Recently in one of my social media circles I saw some talk from writers about nonwriters who said they would write if they only had the time. Evidently, saying that to a writer doesn't go over well. Don't do that.
I obsessed about this issue, as I obsess about so many things. What compassionate and helpful suggestions would I offer to people who told me they would write, if only they had the time? Then through Twitter I stumbled upon a blog post called Time Management Tips for Athletes and Gym Rats. The training plan described could just as easily be applied to writing, especially for people new to managing writing time.
Think Like An Athlete In Training
Flexible Training/Writing. Alter your training/writing schedule when you need to. That's situational time management. No, you do not have to write at the exact same time every day or every week or whatever you do. If something happens and you've lost your assigned writing time, just shift to another time for your work. The value in this? If you can't adapt to your new time situations, you tend to just give up because your "writing time" is gone.
Create Time. You don't create time by waving a magic wand and actually creating time. Before you start working, look at your calendar each week and actually work out how many hours you can use for writing. Yeah, that's sort of another way of saying "planning." But creating sounds more creative, doesn't it?
Prioritize. Usually when writers talk about prioritizing, they mean "make writing a priority." But in this case, we mean prioritize writing tasks. Go through the various things you need to do for a writing project--research, character development, outlining, if you're interested in outlining, prepping for writing group, I could go on and on--and determine which needs to be your top priority right now. That's what you'll work on first.
Be Realistic. Don't set yourself up for failure by believing you can spend more time writing than you can. If you can't be one of those writers who cranks out a book-length manuscript every three or four months, accept that and be the writer who cranks out a book in a year or two.
Be Open To New Experience. Or, In Other Words, Be A User
This next bit isn't part of the sports analogy I'm working on here, but I think it's important. Time Management Tips for Athletes and Gym Rats was posted at a site called The Pinkwell. The Pinkwell is some sort of women's clothing sales site that appears to have a specific demographic, the population that works out in gyms and runs triathalons, in fact. (Writers are more into bicycling, yoga, and martial arts, in my experience.) Pinkwell is not a writing site or a business management site or an academic site, the kinds of places I usually find time management information. Pinkwell's time management post turned up in my Tweetdeck #timemanagement column because someone tweeted it with the hashtag #timemanagement.
I think of myself as a user. When I find ideas that I can relate to something going on in my life, I grab them and use them, wherever they come from. And that may be a time management technique that could be particularly useful for a new writer with little time.
Always be thinking about how you can make something work for you.