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Mar 2, 2020

Time Management for Writers

By Paula Chapman, author of The Supplier, Vacation.

Ever notice the difference in the level of productivity among writers? The ones who seem super organized and always meet or exceed deadlines are not genies or part of the Marvel Team. They just possess better time management skills.

Now that’s a downer (wah-wah), some of you are thinking. Time management is for businesspeople.

Aren’t you planning on selling your writing, or perhaps you are paid for your work? Isn’t that business too? Don’t undersell or underestimate your career or your goals. And everyone can stand a little more organization in his or her life.

Writers must be concerned with two major things to be successful: writing time and keeping track of appointments (and ideas, “to-do” lists, etc.).

Writing Time
You may have heard this before, but it is worth repeating that every writer must block out time to write, if possible, daily. Make it part of your routine even if you have a day job or you are a student or a parent. It will help if you put the time in your calendar as an actual appointment.

Some tips on blocking off writing time:

1.    Chose a reasonable time that works for you, and don’t be overly zealous. The last thing you want is to fail to retain a strict schedule. You want to remain positive, not to give up.
2.    Make it the same or similar time every day if possible, depending on your other demands.
3.    Be strict with yourself. If you aren’t, no one else will be (except for editors or publishers who will be more demanding, so this is good practice).
4.    Break down your writing tasks into manageable segments, or various writing categories (article for XYZ Magazine, short story about cats) for different times.
5.    Stick to and practice the routine. It is essential for your brain and body to become accustomed to a pattern, especially if your writing is not paid employment, and you may be tempted to do other things instead.

Ideas, To-Do Lists and Calendar Entries

Writers get ideas…constantly…so jotting them down in a central place is a good practice. I email myself notes or make memos or “note pad” entries that also can be saved or emailed.

I treat my to-do lists as calendar appointments as they are activities as well. This helps organize things for me so I only have one place to check.

Every professional must maintain a schedule, whether it is self-imposed or inflexible. In today’s world, scheduling tool choices are varied: calendar, phone, tablet, computer, etc.

Bottom line: No one can remember everything. So use the tools at your disposal to increase your organizational power and productivity.

Some tips on managing your calendar:

1.    Write everything down.
2.    Record reminders and appointments as soon as possible.
3.    Set alarms to go off at an appropriate time (ahead of time if travel or preparation are needed. If using a paper calendar, set an alarm anyway).
4.    Check your calendar several times a day. Update your calendar as soon as you receive changes.
5.    Remember to bring your calendar with you wherever you go.
6.    Ask for advice if you are disorganized.
7.    If you happen to be unavailable (emergency, surgery, etc.), perhaps someone can help you with your calendar updates.
8.    Write things down even when on vacation.
9.    Use the method that works best for you, consistently. Don’t use your phone if you hate it. There is nothing wrong with using an old-fashioned book.

Spread the word. Teach your friends and children good time management.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!


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About the Author: Paula Chapman

Paula Chapman is a freelance writer/editor, blogger and writing instructor who began her career as a junior editor at Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York City. She also was a reporter, columnist, technical writer and ghostwriter for educational/business "how to" volumes for the Learning Annex and Keith Harrington, inventor, in NYC.
Paula has written and published two books, “Vacation and The Supplier”. She has penned a three-part police suspense novel series, “The End of September”, a quotations book and numerous short stories, comedy routines, lyrics and a TV sitcom script.
Chapman just completed another novel, “Harley's Eclipse”, which she hopes to have traditionally published.
Paula holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees along with writing certifications.
She enjoys photography, music, fitness, hiking, camping and travel. 
Paula is from Manhattan's Greenwich Village but has spent over 30 years in central New York, now with her husband, two children and their handsome Labradoodle, Jimmy.