Thursday, January 7, 2016

Five Ways To Manage Your Writing Life

By Fran Lee Strickland @FranLStrickland

It’s the beginning of another new year and as writers we want to make the most of our minutes, hours and days! Here are what I consider the basics of time management.

1. Prioritize

2. Plan

3. Set a timer

4. Develop an accountability method

5. Review

Prioritize. As Christian writers, we should prioritize in the following order: God, Family, Writing, and Play. On a blank sheet of paper, write down in a column the major activities of your week.

Then add four more columns, one for each of the four major categories listed. Place the number of hours  per week spent on each activity in the appropriate column.

How much time do you have in a week?
Let’s figure it out. If you allow 8 hours of sleep per night, that’s fifty-six hours per week. If you work at a full time job other than writing, that’s forty hours per week. What you have left is seventy-nine (79) hours to prioritize. You can adjust this according to your actual sleep and work time.

A priority chart like the one shown will summarize the time spent in each category, and may prompt you to reduce hours in some areas and dedicate more in others. The percentages are calculated by dividing the total number of hours in each category by the overall total number of hours (in this case 79).

Plan. Once you prioritize the number of hours assigned to each category, it is time to plan the details of the activities. From the chart I see that I have sixteen hours dedicated to writing this week. I can choose to split the 10 hours into 5 days of writing, 2 hours for each day. Or I can plan to write two days a week, 5 hours each day. The other writing hours are for research, blog posts and social media.
Always plan flexible hours into your week for unexpected events.
Two hours a week for social media is not much at all, but the only way I can allot more time toward it in my busy schedule is if I utilize some of the Flexible hours from my Priority Chart. Always plan flexible hours into your week as a cushion for unexpected events. If unexpected events do not eat up all the flexible hours that week, then more hours will be available to utilize for social media, or research or whatever may need a little more attention. If nothing else, then you can use flexible hours to take a nap!
Set A Timer. When you sit down to write, make sure your friends and family know that you are not to be disturbed for anything other than an emergency. Set the clock and start writing. When the time is up, get up, reset the clock and move on to the next activity on your schedule. Otherwise, you might get a lot of writing done, but the children will go hungry!

Develop An Accountability Method. There isn’t much point in creating a time management system if you are not going to hold yourself accountable. Most of us respond well to a reward system. It might be a piece of chocolate at the end of the day if you stuck to your daily schedule or an outing to a movie if you stuck to the schedule for the whole week.

Review. The demands life places on you will change. Take time periodically to review your Priority Chart then factor in new activities or remove ones that are no longer a part of your life.
What about you?
How do you manage your week to ensure there is always time to write?

Leave a comment and share this blog with your social media friends!

Fran Lee Strickland

Serves as treasurer of the American Christian Fiction Writers chapter of South Carolina and is a member of Blue Ridge Writers group, near Asheville, North Carolina. Contributor to three non-fiction anthologies: Divine Moments, Christmas Moments and Spoken Moments. Near completion of first fiction suspense novel, Roots That Run Deep. Mother of Jake. Loves intrigue, chocolate and coffee! Blogs about faith and writing at http:/


  1. Fran, you have done a great job helping us get on the right tract, time wise for this new year!
    Elva Cobb Martin, Pres. ACFW-SC Chapter

  2. Thank you, Elva. Sometimes we just need a little reminder to take time to prioritize and plan our busy lives.

  3. This is great Fran. I have mine scribbled on scrap paper but need to organize it. I'm going to use your suggestions. Of course I love the spread sheet idea.

  4. Thanks, Lillian. I hope this method will help you achieve your writing goals this year!

  5. Darmie, you are so right! We should strive to be proactive rather than reactive with our time. Thank you for stopping by!