Deadlines, Platform, Life Commitments, Oh My!

by | Writing | 6 comments

image by geralt

Have you ever felt so frazzled, you couldn’t find the panic button?

You may even ask, “How could this happen? I’m an organized person.”

Last week as I shuffled through my Writer’s Digest magazines, I spotted the February 2017 issue’s article, “Map Your Writing Time” by Sage Cohen. I gauged Ms. Cohen’s suggestions with how I use them.

Ms. Cohen’s Suggestions

1. Articulate your destination. I prioritize my writing and personal goals every week. I divvy up tasks then enter them on my scheduling template, which already displays regular tasks. I put an * next to writing, platform, speaking, and marketing tasks. On the side, l record future tasks to schedule. If I can, I include some padding. Then I report my goals with an * to my accountability partners.

2.  Make one goal inform another to “allocate your time in a way that delivers the greatest value.” I often use the projects I’m working on as subjects of my blogs. For example, when I did a book signing for my first book, I wrote a blog post from my research and experience. Reviewing that post while I write this one, reminded me of tasks I need for the bookstore signing I’m doing this Saturday.

3.  Set timers so you don’t spend too much time on nonwriting tasks. No problem. I have two devices in my office, but I’ll now use the timers more on nonwriting tasks.

4,  Use nonwriting commitments to service your writing. I always mull writing ideas during long drives to scheduled obligations. I’ll brainstorm my protagonist’s goals on my half-hour drive to my writers’ group tomorrow.

image by geralt

5.  If you’re repeatedly drawn toward a project that’s not a top priority, consider moving it there. Although I scheduled work on my new novel, my non-fiction kept calling me to finish it ahead of deadline and send it. After reading this suggestion, I’m doing that.

6.  Don’t waste perfectly good slivers of time. I’m writing now while my husband attends an evening meeting.

7. Rise an hour earlier when it’s quiet. I get up at 5:30, but I’m considering 5:00 for a short duration while I’m under two deadlines and know galleys are coming soon for a third book.

8.  Leave notes where you stop working. I suppose I should expand on “STOPPED HERE.”

image by stevepb

9.  Track your time on tasks and learn how much time you need so you’ll know better what tasks and projects you can take on. Good idea, but I don’t have time. :0)

10.  Stop panicking and appreciate the time you have and the progress you’re making in that time. I’ll appreciate my time and progress more. I’m already thankful for a husband who takes over housework so I can write. He’s also taken over some marketing tasks.

Reading Ms. Cohen’s suggestions showed me I do many of the right activities. When I start to feel overwhelmed, I need to forget the pileup and just do what I’ve scheduled.

Writers, are you so panicked you can’t find the panic button? Click to tweet.

What do you do to make your writing, platform, and life commitments mesh?

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  1. Sally Jo Pitts

    Good info, Zoe. This goes along so well with my experiment to redeem time!

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      I’ve noticed your practical suggestions, Sally

  2. Tanya Hanson

    Hi Zoe, I always appreciate your posts. I have reached the conclusion-and it is the right one for me–that writing was too big an intrusion in
    my family life to keep going on with so little reward. The relief I feel is intense! Publishers who continue to sign up authors (to make more money, I suppose, considering royalties are so skimpy) while ignoring their existing authors or not helping them grow just got to me at last. Toss in that the onus of ALL promo is on the author, as well as finding reviewers, is not what I signed up for lol.

    Anyway, I know my feelings are my own and I wish you and all writer-comrades continued joy in your pursuits. I do have a few books to my name, and that’s enough for now.

    Much love to you!

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Tanya, you sum up a lot of the frustrations. I admire you for making the decision that is best for you and your family. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but your relief instead of guilt speaks loudly. I always enjoy your comments, Tanya. May God direct you to new endeavors.

  3. Patti Shene

    Hi Zoe. I always enjoy your posts. This one was most helpful for me because I never seem to find the time to do anything I want to do, especially writing! It is always moved to the back burner and I’m getting tired of it always sitting there! Thanks for the tips

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      I have to confess, Patti, that when I retired early to write, I started doing all the things I couldn’t do working full time. I watched HGTV and redecorated my house. But I’m in the writing and platform groove now, and putting those goals down on paper to guide my days has been the most helpful in keeping me moving.

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