“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up some place else.” Yogi Berra
Writing is a business. During my years as a business and tax adviser I had various artists as clients. Although, I never had a living author as a client, I would have given a writer the same advice that I would give any business owner. Effective time management is one of the most critical issues you face as a business owner or as a writer. If you break time management down to its simplest form time management is making choices. To make effective choices as a writer you must first decide what it is you want—the big picture—why you want it; and how you will achieve it. Then you must stay focused on your goal.
The big goal for example might be:
The What: I will write a book in 2013, or, I will enter 26 writing contests in 2013.
The Why: I have a story to tell; a message to send; or a life I want to share.
The How: I write daily.
The above example is a relatively long-term goal. To accomplish it you must break it down into fistfuls. Something you can handle one day at a time. The “how” in the long-term goal should lead you to your immediate or short-term approach to accomplishing what you want to accomplish.
For example, the How can I write daily, might be approached by answering the same three questions:
What: I write 1,000 words a day, or I write from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily.
Why: If I write 1,000 words a day I will complete my first draft in three months.
How: I disconnect my internet service from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., or I allow the answering machine to take all calls while I am writing.
Your writing goal, like any goal, requires that you perceive some type of benefit from the required behavior. Identify your perceived benefit. Write it down with your goals. Examples of perceived benefits might be possible financial payment; or perhaps the primary perceived benefit will be personal accomplishment. Despite the fact that you are repeatedly told that you should write just for the love of writing, as a writer each of you has your own reason for writing and therefore your own perceived benefit.
Construction contractors and engineers use complex diagrams to plan a project. They keep the plan posted where it is visible. This gives them momentum to keep their project moving forward. It also helps them identify what needs to be completed to proceed or if adjustments need to be made to the schedule.
Although most writing does not require a schedule as complicated as one that a construction contractor might use, some of your complex works might benefit from one. As a busy writer you will benefit from some type of plan. It will help you see what you need to do next, especially when research is involved or if you have approaching deadlines. A simple timeline or calendar may be all that you need. But make certain that you pair expected results as well as expected benefits on the plan and post it where you see it daily.
As the publishing industry continues to change, and as writers are required to maintain platforms and be more involved in marketing, as well as editing, rewriting and in some cases publishing, the ability to make good choices regarding the use of your time becomes critical to your success.
Once you figure out how you will control your time, you can move on and figure out how you will maintain a vacant desk top so that you can write. Time management is only the first step towards being organized to write.
(Written for Three Word Wednesday: focused; pair; vacant.