Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Writer's Block: Time Management

Time is something that is never on our sides. We have too little of it and we run out of it far too fast. Unfortunately, writer's need time to plan, edit, promote, and...oh yeah, write! Many of my clients are parents or have day jobs. When I tell them they should be twittering, updating their website/Facebook, and visiting certain bookstores, they look at me like I'm nuts. "Who has time for that?" In a perfect world, writers would write and someone else could take care of the marketing. But we don't live in a perfect world, so here are a few tips and tricks to more effectively manage your time.

Organize. I recently obtained a Blackberry and immediately fell in love. Not because of the internet or the twitter app (although I do love those) but because of the task reminders. I sometimes forget to open Outlook until I'm well into my morning or I'll forget to enter an item into my calender. Now, I can record tasks even when I'm away from the computer and if I forget, a little buzz and a couple beeps remind me. You don't want to waste time figuring out what you're supposed to accomplish that day. Write To-Do lists, utilize your smart phone, stick post-it notes to the computer, whatever works. But when you wake up and pour that first cup of coffee, you should already know what's on the agenda for that day.

Have a plan. My brain begins slowing around 6pm and dissolves into mush by nine. I work best and I'm the most creative in the morning. Therefore, e-mails, phone calls and errands are pushed to the afternoon. If I have a lot on my plate that day, I wake up a couple hours earlier. Some writers work better at night, which is fine. But if your muse visits you after dinner, make sure you complete all administrative tasks prior to sunset.

Set limits. If you wanted to, you could waste your entire day on Twitter and Facebook alone. It's a good idea to only dedicate 1-2 hours a day to social networking. Anything more than that takes away from writing and isn't the best use of your time. Also, it's easy to respond to every e-mail right when it comes in or to pick up every phone call. If you need to write a certain amount of words, don't let yourself answer the phone or check e-mail until you've reached your word count. You'd be amazed how much quicker you complete tasks when you focus on one thing at a time.

Use all the tricks. Why update both Facebook and Twitter when you can link the two? Why Twitter about every blog post when you can set up an automatic tweet? Why blog everyday when you can write five blog posts in one day (after you've reached your word count of course) and schedule them to post throughout the week. Using these tricks can save you precious writing time and overall, simplify your marketing efforts.

Delegate. There are many marketing and administrative tasks that you don't necessarily have to do yourself. Many of my clients hire me not only for my contact list, but so I can give the marketing effort they don't want to do themselves. Sending out books, visiting bookstores, setting up Twitter and Facebook; all of these take time and many authors would rather use that time to write. If you're not in a financial position to hire an assistant, publicist or manager, reach out to your network. Is your husband a computer whiz? Let him manage your website and Facebook pages. Don't have time to visit every bookstore in the US? Tell your aunt in Omaha, your college buddy in Ann Arbor, your in-laws in LA and your Bubbe in Boca to head down to their local bookstores and libraries and ask for your book. If you delegate the tasks you don't need to complete yourself, you will have less stress and more time to write.

Feel free to comment with your own time-saving tips and tricks. We can never have too many!

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