2015-10-18

Self Publishing: Time Management

Upgrade Status
I am making good progress on upgrading Chroniech to a more professional looking novel. The editing is moving along and I'm fixing little problems here and there. Following that, I will make a formatting pass for Kindle and then another for CreateSpace. I've also found a new possible cover for Peacekeeper 2 that is more in line with the other covers for the series. I need to see if it will work and then I need to get permission from the person who took the picture before I can use it. The problem is he's in space right now.

Time Management For Writers
All writers have this problem, especially if you are married and (as most of us do) hold down a day job: How do you find the time to write? Just look at all the things a writer has to balance in his or her life:

  • Spending time with your spouse (failure to do so can result in your becoming single).
  • Working your day job.
  • Doing all the little things around the house that must be done.
  • Watching your favorite television show.
  • Reading.
  • Blogging.
  • Social networking.
  • Eating.
  • Sleeping (something I wish I could eliminate).
  • Spending time or staying in touch with family.
  • And, as it often seems, last -- writing.
The problem is -- there's no secret formula that works for everyone. Each person's solution to this problem is going to be different. The trick is to sit down and create a plan that works for you and then stick with it. Getting your spouse involved will go a long way toward making sure your plan works. There are only so many hours in a day and the secret to finding time to write comes down to a single word: Sacrifice.

There've been writers who've written a best-selling novel 15 minutes at a time during their lunch breaks. These people sacrificed interacting with their fellow workers during lunch for time to write. Others get up an hour early and write before work - sleep sacrifice. You can also find time on the opposite end by staying up an hour later than normal. Instead of watching a television program, some people write. The biggest sacrifice of all is when you decide to quit your day job so you can write all day long. If you wait until you retire, then you're sacrificing time in another manner -- time spent working on your book before retirement.

Jamie Todd Rubin is a prolific writer I met in 2013 while attending Launch Pad. He uses a hand-crafted writing tracking tool to automatically record his productivity. This helps him because humans are competitive by nature and he's always striving to best his best performance. Tracking your daily word count can drive you to write every day no matter how little time you think you have. Jamie freely shares his writing numbers and techniques with the public and I recommend checking out his website. He also has a few tricks I don't use, such as listening to audio books while he jogs or on the drive to and from work. I use my drive time to listen to NPR news.

So how do I manage my time? My weekends are pretty much the same. I'm a morning person and my wife is a night-owl. I'm typically up before 6:00 AM giving me time to write between then and 9:00 AM or 9:30 AM when she gets up. I could watch some of my recorded television shows, or keep up with social networking, or any one of the other things I need to do. But, typically, I use the time to write. We usually go to Barnes & Noble on Saturdays. If I don't have a writer's meeting to attend, I will sit at the table and write.

Sunday's are usually spend doing household chores or catching up on other things I've sacrificed. One thing I constantly have to remind myself about is that our television shows are recorded and they can wait until I have time to watch them. Eventually, I'll have some time and I can catch up. I will often sacrifice watching a television show for writing. Sunday is also the day my wife and I spend together -- it's 'our' time and we try not to let anything interfere with that.

During the week, I have to be a bit more flexible. I'm up at 4:30 AM and start work at 5:30 AM. I typically don't have any free time at all during work unless my two computers are tied up running code. That's my time to catch up on Twitter or read a work-related computer book. I also keep at least one book on writing at work. I read this when I have to use the restroom. You can get quite a bit of reading done in 10-minute intervals this way!

I leave work at 1:30 PM and I'm home by 2:00 PM. If my wife is home, we'll usually go for a walk. If she's out with a friend, I choose between catching up on a television show, writing, or other activities. Sometimes, I multitask when possible. Trying to edit while watching Agents of Shield is not a good example but checking Facebook or Twitter is possible. I can also watch TV and do household chores at the same time. I often find myself with 10 or 15 minutes of time when my wife is off doing something and I can use that time to squeeze in a few pages of reading or Twitter.

If you were to follow me around for a few days you would notice that I am never idle. I've been like this since I was a kid. I always had a book in my pocket and I would read at every opportunity. I can't stand to just sit. I must always be doing something. In today's world of tablets, pocket computers, and netbooks, I can always find a few minutes to catch up on something. I've never tried writing on my cell phone, although I know a couple of people who have done so.

My biggest problem is spending enough time with my wife. I've talked to other writers about this and they tend to have the same complaint from their spouses. Writers are driven to write. It's like an obsession. The story is in your head and it's clamoring to get out into the public and the only person who can do that is you. If your spouse works and you don't, then you have the time to satisfy that constant itch. If the roles are reversed, your spouse has all the time and you don't, making time difficult to find. In this instance, talk to your spouse about how you feel. It's best to come to an agreement than to end up in divorce court.

Next week, I'll be talking about the Tools of the Trade. Writers no longer need just a pencil and paper to get their work done. Although that is the bare-bones minimum, technology is pretty much a requirement these days. I'll be listing what I use as well as alternatives used by successful writers I know.