Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Great Advice on Time Management for Writers

I've subscribed for some time to an online e-zine from Randy Ingermanson. Here's his thoughts on how writers find time for their projects. If you want to subscribe to his e-zine, see the links below.

When I started writing fiction years ago, I read an estimate that a novelist needs to spend 2000 hours learning the craft of fiction writing in order to get published. I thought that was excessive. I figured a smart guy could learn to write a novel in a few hundred hours. Maybe I'm just not all that smart, but it wound up taking me quite a bit more than 2000 hours of writing to get my first novel accepted by a publisher and on the shelves of bookstores.

Even though I wildly underestimated the amount of time it would take, I always knew it wasn't something you do in a weekend, so I made a point early in my writing life to find ways to spend more time writing. I believe that if you're a serious writer, you need to
be writing at least 10 to 20 hours per week. Why? Because when you finally sell your manuscript to a publisher, they're going to expect you to polish your novel within a few months. And then they'll expect you to do a second novel soon after that. And then a third, and a fourth . . .

That level of effort is easily going to cost you 20 hours every week for the rest of your writing life. Easily. If you're not already writing at least 10 hours per week by that time, you just plain won't be able to gear up quickly enough to meet those demands from your publisher. You don't have to start out writing 10 hours per week when you first begin writing fiction, of course. Hardly anybody can do that. I recommend that you work up to the level of writing about 5 hours per week by the end of your first year of serious writing. And yes, it may take you a full year just to get up to that level. Once you're writing 5 hours per week, you can then ramp up over the next year or two to writing at that magic level of 10 hours per week. How do you do that? How do you find that kind of time when you're probably already overwhelmed by all the other things you're doing in life? It's not easy. It's going to call for you to make some hard decisions on what's most important to you.

We're all juggling a lot of different things in our lives. I am. You are. That's just how things are. Think about all the things on your plate. You probably have 10 or 15 that are important. Maybe more. You've got 168 hours in every week, and you're awake for at least 110 of those. That's a lot of hours. How do you fill up those hours? Is it possible that you could live your life with one less thing on your plate? If you've never tracked your time, this might be an enlightening exercise. Keep a daily log of where your time goes over the course of a full week. Keep a record of anything that takes longer than about 5 minutes. Lump together things that take less time than that. You may be amazed at what you spend your time on.

Now it's time to get serious. Every three months, ask yourself if there's one less thing you could do. One thing you could shove off your plate that would gain you at least an hour per week in writing time. Maybe it's an "essential" TV show that really isn't all that important. Maybe it's time spent browsing the web, fooling around on Facebook, texting, Skyping, tweeting, or whatever your favorite way is to chitchat electronically. Can you carve out an hour from that?
Every three months, can you find one less thing that "must" be done? Something that's really not essential? Something you can offload to somebody else? Can you take that time and use it for your writing? One less thing, every three months. If that one less thing buys you an extra hour per week of writing time, then in a year, you'll be writing at least four hours per week.

In two years, you'll have an extra eight hours per week to devote to your writing. In three years, you'll have twelve hours a week. This is not easy. At first, that "one less thing" won't
cost you much. But as the months go by, each "one less thing" is going to sting more and more.

Life is full of sacrifices. If you want to write a novel, you have to give up something else that you like doing. You have to give up lots of somethings. You can get there. One less thing at a time.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the
Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing
E-zine, with more than 25,000 readers, every month. If
you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction,
AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND
have FUN doing it, visit

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing
and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.


Randy Ingermanson
Publisher, Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine


Randy Ingermanson
President and CEO of Ingermanson Communications, Inc.
2210 W. Main St., Suite 107, Box 103
Battle Ground, WA 98604