This post is part of Alex Cavanaughs, The Insecure Writers Support Group. I was initially going to moan about how much I have to do with November being the month of NaNoWriMo (If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, see This post) and how on Earth was I going to achieve it all as I’m still finalising my first crime manuscript to send back out into the world for query. Then I realised that I actually do achieve quite a lot considering I work full time in a demanding career, have a family, have joined a book club, am finalising one book, starting another and reading books in research of the NaNoWriMo novel. So how do I do it? Lets have a look.
1. You have a smart phone. Be smart with it. Twitter and Facebook are real time sucks for writers, so how I use them are from my phone only. In a morning when I’m drinking my tea before heading out to work I check in with both Twitter and Facebook. While I’m grabbing a bite to eat at work, I may stick my head in and then again for 10 minutes in an evening while I’m sitting down on the sofa having a minute. Rarely do I access them from my laptop. My laptop is where I write and create blog posts. Social media I can do on the move.
2. Bring the kids into what you do. I spend a lot more quality time with my youngest child now that we sit and read on my bed together. He loves it and is reading so much more than he ever was when he thought it was just a chore, but now he sees it as something we go off on our own to do. He benefits, I get some reading done and we have quality time every day.
3. Give up the rubbish on TV that you know you don’t need and won’t miss. I know this feels like a ridiculously hard one. I’m not saying give up TV. I love watching TV. For writers it’s a great source of idea’s and examples of how stories and plots are put together well. I watch a lot of drama’s. Mostly crime. Some others. What I don’t watch, are soaps – massive time suck, and real life competition stuff – you know the ones (Ok, I do watch Dancing on Ice, but that’s once a year and it’s the only one.) Having given up the rest, I can tell you, once you do, you really don’t miss them and you have hours of time spare.
4. Don’t be dictated to by the television set. I know this is another TV one, but I do think in a lot of homes, it’s how we tend to spend time with our families, especially in winter evenings and writing doesn’t have to be at the expense of family. If you have the ability to record your programmes, what I do is record everything I watch, then watch them at a time that suits us and fast forward through breaks, therefore making them shorter. I’m not being told that I have to be sat down by 8pm or I miss something drastic.
5. If you really can’t write today – don’t. I’m sorry, I know routine is important and writing every day is advocated, but you work hard, life gets in the way, things happen. Don’t stress. It doesn’t help the creative flow. It will completely screw with it and when you do sit down a big ball of knottiness will find itself on the screen. Do something nice for yourself this day. It’s okay. Seriously. You can still be a writer and have a day off.
These five points may or may not work for you, but some could be worth considering. They work for me and it’s what helps me get through everything I need and want to do. I hope even one could be an idea you could run with.
What helps you manage your time and fitting writing in to your day?
Vikki (The View Outside) says
Great tips Rebecca!
Annalisa Crawford says
#1 and 2 are really great. I do use my smart phone for Facebook and Twitter, but I never thought to make it exclusive. I struggle to get my kids to think of reading as fun, so I love the idea of snuggling up together to read independently. I have no tips in return, because I have no time management skills at all!
Cynthia Reed says
Well done, Rebecca, excellent list. My tip/discovery? I’ve discovered (and committed to) that I have to be fanatical about my highest priority (my novel). I edit a magazine for a non-profit, as a volunteer, and find that I will completely sucked into that project if I am not very, very careful. It is a real time sink for a number of reasons. So, for NaNoWriMo this month. I made a rule: no magazine till my daily NaNo 1,667+ words were done. It made me see now easily I slipped away from my most important project. Now I won’t. The magazine has to slip instead, which has also taught me to push back on the other volunteers who cause the problems in the first place. But that’s fair. And I hope they learn or I will resign from my role as Editor. It’s been a real education, enforcing my rule. And I’ll add a couple of yours, too, especially the social media idea. A good one!
Reblogged this on Born in the change.
Margot Kinberg says
Rebecca – Oh, these are terrific ideas! It’s so important to just focus on writing – that’s all – when one writes. I couldn’t agree more about that. And yes, bringing the family into it helps everyone to understand what it is to write and why the reader sometimes need to be left alone to… write. If I may add, using modern technology to capture ideas helps too. If I’m not home but get a really good idea, I can record it on my ‘phone and get to it later. No need to scrabble desperately for that note I scribbled for myself…
Elle Turner says
Great advice, Rebecca. I thought I’d find it difficult to give up some TV, but I didn’t. And, blimey, it does sound like you have a lot on the go! Hope NaNo is going well xx
Alex J. Cavanaugh says
Those are good tips. I’ve learned it’s easier for me to watch shows on my own time, so I tend to watch them at work on the Internet or just get the whole season through NetFlix. (And also watch at work. Yes, my job rocks.) When I’m writing or editing, I have a set amount of time to do it in the evening and I don’t waver from that no matter what.
LM Milford says
Hi Rebecca, great post! I really wish I could give up on television because it really is the biggest drain on my time and energy. At present, I’m trying to finish my second novel, squeezed in around a busy/stressful full time job and usually the only writing time I can find is during my 30 minute train commute into London. Not an ideal scenario I know! I’d much prefer to write at home, but I’m exhausted by the time I get home and then spend the evening watching TV. I think it’s a case of breaking a habit, so wish me luck with that one!
Stacey Mitchell says
Great tips, Rebecca. I never watch any tv shows “live”, I record everything I watch — it saves so much time. I hadn’t thought of just using social media through my phone, so I’ll definitely be trying that!
DJ Kirkby says
I am going to take tip number one and make it my own too. Thanks for that….
Joanna (Lazuli Portals Trilogy) says
I love tips 3, 4 and 5, and use them already – but a reminder can sometimes keep me on track, so thanks!
No kids in this household, although I often have a cat plunked on my lap, preventing me from reaching the keyboard!
I can see the reasoning behind your 1st tip, too, but don’t have a smartphone that copes well with social media. (YET, she says….. YET! Perhaps this is a reason to get one lol)
I still think you’re amazing for dealing with work, writing, family and health challenges AND doing Nano on top.
Joanne Phillips says
Great tips, especially the using social media from your phone and not laptop! I’m going to start that one today. 🙂