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Your Novel In 13 Weeks, Part 4: How to Find the Time for Writing

Muses Are Notoriously Unreliable

Yes, some writers write an awful lot more than others (the interesting thing is that if you account for hours worked – instead of hours giving lectures on writing, or for that matter playing computer games – the production rate is not that different). Some write on a rigid daily schedule, some set a goal of two hours a day (or a week) and keep to it most of the time. However, no writer anywhere with a career extending more than a couple of a novels writes “when I feel like it.”

This is because “when I feel like it” ends up relegated to the bottom of your to-do list, and even the least busy of us have enough on those to see us through several months or years without time to think if we feel like writing or not.

So, before we start on the “13 weeks that count,” I will give you my rules of time/productivity management. As always, your mileage may vary. However, if you have a plan that says “the muse sits on my shoulder” or, alternately, a plan that says “I will work every hour of the day, unless I collapse with tiredness,” you are unlikely to finish this novel, either in 13 weeks or – frankly – ever.

Rules of Time Management For Authors

1st – Unless you schedule writing in, it will never happen. It will be relegated to that same space as “someday I’ll climb a mountain” or “wouldn’t it be nice to run a marathon.”

Schedule a day a week, an hour a day, five hours a day, but schedule it in. Treat it as you’d treat any job. If you are genuinely too sick to think, go to bed. But don’t say “I’m too sick to think; I’ll go play tennis.” Also, during your writing time, write. I was once on a writer’s list where people told me they couldn’t write as fast as I could because they “valued their product” more. Turned out that while on the list they discussed Warhammer and Sims and other games I only know of through hearsay. I probably produced less than they did per hour, but apparently it wasn’t so much their quality they valued as their play time. So, if you’re going to try to write professionally, turn off the games or use a computer that has no games installed.