Write On 2017! – Time Management

For the past eight weeks in our Write on 2017 series, we’ve explored ways to stay on course and on fire about our writing. Today we’re going to wrap up the series by discussing the most asked question I get when I give productivity workshops to writers, and that is, “How can I find more time to write?”

If you’ve already made writing a priority (remember this little clown?), it’s not a matter of finding time but better using the time you have. Here are a few quick tips:

1. Clock in for Business – While most of us do not have time clocks to punch when we start writing, there are a number of ways to “cross the threshold” into work. Sit in your writing chair and declare that your workday has begun. Put up a sign that says “Writer at Work.” Or create a writing log and sign in. The key is creating a block of time to write and then honoring that commitment. You wouldn’t cheat an employer out of an honest day’s work; don’t cheat yourself.

2. Minimize Distractions – Turn off all notifications on your phone. Disconnect your computer from the Internet. Tell your family or roommates that you are not to be disturbed unless there is a fire or flood. If it helps, pop in ear buds with the music of your choice or use a sound-streaming service such as Brain FM to improve focus and productivity.

3. Create to-do lists – Before your dedicated writing time, jot down everything you’d like to accomplish, things like number of new words you want to write or pages to edit. Planning ahead will keep you focused and provide a roadmap when you’re not sure where to go next.

4. Report to a goal or productivity partner – Every Monday I send an e-mail to one of my critique partners reporting what I accomplished in my writing world the week prior and what my plans are for the week ahead. She chimes in with praise or cyber hugs then shares her weekly writing update. We’ve been holding each other accountable for more than ten years, and I can tell you I’ve kicked out some pretty impressive word counts in the hours before our check-ins.

5. Tackle tough stuff first – If you’re struggling with a scene or a bit of research, get to it while you’re fresh. Tackling the tough stuff first will free up your mind and will most likely give you a boost of confidence.

6. Writing Sprints – If you’re having a hard time getting started, set a timer for twenty minutes and write, even if it’s something like, “I don’t know what to write” or “This story is giving me fits”. The act of engaging your fingers and putting words on the page should loosen things up. In addition, knowing that you have only a set amount of time will motivate you to get something down. Check out the Ruby Sprint Schedule, which runs during our annual Winter Writing Festival.

7. Reward yourself – In a business where you don’t receive a regular paycheck, it’s important to recognize your accomplishments. Did you finish a particularly rough scene? Dip into your stash of chocolate. Did you meet your writing goals for the day? Walk the dog or watch the next movie in your Netflix queue. These little rewards go a long way in helping you make big progress.

Now it’s your turn!

Your Assignment: Identify at least one thing you can do to better manage your writing time. Write it in the comment section below. Then, DO IT!

This is Part 8 of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood’s series, Write On 2017! A Writer’s Guide to Prioritizing, Goal Setting and Time Management. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.

Shelley Coriell is an award-winning author of mysteries, romantic thrillers, and novels for teens. Her debut thriller was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of the Year, and her other novels have been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Best Paperback Original of the Year from the International Thriller Writers, and a Kirkus Recommended Read. A former magazine editor and restaurant reviewer, Shelley lives in Arizona with her family and the world’s neediest rescue weimaraner. You can find her at and Twittering @ShelleyCoriell.

6 responses to “Write On 2017! – Time Management”

  1. jbrayweber says:

    EXCELLENT advice, Shelley!
    Distractions are my biggest enemies. I tend to drift off during — oh look! A squirrel! — very easily when the words don’t flow. I’ll check email, do a chore, etc. I don’t really consider getting online to do research a distraction, which I do a lot of because ultimately it helps put words to paper. But that said, it can also lead to more research. I truly love research, so at times, it can become a distraction if I let it.

    Great post, Shelley!

    • Ahhhh…research. I love it, too, but like you, I can find myself going down way too many rabbit holes. That’s why I try to keep research and writing time separate. My first drafts are full of xxxx place holders, which is my personal code to research later. 🙂

  2. Great post, Shelly!

    Family are priority. We all know that, and I confess, I did let mine get in my way of my writing a lot. Or I did until this January, when I stated flat out, “I write in the morning between 7 and 10, do not disturb me unless it’s emergency.”

    Of course by the hosting the WWF sprints at that time, it made it real for them–I was actually working with other writers during that time, and it also made me accountable to myself. I also set up appointments based on my writing schedule.

    Letting others know your work schedule really does help. I feel more productive knowing I made my word count goal first thing. I hit my least favorite must-do goal right afterwards.

    Thanks for the great lecture series. I’ve learned a lot!

  3. This is all fantastic advice. I’m a huge fan of list making. That definitely helps keep me focused. I could probably be better about tackling the big things first. I always feel better when I don’t have them hanging over my head anymore. Thank you, Shelley. I *LOVE* this series.

  4. Yaaay, another fan of lists! Tackling tough things first provides so much relief…and with all the angst/worry gone, there’s so much more room for creativity. Write on!


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