Time Management and Writing
Are your time issues blocking you from having success as a writer?
A writing student came to me with a dilemma. She had a book contract, and the summer off to write it, and she was terrified that she wouldn’t be able to do it. She has struggled all her life with time. She procrastinates, gets focused on small details and neglects the bigger picture, and she hides out in research without writing. To top it off, she was intimidated by the sheer size of the project. Sure, she’d written articles, but a whole book! She wasn’t sure she could do it. She knew I was a time management coach as well, so she came to me for advice.
Many of my writing students find that improving their relationship to time is a key piece in improving their writing in general. This can be as simple as finding a regular time each week in which to show up and write. Or it can mean taking a deeper look at what is so frightening about focusing deeply on the one thing that matters most to you.
Whatever the issues writers have around time, the solutions are always the same. It’s a matter of paying attention. Begin to take action toward the writing project, and then notice what occurs. If you find you start to do the dishes or clean out the garage instead of showing up as you’d planned, to write, there might be an issue there. Recommitting to the time, and showing up in the time even if it’s uncomfortable, is the place to start.
Interestingly, what can be most helpful at first is not to go deep into the psychology of why you act this way, but to put habits and helpful things in place to change the behavior, first. Building on the smallest changes can ultimately make the biggest difference.
When you have an actual deadline, and work to complete, it can be easier to focus. Even procrastinators tend to pay attention when a deadline is involved. What I help people do in my time management classes is get a more realistic sense of how long things take, so that that moment of panicked inspiration occurs sooner, and more often.
A timeline is the most helpful tool I’ve seen to get your book completed by a deadline. Even if it seems obvious, if you’re having trouble, you’re probably not doing this. It can help to actually mark things on the calendar, and get clear about certain completion points.
The simple act of outlining your time, showing up to write when you say you will (no matter how uncomfortable or “unproductive” you may feel), and checking off every time you’ve met that commitment, will do wonders. You’re going to be pleasantly surprised by how your book comes into being, when you put this tool to use.