How to be a Better Writer: Manage the Day

If you want to be a better writer, manage the day.

My campus pastor has said that failing to plan is planning for failure. He’s right. Without a plan, you twiddle your thumbs, put your feet up. You go nowhere fast.

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Put another way: manage your day, or your day will manage you. Set aside time for your writing. Plan for unexpected emergencies by creating buffers around your work time and scheduled projects. Give yourself deadlines.

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A calendar can be helpful with managing your day. Other options: sticky notes, Evernote, a note pad, a scrap of paper. Also, a pen or pencil.

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Study how you work. Decipher when you do your best writing. Protect that time of day at all costs, even if that means you have to get up earlier, lock yourself away in the office, or go to the nearest coffee shop. Find what works for you.

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Don’t panic if you miss your scheduled writing time. Sometimes you need a break. Just keep a wary eye on your activities. If you’re replacing your writing time with something like watching television or pinning “all the things” on Pinterest, you’re in trouble. If you miss your writing time because there’s a family emergency or your friend needs you to come help change a tire or kill the wasp bumping around her apartment, go. People are more important.

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Learn what tasks require little mental effort. Schedule them during your low-performance hours whenever possible.

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Prioritize your work in a way that’s useful to you. If you know one project will require several hours, decide whether to dive into it immediately or to accomplish all your other, little tasks first. A side note: you may change your method depending on the project, where you are, and even how you’re feeling. Sometimes you need a sense of accomplishment before heading into a large project. Other times, you need the distraction offered by the mundane, so you save the little tasks for later.

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If you want to be a better writer, learn to manage your day. Don’t let the day manage you.

Image: Roy Niswanger (Creative Commons)

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