Thursday, 19 September 2013

Guest post: Time Management by Carmen Botman

I started writing at a very young age and completed my first novella at the age of 17. Of course, back then, I had all the time in the world, didn’t I? But then life sort of happened, as it tends to do, and no matter how much the writing bug kept gnawing at my insides, I managed to convince myself that writing wouldn’t be possible because there was just no time in my busy schedule. I mean, come on! I work 8 to 10 hours out the house. I have no domestic helper. My husband works and studies full-time, plus I have two lively Labradors needing unending attention. Feeling a constant emptiness somewhere deep inside of me, I finally surrendered to it. I had to write. And as soon as I started again, the emptiness was filled.

And now, a mere two years after my first earnest start again, I managed to finish an 82 000 word manuscript last year. I’m currently 22 000 words into the second novel with a number of smaller projects on the side.

How did I manage all of this, you ask? Well, as the heading boldly states, Time Management. Of course we all come from very different scenarios and there is no clear-cut recipe for success, but why not try out a few of the things that have worked for me:

  • Set aside an area in your house that’s just for you to write in – preferably a place with only the minimal amount of distractions.
  • Make certain that the family knows that when you’re in that space, you’re working, so disruptions should be kept to a minimum.
  • Print out monthly calendars (two or three months at a time) and put them up where you can see them easily when you’re working on your laptop or PC. On these calendars you can jot down deadlines of competitions you’re planning on entering, your word count goals, etc.
  • Make a clear list of all the projects you’re currently working on with all the due dates, so that you can stay on top of everything and not get flustered. Stick this up somewhere close to your workstation as well.
  • Set daily, weekly or monthly word count goals for yourself. This way you’re committing yourself to something. I always work better when there’s a ‘due date’ or in this case a ‘due word count.’
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself when you’ve not managed to stick to your schedule. Life happens. Just remember that next time you sit down to write, you have to write just those few extra words to catch up.
  • Join up with a local writing group. You’ll never know what a comfort it is to know that other people out there are in the same boat as you. If they can do it, then you can too. And the support you’ll receive is phenomenal!
  • If you find yourself in a serious need to catch-up, it may be worthwhile entering the annual Nanowrimo project, which will push you to limits you never dreamed possible.
  • Most importantly, you have to know why you’re writing. If you always remember the reason that you’re writing in the first place, your passion will keep you going no matter what life throws at you.

Like Toni Morrison says: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” So what are you waiting for? Get writing!

Linzé's note: Carmen is a YA fantasy author that joined the Pretoria Writers Group this year.  She is taking part in our STORM anthology which will be released in the middle of June 2014. You can follow Carmen on Twitter and Facebook.