What Writers Need to Know About Time Management

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What Writers Need to Know About Time Management

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to evaluate your time management—especially in terms of your writing. It’s easy to let writing slip to a low priority on your to-do list but we’re here today with tips to help you be successful—whether it’s January 1 or May 23rd.

Use a Writer’s Notebook or Planner

Time Management for WritersWe’re big fans of using a writer’s notebook or planner. Planners are readily available online and in retail stores and are a great way to begin to manage your writing time more effectively.

It’s a sure bet that there are many types available at stores near you or online—and many will be on sale since the year has already started. You can also look for a good template online and either print one out or save it to use on your computer. Even in our high-tech world, it still seems preferable to use a handwritten planner, but whatever works best for you is the way to go.

Just get your hands on a planner!

Making Time to Write

This new planner is where you will schedule your writing time for the week ahead, and weekly planning is a must-do. No matter how busy you may be in your personal and work life, if you truly want to be a writer you will need to find time to spend exclusively on your craft. If you don’t schedule it, it’s likely you won’t ever find time during the week to write.

To allot your time for the week ahead, look at each day and consider where you can find a half hour or 45 minutes (or best, an hour or more) to devote to writing. “Devote to writing” may mean that you are reading a lesson within your writing course, drafting out an assignment or a manuscript you are creating for yourself, reviewing and revising something you already wrote, jotting down ideas for the future, or proofreading a story or article that you are planning to submit soon. Anything that has to do with writing can be done during the scheduled time (and beyond that time if you can).

Time Management for Writers CANVA - Planning calendarFinding these chunks of time to write may mean waking up earlier in the day than you are accustomed to, staying up later into the evening than usual, or writing during your lunch break at your job or home. Those writers who are home with young children may end up using their child’s nap time to write, for example, if they are not able to find another block of time within the day.

Of course, you won’t want to compromise your own sleep schedule as you try to squeeze in writing time, because it’s important to ensure that you are getting an adequate amount of rest. Instead, look for places within your day to slip in even short blocks of time.

You may find that sitting down on a Sunday (or another day that works for you) and creating your writing schedule works well for planning the week ahead. In a seven-day week, schedule your writing time for at least five days if you are determined to move your career ahead.

Remember that your writing is only as important as you make it. Treat your scheduled time seriously and those around you will too.

Word Count Target

Rather than scheduling actual time blocks to write, some writers like to commit themselves to a daily word count for their writing. They find snippets of time throughout their day and strive to complete the 750- or 1,000-words that were their goal. If you are more comfortable setting up a word count target, do it. Write down in your planner the goal number of words for each day in the week ahead and challenge yourself to meet that goal.

Marketing Day

Think about scheduling a “marketing day” on your planner every three weeks or so, where all you do is investigate markets and make notes about good possibilities for your manuscripts. Spend your marketing time reading back issues of magazines, studying publishers’ book lists, reading through markets’ submission guidelines, and seeking out good places to send your work. You should come away from your market research day with a fine accumulation of notes and newfound motivation to submit your work.

Time Management for Writers CANVA I have a plan notebookWe will discuss researching markets a bit more in our next blog post.


As Stephen King wrote in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000): “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut… If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”

Make regular trips to the library part of your life (if they are not already). If you would rather purchase books, listen to them on audiobook, or read on your e-reader, that works well too. Do what works best for you.

Adding time for reading may mean not doing much else in your free time (like watching television, paying attention to social media, viewing YouTube videos, or foregoing other hobbies) but only you know what will work for you and what your writing dream is all about.

It is a lot of work to become a writer. Reward yourself at the end of the week after you have successfully met your writing goals and gotten involved with a good book. Use anything that makes you happy as your reward—you deserve it.


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Susan Ludwig, MA has been an instructor with the Institute of Children’s Literature for almost twenty years. Susan’s writing credits include teacher resource guides, English language learner books, and classroom curriculum for elementary through high school students. A former magazine editor, she assesses students’ written essays as a scoring director for the ACT and SAT exam. When she is not writing or working, she is usually found playing with her grandsons or curled up with a good book.





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