Finding Time

Writing is a career, but it is also a way of life. To be successful, we have to incorporate writing into our daily schedule, instead of always waiting for the
perfect moment.

If you think you are too busy to write, make a list of everything you do in a day. If you are at work from 8am to 5pm, maybe you could write during your lunch break. Stay at home parents can sneak in some writing when the kids are napping.

Take control of your life by creating a yearly plan for your writing career. If finding time is a struggle, check your schedule and look for snippets of time you could use for writing. Get up one hour earlier than usual. Go to bed an hour later. Think of activities (like TV) which you could eliminate.

Stop making excuses. Just begin your work.

Every novel starts with the first sentence. Even if you can only write for 30 minutes a day, make it your goal to do it every day. Gradually, you will extend those 30 minutes to an hour. There is never going to be a better time than right now, starting today.

Start writing the novel you’ve been dreaming about. Decide on one article idea and start researching the topic; start writing a draft. Just begin.

I had to sneak writing into my busy life. I take care of my disabled husband and two active teenagers. Household chores take up a chunk of time. Most days I have to consciously decide to sit down at my computer and write.

I used to push myself to churn out tons of articles, stories, essays and poems. I don’t regret my drive, but now I am enjoying a more focused pace. It is not about writing more, but about writing better. I don’t spin my wheels anymore. Now my goals concentrate on writing and submitting something to editors and publishers every week.

Setting Goals

Step 1: Decide on a realistic goal for your writing. Don’t check email until your writing is done.

Step 2: Set mini-goals which get you closer to your prize. Aim to write 500 words at each sitting.

Step 3: Set a monetary income goal. Choose an actual $ figure for each quarter year.

Step 4: Write down how you’ll reach your target. List the markets you’re writing for. Set monthly writing achievement goals. Make them realistic…

Some writers may say money is not important. I disagree. Your plumber is not going to say, “You don’t need to pay me. I just do this for fun.”

Use earned income as a measure of your writing progress. (You can always give money away to charity.)

Using money earned as a guide, you can see how far you have come in your writing career. It also prods you to seek higher paying assignments or markets you haven’t yet reached.

Continue to spruce up your writing. Look for extra courses. No matter what genre you write in, you can always learn more and become better.

The business end of your writing needs organising

This is important if writing is your business. Track submissions, payments, publications and tax payments. Create a system that works for you. I use a simple system of file folders, online cloud systems and memory sticks. When I write each new article, I record the word count, the date I wrote it, and where it is saved. After letting it rest for a day, I go back and revise it. Every time I submit an article, I write the place I sent it to, plus information like payment, response times, the editor’s name. I also keep the same information in a Master Record. That way, I have a record of where the article has been. When I receive an acceptance or a rejection, I mark it in my master record. Another way to organise is to group types of writing into folders. If you write in various genres or subjects, this is an easy way to keep track of your submissions. Remember to always back up your work.

Making a Plan

It’s great to make goals, but to accomplish them you need a plan to reach them. Once you’ve decided on your main goal, write it down. Make it as specific as possible. Just saying you want to write a book someday is too vague. Planning to have a book manuscript completed, revised and submitted to a publisher by December 31st is a specific goal.

Break targets into monthly or weekly goals

To finish a book in a year, how many chapters or pages will you have to write each week? Set a timetable that works for you, and fits into your life schedule. The more realistic you make your plan, the easier it will be to accomplish each step of the way. Plans are great, but sometimes things happen to throw them off track. List some of the distractions that might derail your plan (and how to overcome them). If you’ve made goals and plans in the past and they didn’t eventuate, look for the specific reasons. Maybe you didn’t see quick results and you gave up. Perhaps your goal was too big and too hard. Or the steps weren’t broken into mini-steps.

Figure out ways to revise your new plan – because inflexible plans fail. If you prepare ahead of time for setbacks, difficulties, time delays etc you can be flexible and still accomplish your goals. Now when the computer breaks or the family is sick, you’ll be ready with Plan B.

Reward yourself for achieving the mini steps

Have a night out at your favourite restaurant. Celebrate when one of your stories or articles is accepted.
Pat yourself on the back. Tell your achievement in the Student Forum. Share your good news with friends and family. A little good news is an excellent motivator for weeks or even months thereafter.

Getting moral support for your goals is another important tool in creating a workable plan. Make use of a writing buddy, online writers chat room or a local writer’s club. These will help you stay connected to other writers —who can cheer you up when you get a rejection, celebrate when your book proposal is accepted or offer helpful critiques when you’re working on your current tasks.

Writing is a privilege, a joy and a way to connect with others. It can also be a fulfilling and financially rewarding career. Meld the two together into a plan, and you’ll have your most successful year yet.


-Shaunna Privratsky. Reproduced for educational purposes. (abridged).