Saturday, April 6, 2013

Timely Tips

God allocates each of us twenty-four hours a day, yet it’s never enough.

Writing may begin small, as a hobby. We love it. We spend any extra hours writing more and more, longer and longer. God puts the longing in our heart to get our written words into circulation where others can read them.

At some point, the hobby changes into a career. We submit our words, and a publisher releases the finished product to the public. We learn that now, we have two jobs; writing and promoting beside any other demands.

Below, find tips to redeem your time.

1. Use a timer for social media.

Start by timing yourself on a normal day. Discover how many hours you spend on all the different types of social media. Don’t discount this. Online promotion is critical to our success. I counted four hours a day that I surfed Facebook, Twitter, two e-mail addresses, and several blogs (mine included.) Some days when I had weekly or monthly obligations on guest blogs, that time swells to five or six hours.

How could I stop? I needed a presence, but I didn’t need an obsession.

A small kitchen timer works magic. I subscribe to a time allowance for each type of social media that adds no more than two hours a day. Now, I have two to four hours more for writing.

2. Use traveling time to plot.

In Texas, crisscrossing a couple hundred miles every other week isn’t unusual. My northeastern friends might ride trains or subways. Some may fly a lot on their day job. However you travel, when you’re not driving, utilize this time.

Bring pen and paper, Notebook or IPAD. Plot your next book. Jot down a chapter by chapter outline. Let your mind run free as the scenery passes your window.

3. Set your alarm five minutes early to brainstorm in bed. 3.

When you first come awake, you’re in never-never-land for a few moments. During that time, think on a plot problem or ask yourself how your character would react to a situation.

During these five minutes, your brain floats into creative mode with ease. You have yet to turn on your editor thoughts. Great progress can be made at this point.

4. First things first.

Most writers claim social networking interrupts their writing more than anything else. My suggestion is write first.

Resist the temptation to see if you have an e-mail answer from someone until you’ve written a set number of words, or until you’ve finished your synopsis, or whatever your goal for the day might be. Do the most important thing on your list first.

Use the social media as a reward. Try interval posting. Write 1K words and congratulate yourself with thirty minutes of surfing the net.

5. Be a list maker.

At night, make a priority list for the following day. Number one for a Christian might be quiet time with God.

Number two, would be WRITE unless life sends you an emergency.

***Note*** a dirty floor isn’t an emergency. A sick child is.

If you work a day job, this formula would still work but could involve waking up earlier, or beginning your list after work.

List promotion goals next.

Then, go to housecleaning, filling out tax forms, paying bills, or whatever your list includes. Prioritize every chore you do.

6. Have a stop time to read.

Stephen King said, If you don't have time to read, you don't have time or tools to write.

Allow for a stop time on your day. Read in the genre you write. Read in genres you never write. Read writing craft books and magazines. Read inspirational books. READ to prepare for your next day.

7. Help me, help me.

Do you have family that could help with housework? Friends that might run an errand for you? Can you simplify meals? Does your hubby know how to mop?

Incorporate your need for exercise by folding laundry with your small children. Break for a long time of sitting at your computer by running the vacuum. Use that creative imagination of yours to solve this riddle.

8. How do I say no?

Plan ahead what you will or will not do. If you’re given no time, tell the asker you need to think about it. Never answer “yes” on the spot.

Plan ahead how you will handle interruptions because they will happen.

Try some or all of these time-management tips. Incorporate suggestions of your own. More than anything, whether you work another job or not, writing must be viewed as a career, not a hobby.


  1. Thanks, Janet. Lots of good strategies. A reminder I needed.

  2. Wow, was this timely for me! I spend far too much time on social media right now in preparation for the release of my debut novel. My current WIP suffers as a result.

  3. I so understand, Collete. We must control it, or it controls us. Thanks, Julia, we all need reminders from time to time or we get overwhelmed again.

  4. Thanks Janet. Great tips and just the kick up the backside I needed about now. I'm feeling rather spoiled about now as my hubby can cook, does laundry, takes the vacuum (or mop) for a walk, and does dishes. And last weekend when I was so sick, looked after me, too.

  5. Thanks for the nudge to shake us out of our obsessions! I love highway driving time to plot. The kids know they can't bother the driver!

  6. Great time management tips, Janet. Number 5, creating a to do list, is an excellent way to stay on course, but it's something I always forget to do. Thanks for the reminders.

    1. Thanks, Karen. That to-do list keeps me on target.

  7. Oh, wow, Melanie, sounds like you have a treasure there. Keep him happy. Now, you're well, you got to get busy again.

  8. Yep, Suzanne, when you drive, it has to be all in your head & no interruptions. With children, that rarely happens unless they sleep. Mmm...

  9. Great tips, I follow most of them. Especially lists, I love my lists. Just have to be careful I don't over do, and spend more time making the myriad of lists. :-)Plotting while traveling reminded me I can use the recorder on my fancy-smancy new phone to list suggestions, or plot the story as I drive.

  10. I love the idea of using a timer for the social media. You'd be surprised how quickly the time goes by! Also, using a list helps me stay organized. Great tips!


  11. I'm very late in reading this, but you have so many good ideas. As your friend, I know you practice what you preach. That is why you have accomplished so much with your writing. You are a great example to the rest of us.