Keep it simple, stupid!
Rilke, in one of his famous letters to a novice poet, encourages the young man to ask himself in the quiet of the night: “Must I write?”
Rilke’s suggestions for anyone who answers Yes: “Then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.”
If you find you have sufficient time to write, revise, edit, and promote your work, wow! You’re a rare and lucky person. If not, here are 3 common-sense time management tips worth hearing again:
Are you playing softball on Tuesday and Thursday nights? Getting drinks with friends on Friday and Saturday? Watching re-runs of 30 Rock on Sunday? Stop! List your goals and passions on a piece of paper. Realistically, you probably only have time in your life for one or two of them. Cut the rest out. I don’t suggest you give up your health, though. So be sure to find time to eat right and exercise.
2. Carve out YOUR time
Let’s assume you’re not like Rilke, and abandoning your spouse and child is out of the question. How do most writers find time to write? They carve out a space in their day that is theirs and theirs alone. Shut out all other responsibilities and obligations. Turn the phone and internet off. Sit down and write.
If you have children and a partner, have a discussion about how your needs as a writer work with or against your family’s needs. Compromise. Then be ruthless about protecting the space you’ve agreed is yours. Stick to the schedule. Is it an hour each morning? 5 hours on the weekends? Whatever works, stick to it every single week. If you yield up any of your time, it’ll become habit. So don’t give an inch! (Unless, of course, it’s an emergency.)
3. Set short, medium, and long term goals
Goals help you stay focused. Focus helps you stay productive. Productivity helps you feel accomplished. A sense of accomplishment makes you want to keep writing. I recommend setting weekly, 1-month, 6-month, 1 year, and 5 year goals. Balance goals that have to do with your writing, style, craft, and output with goals having to do with your writing career, networking, and promotional opportunities.
Do you have time management guidelines that help you in your writing life? What works? Let us know in the comments section below.