Monday, February 1, 2010

How I Stay On Task

I had a really good friend ask me a while ago what my writing process is. How do I sit down and stay on task with all of my projects during the day, especially since I am doing this writing thing for a living? Well, after months of tweaking the system, I found a way that works for me and may be the inspiration to help you get something structured – if you’re not already.

Essentially I started out trying to follow a schedule for the day. From this time to this time I would shower, eat breakfast and get to work. Then from this time to this time I would write and from this time to this time I would work on the website, etc. But following that structure didn’t seem to really work for me. I would go to coffee with a friend or meet up with my wife for a break and my whole schedule would be out of whack.

So I tried an alternative. I went ahead and took the time to figure out how much time I would (realistically) like to spend on certain projects. Then I would just make sure that I devote that much time in each day, morning or night, for that particular project. There didn’t have to be a certain time I would start certain things, I could roll with what I felt like doing. For example, if I felt like writing after I got ready in the morning, then I would do my allotted hours of writing first, then I could move on with my other projects.

Since this is my job, I try to give myself 10 hour days, 5 days a week, and then I use Saturday to catch up on anything I might have fallen behind on. I try to give myself 4 hours to write (that includes my novels and blogging), 4 hours to work on miscellaneous projects (including web design, logos, cover design and marketing), an hour for lunch, and an hour for reading.

This process works quite well for me, especially if I am called to something else during the day, because then I can just use my evening to make up the difference. This also acts as a good discipline for the use of my time. If I goof around too much during the day, then I know I'm going to be working through the night to get my projects finished. Either way, stuff gets done using this method.

One really good tool that I use to keep me on track with this method is a digital stopwatch on my computer. I grabbed mine from and I use it to keep tabs on how much of my time is actually going toward the projects I am working on. I stop the watch if I have to use the restroom, take a phone call, or get a snack. Because let’s face it, I know if I get up to get a snack, then I’m going to end up watching the television or start organizing something in the living room and then everything goes south from there…


Karen said...

I always wondered how full-time writers kept on schedule. I feel so burnt out after Nano, I don't end up writing for a couple months. I don't know how I could force myself to write EVERY day for a whole year. Hats off to you!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Karen! :D