Why Writers Need to Become Time Aware


By W. Terry Whalin
 @terrywhalin

As a writer, I want to increase my writing and ability to publish (in any format). I’m basically saying I would like to be more productive. In this article, I want to explain a  key to increasing your productivity: become time aware.

For example, the timing of your pitch is a critical part of the process—and often outside of your control. As an editor, I’ve had authors who don’t take the publishing contract that I offer them through Morgan James yet later (sometimes years after the offer) they will reach out to me and ask if it is still possible. Before answering, I will check with my colleagues then when I find the opportunity is still available, they move forward and publish their book with us and get it into the bookstores.

Everyone has the same amount of time. The key distinction is how we use that time. One of the first steps in the process of becoming more effective with your time is understanding how you’re using it. I encourage you to keep a time log for a week. You can be as detailed or simple as you want but make a written record of how you are spending your time each day. Then after a week evaluate the time log to note areas where you are wasting time. You will “discover” the hour or two you are spending reading Facebook posts or watching videos on YouTube. Or the several hours each night you are spending in front of the television watching shows. Or possibly it is some other time-wasting activity such as spending time on the phone talking with a relative or __________. Each of us are wasting time on these types of activities. Once the time is spent you can never get it back. Your awareness is the first step then you make intentional changes in how you spend your time to accomplish whatever you want. You may want to increase your writing, publishing, platform building, marketing and any number of other aspects of the writing life.

In the past, I’ve learned my mind can often create barriers. Possibly you are in this situation. I say to myself, “My best writing time is in the morning so I can only write then.” Or “My best time to write is after my kids are in bed.” Be aware of these mental restrictions, then consciously remove these barriers from your schedule. Maybe you only have ten or fifteen minutes to crank out some words like part of a magazine article or a blog post or a book review. My encouragement is for you to use these fifteen minutes wisely and write whenever you can. Some people wonder how I’ve written over 60 books and for more than 50 publications. My writing is just like your writing: one word, one paragraph, one sentence, one page at a time—over and over. When I think about writing, it does nothing to put words on my screen. It is only by sitting at my keyboard and moving my fingers that my writing moves into action.

Our lives as freelance writers provide freedom to control our own schedule and calendar. If I want to spend the day reading a book or taking my wife to lunch, I can do it. Yet this freedom also brings greater individual responsibility. You have no taskmaster or accountability to anyone other than yourself. Be aware of how you use your time.

I also encourage you to create systems and habits to make better use of your time. For example, I use the program called Hootsuite to schedule the majority of my social media. Other people use Buffer as this tool. I also use the “reminders” section on my phone to make sure I meet my various deadlines and tasks. I’ve learned that I can write anywhere and at any time.

As you become more aware of time and how you use it, you can become more productive. Like any journey, your commitment to make changes begins taking the first step.

Tweetable:

This prolific writer and editor contends your first step to increase your productive as a writer is to become time aware. Discover the details here. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in Colorado. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s recent book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

6 comments:

Karen Cioffi said...

Terry, it's so true that everyone has the same amount of time. It's about using it wisely. Taking care of my six-year-old grandson and a disabled husband, I work throughout the day, stopping for interruptions and meals; that's after I get my grandson off to school in the morning. I don't watch TV during the day. And I only use social media for work. I do, though, unwind at night with about two hours of TV. It's my guilty stress reliever. :)

Terry Whalin said...

Karen,

Thanks for this feedback. We each have challenges as writers but using our time wisely is important.

Terry

deborah lyn said...

Terry, Thanks very much for this insightful, Oh so true article!

Terry Whalin said...

Deborah Lyn,

Thank you for the affirmation and comment. Time marches on for each of us--whether we are aware of it or not. I hope each of us learn to spend it wisely.

Terry

Unknown said...

Thanks, Terry, for your motivational challenge. Just now I've returned home from a long 2-week road trip and I'm exhausted. But I needed your encouragement to be aware of my daily "wasted time" and get back to the keyboard, dust off the ToDoList and remember my goals.

Linda Wilson said...

Thank you for the terrific article, Terry. Writing is always a priority for me--it's finding the time to write that's the challenge. You're article is very helpful in getting me back on track.

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