Protect Your Writing Time!

I’m once again touching on the subject of time management, but not exactly like I’ve done before. I’ve been reminded in the last few weeks of an important writer’s mantra:

Protect your writing time at all costs.

As writers, our time is valuable. We don’t have more than other people, so we must block out sections of the day (or week or month) to sit at our desk with a keyboard (or typewriter or paper) to do what we love. But, if you’re like me, you have a lot of other things vying for your time. There are chores that need done. Day jobs that must be worked (ugh!). Friends and family who want to spend time with you. It can be overwhelming. It can also be easy to let those other things steal your time, whittling it down until you get to the end of the day and realize you didn’t write any of the 1,000 words you wanted to have completed in your new novel.

Those things, however, are the “good” ones. Writers need to be around people (writers are human, after all), and until they become more successful, they need other jobs to sustain themselves. But trouble comes when other things like social media get in the way. I’m not saying Facebook and Twitter are terrible things that should be avoided, but there comes a point where they become huge time-sucks. You may feel obligated to rummage through 50 notifications and leave 1,000 words-worth of comments on Facebook instead of focusing that energy and time into penning 1,000 words for your current writing project. Trust me, I know.

As Sean Connery said in Finding Forrester, “Writers write.” That requires time. In this (over)busy society we live in, time is even more precious. Writers can’t afford to let it be stolen unnecessarily. It is a treasure hidden in a castle and there are barbarians at the gate seeking to steal it. We writers must stand our ground. We have to set boundaries and, if needed, quote Captain Picard, who said, “This far! No farther!” when something infringes on our writing time. Otherwise, we will miss a deadline and/or regret that we didn’t get anything done.

How can you go about this? I think it depends on your particular personality and situation. If social media is an issue, consider doing a “detox,” i.e. fast from it for a time. If your hobbies are taking you away, discipline yourself to use them as a reward for completing your writing goal. For example, I try not to play video games until I’ve finished working or completed a task. Heck, a friend told me about a couple of apps one can get on a smartphone that turn goal setting into an RPG. I believe they’re called LifeRPG and EpicWin. Those might be great tools for you.

I started this blog by saying writers have to defend their writing time. I ended with talk of role-playing games. Perhaps it’s time for you to “level up” and protect that treasure!

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