Writing while working, adulting, caring for tiny humans, and running a household often means jotting down sentences between appointments, lunch hours, school pickups, or after the kids are in bed. You know, that one part of the day you have to yourself when all you want to do is to binge watch the latest season of Orange Is The New Black and fall into a chocolate coma.
Instead, you dedicate those precious breaks to writing. But thanks to busy lives and social media, best-laid plans to craft words often gets pushed to the side. When that happens, getting creative with how you organize your writing time can mean adding to your word count rather than chasing it.
1) Make Scheduling Your Friend
Not only do you write, nowadays you also have to tweet about. Creating and maintaining a social media presence is important when you’re selling books or working toward that dream. But if there’s no organization, you’ll find yourself moaning on Facebook about your low word count because you were too caught up checking Facebook to scribble down more than a paragraph.
One way around this is to schedule some or all of your posts, keeping you active on social media but also away from social media so you’re free to write.
- Share It. Instagram, Facebook, WordPress and Twitter all share to each other, so once you post through one, you can automatically send it to the others without having to visit each platform separately.
- Schedule It. Facebook has a schedule feature so you can post your content or share favorite blogs when you’re not in reach of your phone or computer. You can even use specific apps like Hootsuite or Buffer to share posts when it suits you (yes, even while you’re in that chocolate coma!).
Another thing to schedule is your writing time. Although I’ve failed to add regular exercise as a non-negotiable appointment to my day, I do ensure that I write, even if it’s only for ten minutes.
2) Work To A Plan
If you’re going to be scheduling things, it’s much easier when you know what you’re doing. Planning what you’ll write or post each week makes it a cinch to start working as soon as you sit at your keyboard.
- Keep It Light. Either plan for the day ahead or the whole week, but that’s it. Restricting your plans to a short time frame means you’ll spend fewer minutes planning and even less time feeling overwhelmed.
- Small Details. Note down your tasks in simple terms you can read at a glance. “Write a new blog post” or “edit chapters 10-13″ is all it takes.
Having a solid plan, even a basic one, helps you gain control of your time and use spare minutes to their full advantage, working on what you need to, instead of working out what you have to do.
3) Beat The Clock
Time is a tricky thing. It can make you think you have all day to get something done but slip by so fast you make no progress at all. If you constantly find yourself getting distracted when you write, then a timer may help.
- Use The Pomodoro Technique. I’ve talked about this here. It’s setting a timer and writing for twenty-five minutes straight before having a break for five.
- Keep On Track. While using a timer prompts you to get out of your chair, it can also lead to twenty-five minutes of work and then an hour of “internetting”. Use this tip from Madeline Bartson’s awesome blog post and make your break an activity away from the screen.
Some writers might balk at stopping and starting when you write, but if you find yourself in the flow of things, just keep going. One thing I love about the Pomodoro Technique is it forces me to focus and start my task, and that’s what you want.
4) Blast Small Tasks In Bulk
A great way to write more is setting aside one day to bulk blast the small tasks that would otherwise steal portions of your daily time. Once a month I will sit at my computer with a TV show playing in the background (Friends, Seinfeld, or The Big Bang Theory) and…
- Put together four weeks worth of graphics for Instagram (I use Canva).
- Backup. My computer does automatically backup certain folders, but I’m prone to saving drafts to my desktop so I regularly check that I’ve saved everything properly and/or moved it to the right place.
- Source and size blog images (I use Pixabay).
- Transfer notes made on my phone for blogs posts, story ideas, or lines of dialogue for my WIP, and add them to their respective Scrivener files.
- See what I’ve bookmarked as read later/share and decide what I want to schedule for upcoming posts.
- Revise the long goals. This is when I look at what I planned in January to achieve by June that I have to move to December because I’m still not ready/able.
5) Time Out To Avoid Burn Out
Now I know the point of these tips is to help you write more, but you can’t do that if you’re burnt out.
Trying to write or stay part of the writing community every spare second is exhausting. Just as the weekend gives a break from work-week stress, you need a time out from writing too.
- Keep your weekends free for family or social activities.
- Don’t post to social media on Sundays.
- If you write full-time during the week, take a regular afternoon off to walk or grab a tea/coffee/hot chocolate at a local cafe.
- Don’t work past 3 pm.
- Put your phone away at 8 pm every night.
Or do whatever works for you to be able to step away from writing-related activities for a portion of your week. While it might be your goal to live and breathe this whole writing life, it’s also a major stress. Once it becomes a chore, that’s when most writers give up. Keep yourself organized and allow yourself a break when you need it. That way, when you have the time, you’re always ready to write.
— K.M. Allan