Time Management in Writing

Does this sound boring to you?  Probably, but it’s likely the most important obstacle in the way for new writers.  With so many distractions, how does a writer focus on what’s really important – writing?  While there are many answers, I thought I’d offer some personal tips.  Now realize, I came upon most of these thoughts due to practicing poor time management in the first place, so don’t despair if you think you can’t break free from watching your writing time slip down the drain.

 Set Small Goals.  Perfect and timely example, today, while frittering away my time on Twitter, I came across @Charlotte_Abel’s tweet: “ #amwriting for the next hour. #Wordcount goal:  600.”  I thought, why don’t I do just that?  And I did.  And more.  Thing is, it’s okay to exceed small goals, but when we make our goals too unwieldy, we talk ourselves out of even starting.

Set Date Goals.  Many writers have the luxury of working under our own timelines, which can prove detrimental if we’re waiting for that exact moment when we are completely inspired to write.  Writing is hard and takes focus, so sometimes it’s hard to find that inspirational moment.  I suggest if you don’t already have an external deadline, set one.  For example, I want to have the first draft of my current work in progress complete by March 31st when I’m attending an upcoming writing Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators workshop.  Check the calendar, and you may sense my motivation to write this particular post.

Set Aside Dedicated Time.  Now I’m not one to deliberately schedule an exact time to write, so I’d be a hypocrite to call that a personal tip.  Sometimes I like to write in the morning, sometimes the afternoon, sometimes the evening, sometimes the middle of the night.  However, when I do decide it’s time to write, IT IS TIME TO WRITE.  Writing time is not editing time; it’s not research time; it’s writing time.  Write.

Beware the Social Media Vacuum.  I love social media — hey –I already mentioned Twitter, right?  And since writers like to write, social media provides a wonderful platform to do what we like to do.  But unless your writing goals include a certain number of tweets, posts, or comments you’d like to accumulate, social media interaction can consume valuable writing time that could be better spent, well, writing.  Everything in moderation.

Don’t Strive for Perfection.  Good writing takes time, editing, and rewriting.  So if you sit down to write, and obsess over choosing each exact word the first time, you won’t get much done.  Start writing, use whatever word comes out easily, even if you know it’s not the one you want, and go back later to replace it with the right word.  I guarantee this is more efficient than agonizing over each and every word choice.  And funny thing is, sometimes we end up actually liking the word that seemed at the time to be the wrong one.

Many more tips come to mind, but since the topic is time management, I’ll leave it at this.  If anyone else has a tip, and has time to leave one (!), please share.



  1. Thank you, Carol – funny, as I’m writing this, I’m looking at the clock and wondering how I will get all the things done I need to get done before the day ends. 🙂

  2. Useful article ~ and applies to so much in our lives! ~ Carol
    Time Management in Writing:… http://t.co/YXWqXKAq

  3. Valarie,
    As someone who is trying to write a novel having the ‘time’ is an important issue and i would like to thank you for all the advice and tips above which are really useful. Everyone is an indavidual and where as one person may write in a bustling, noisy cafe another indavidual might prefer more quiet and when it comes to time management we all have our own particular way of using it. I have found that when i am busy and have a full schedule of events happening that i seem to have more insentive to get on and write, where as if i am not busy then things are not always as productive.
    Lucinda x

  4. This is a great post on time management!

    When it’s time to write, IT IS TIME TO WRITE. Thank you for reminding me. I’m having a hard time resisting the urge to edit.

    I’ll look for your word count report on Twitter tomorrow. No pressure 😉

  5. Thank you to @scbwi for helping me set my internal deadline for my next book. A blog post on time management http://t.co/dc2owms5