I’ve apparently made it my life’s mission to tell aspiring writers, “Yes, you DO have time to write.” In fact time management for writers is so important to me that it was the title of our very first podcast, and also one of the first posts on this site.
So why do I care so much about finding time to write? Because according to my non-scientific poll, “not having enough time” is the number one reason people don’t follow their writing dreams.
I’m forty years old (stress the old part) and I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who have told me they wished they had started writing at my age. Likewise, at the RMFW conference I talked to several writers in their twenties and thirties and said the same thing to them.
But this isn’t so much of a “how to find time to write” post. We already know how to do that. We make the time by giving up things that are less important. No, this is more of a how to find balance in your life, and you’re writing life post.
See, it’s not just about making time. And it’s not just about finding a balance between your life, your family, and your day job. It’s also about finding proper balance between the several different hats you wear as a writer, in order to use your “writing time” more efficiently.
What do you mean, “several different hats”? I write stuff. Isn’t that enough?
To which I say no. Simply “writing stuff” isn’t enough. Let me clarify. It is enough if your goal is to simply write for fun, to write for yourself or a group of friends.
But if you’re goal is to write professionally, then for better or worse, you’ll be spending a lot of your writing time doing all sort of things that are not actually writing.
Let’s see…ignoring all of the social media stuff that I covered yesterday, there are some many “business of writing” things you need to do.
Here are just a few off the top of my head:
- Query letters. If you want to traditionally publish your novel, you’ll be querying agents and editors.
- Short story submissions. You might not be writing short stories, but you should be 🙂 And finding a place to send them isn’t always easy.
- Email correspondences. You might have fans. You might have colleagues. You might have group membership lists to keep current on. Either way, expect to spend at least a little bit of time catching up on your email.
- Book signing and conferences. This stuff might not happen all the time, but when it does, don’t expect to get a lot of writing done on those weekends, especially if travel is involved.
So, like I said, that’s just a very partial list. Professional writing involves so much more than writing, so you better be prepared for it.
But how? Well, you have to use my word of the day, which is prioritize. What is the most important thing you’re working on right now? If it’s that next novel, then you might need to use that daily minimum word count goal thing and write until you hit that before doing anything else.
If promoting your current novel is the goal, then get all of your promotion-related things out of the way first.
You get the point.
One word of advice, though. If you put too much focus on any singular aspect of your writing career, the other parts will suffer. Take me for example. I want to continue to growing this blog. But if I spend too much time working on it alone, my real writing (this fiction part) will get left behind and then what’s the point of even having this blog, right?
I’d like to give a little better strategy here, but I think it’s all subjective. I try to look at things on a month-by-month basis. I ask myself: What’s my biggest writing priority this month? and then work toward that goal every day, but there’s a catch. I do my best to limit the time I spend each day working on that goal to 50% of my writing time.
We’ll see how that works for a month or two and if I need to adjust that percentage, it’s fine. After all, it’s all about finding the right balance.
We’ll be back with another podcast tomorrow, so check back then, and thanks for reading.
In the meantime, what is your proper balance between writing and business of writing? Or between writing and the day job? Or between writing and real life? Leave a comment and let us know 🙂