Management

Step 1: Review Calendar

The first step is to look at what worked and to examine the priorities set in the last planning session.

For my scheduling, I use a horizontal planner with weekly entries.  On each week, I draw a line vertically down the center of each page.  This gives me a space on each day for what I planned to do on the left side and to write what I actually did on the right.  On the reflection side, I write the tasks I completed along with the time it took and the word count.

This took about 10 minutes.  Some of the planned tasks were too ambitious for my lifestyle and didn’t happen at all.  I took this into account in the next planning session as I used this information to better iterate my schedule.

Don’t forget to celebrate the success you had!  Any goal accomplished deserves a little self-love.

Step 2: Reassess each Task.

As I reflected on the progress of each task, I found the pieces that worked for me and added those into the next planning session. I adjusted the times and the order of tasks to better suit my goals. 

Another result of this reflection was that repeating an task makes it faster to complete. For example, many writers start a session with editing the page from the previous day.  One of my goals was to keep my writing fresh, so I began with the final editing run through before starting a new session each day.

I made notes on my calendar to help in the next step of the planning process.

Step 3: Reschedule Tasks.

With the new information, I decided which tasks would get me to my writing goals. 

This step started with figuring out which potential times I had available. I tried to be more realistic about when my productive writing happened. I also took into consideration other daily commitments along with necessary downtime.

  • Early Mornings 1 hour max
  • Lunch 30 minutes
  • After Work 1-2 hours
  • Evenings 2-3 hours

I blocked off the times I would devote to writing on my planner with colorful pens and highlighters.

When I was intentional about scheduling, I had to be honest with myself in order to make this process work.  After seeing that only one morning session resulted in a decent word count, I realized those times were not really an option.  Even though early mornings are better times for me creatively, I only attempt them on days I won’t need extra sleep.

Another example is that I can write non-fiction, like blog posts and educational materials, at night. I can also edit efficiently at night with others around me. So I would match up the tasks to the times that would set me up for success.

Now it’s time to play ball!  Relax knowing that your to-do list’s covered, and you planned times to accomplish the goals you set. Enjoy your summer, recharge your creative batteries, and finish your writing!

It’s your turn – How do you plan your writing work?  What techniques do you suggest to other writers?  What tips work for you? Please share them with us down in the comments!

*  *  *  *  *  *

About Kris

Kris Maze is an author, freelance writer, and teacher. She enjoys writing twisty, speculative fiction with character-driven plots. After years of reading classic literature, mysteries, and thrillers, she wrote and publish her own books. She also writes for various publications including a regular post at the award-winning Writers in the Storm Blog. 

When she isn’t spending time with her favorite people and pets, Kris Maze is taking pictures, hiking, or pondering the wisdom of Bob Ross. You can follow her author journey at her website at KrisMazeAuthor.com.

Look for her episodic YA dystopian fiction, Aurora and Watertown scheduled to release on Vella this summer!

Top Photo by Aron Visuals at Unsplash

11 responses to “3 Steps to Make Time to Write”

  1. jamesr403 says:

    Thanks, Kris. This couldn't have come at a better time.

    • Kris says:

      Hi James,
      Sometimes seeing how someone else structures their work time can help re-energize you own. I'm finding more free time - stressing less - along with time for writing this summer. 🙂

      I'm glad this arrived at the right moment for you - keep writing and reading here at WITS!

  2. Nice to reexamine how to make things work better.

    • Kris Maze says:

      Hi Traci,

      I am surprised at how much a little reflection can have in my writing life and I hope you find find it useful as well.

      Reflection is one of my go-to tools to keep my writing from derailing too much when I get into a creative tizzy. If this strategy can help other authors continue to write and accomplish their writing tasks, that's awesome.

      Thanks for the comment!
      Kris

  3. I love this! Perfect timing.

    I like how you realize your best times to write and plan accordingly. I do my best writing at night and into the wee hours.

    Streamlining the rest of my non writing processes will help to free up time for writing and reduce the stress that I should be writing.

    • Kris Maze says:

      Hi Alexsandra,

      Wonderful!

      Writers tend to stress about finding enough time to write (guilty!), but framing the problem to complete the mundane and necessary tasks can free up the creative mind to work more efficiently.

      Best of luck writing and check back at WITS for more writing insights. 🙂

      Kris

  4. Amy L Harden says:

    This came at a perfect time. I struggle with finding time to write and I don't have five kids at home to distract me any more. I am an older writer and life gets busy too. I am looking forward to working on my time management.

    • Kris Maze says:

      Hi Amy,
      As a busy mom who now has a few hours to herself, I can relate. Even though my time commitments have changed, it is still a challenge to carve out that time to write. It's all about realizing the dream of creating and hopefully this time management strategy can help authors focus on what they want most--to have publishable works!

      Thanks for the comment, Amy. I look forward to seeing you around the WITS blog!
      Kris

  5. Jenny Hansen says:

    I really needed to see this, Kris! I check my calendar obsessively, but the other two tips need some serious attention. 🙂

  6. dholcomb1 says:

    wonderful post.

    denise

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