Monday, February 7, 2011

Time Management for Writers

Everyone has 365 days a year (give or take a leap year), 7 days in a week, 24 hours in a day...right?  But I think everyone fights the worst with time management.

Within your twenty-four hours, an average of 6-8 hours is spent sleeping.  The body needs this to repair all the damage you did to it in the previous 24-hours.  To make the math simplier let's just say 8 leaving you with 16 hours to do what needs to be done.  

Wait!  Subtract 8 hours for your job and now you have eight full hours left.  EIGHT! That's a whole lot of time, but wait... you have commuting time back and forth to work...possibly an hour on a good day with little traffic.  What do you do during your commute time?  Remember we are trying to maxmize the 480 minutes a day you have that is not committed to work and sleep.

For me, my commute time is spent in devotion. The way some people drive-- prayer is definitely needed.  Oh no, I'm not talking about the way you drive, but everyone else on the roadway is either an idiot who needs Divine guidance, or a little, gray-haired, old woman who has trouble seeing over the steering wheel...wait I ressemble that remark. Oh, nevermind, you know what I mean.

Other useful driving commute activities: audio foreign language lessons, the lastest novel you've been wanting to read but haven't had the time, lecture notes review for classes you've recorded not written.  I have very strong feelings against text messages and computers while driving.  Those same feelings apply to women putting on make-up, men getting dressed, and other activities which take your hands OFF the steering wheel.  Okay, you've made a selection from the above list or other you have thought of to take care of otherwise wasted communte time.  Your time management skill is on the way up.

So what do you do with the other seven hours?  Well, I gotta eat, you say.  Whether you hit the drive-thru or cook it yourself that's another hour at a minimum so let's say six hours left to your day.  Now everyone has these six hours, or 360 minutes, or 21,600 seconds if you really want to get anal about time management. If you resorted to seconds you have passed your time management test.

Some of us bring work home, some have homework, children, and assorted other duties.  (I won't include laundry in this because you have 30 minutes per load that you can be doing other things)  Let's say two hours have lapsed.  All these other things take time. Tick, tock, the seconds are counting down.

You now have four hours, or 240 minutes left in your original 24-hours.  On average I spent thirty minutes catching up on world and local events courtesy of the internet, so I'll subtract that. Another thirty minutes, checking out blogs, writer communities, and emails, so I'll subtract that.  Three hours left.

Now, you want to be an author/writer/journalist in your lifetime.  So now you have three hours, or 180 minutes left in your day. You spend an hour in research.  Two hours left. You are a part-time writer so you spend at least an hour in front of your computer actually writing.  No distrations, no getting up to get a drink, going to the bathroom, or thinking about what you are going to write. Actually writing/typing. For me, I type 50 words a minute that's 3,000 words on a good day.  At that rate, you could complete a 110,000-word manuscript in 37 days. One hour left of your 24-hour day.  Your last hour is spent in editing. 

As a writer/author/journalist, you will spend equal amounts of time researching your material, editing, and actually creating your novel/article/or whatever you are writing.  So if you spend 37 days in research, 37 days in producing your manuscript, and 37 days in editing your manuscript...at a minimum it is a 111 days or 6,660 minutes in producing one manuscript. I'm a writer not a mathematician... Almost 1/3 of a year...in case you were wondering that's 122 days (rounded up)-- 2,928 hours-- 175,680 minutes and I won't begin calculating with the seconds.  That's if you adhere to a schedule like this.  I hear y'all out there yelling, "Ya right! I've spent over a year so far on mine!"

The only problem is life tends to get in the way.  All those things like someone going to the hospital (I stands up and wave wildly), spouses, grandchildren, children and their spouses, etc.  Friends, telephone calls and cell phone...geez how could I forget that? As writers we are lucky if we can spend three hours a day in writing, if we do not make our living writing books.    Of course, we could chuck it all out the window and only write on weekends, but where is the challenge in that? So how do you use the three hours a day of writing? I've spent an hour writing and tweaking this blog, so now I have to choose between writing or editing.  Whatever you choose to do make it worthwhile.

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