Are you tired of writing too slowly and too painfully?
- Is writing a dreaded chore that you avoid?
- Do you suffer from writer’s block?
- Would you like to write faster and more easily?
- Would you like to be in control of your writing instead of having it control you?
If you’re fed up with a daily diet of writing stress, I can help. As the Publication Coach, I bring techniques from daily journalism and time management, and adapt them to meet your writing needs. If you’d like to double your writing speed, look no further than my book, which presents a system for writing that will help you write with ease and clarity. Yes, you, too can write faster, better!
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- It’s weekly and it’s short. Super short. As in 3 minutes or less to read.
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How to plan your writing time
Word count: 756 words
Reading time: About 3 minutes
Do you habitually leave everything until the last minute? Or are you smart enough to plan your writing time? Here’s how you can plan it in reverse….
Last week I was out for breakfast with friends when I received an urgent text from my son.
“Mom,” it said, “I paid my tuition [for a summer course] last night the way the bank showed me, but UBC hasn’t registered the money. Did I just pay 600 [expletive] dollars into thin air? Also, my tuition is due today and I cannot afford it with the remaining money in my account. Dad won’t understand online banking and he will blame me for this. I need you.”
Although my son was shrewd enough to bury a compliment in his request for help, he wasn’t smart enough to make his payment in time.
It takes three days for online payments to clear his bank.
As a result, he’s going to have to pay a $100 late fee. And, despite his excellent sucking up, this will come from his own account – not the Bank of Mom and Dad.
Have you ever left a piece of writing to the last minute? And did you pay for it?
Here is how you can plan your writing and avoid the pain of being late:
Always allocate your writing time the SAME DAY you receive an assignment. Whether it’s for school or for work, whether the assignment is a Major Big Deal or a minor nuisance, make your plan immediately. You’ll quadruple your odds of success.
Engineer this plan in reverse. People pay attention when I talk about the 7 habits of highly effective writers. But today I’m referring to more than habits. I’m talking about the schedule you should produce.
Start with the due date and work back from there. What’s the last thing you should do before handing in a piece? Editing it, of course. And how long will that take you? It depends on your skill and experience. For short pieces, 1,500 words or less, I like to allow at least 30 minutes for every 750 words. It may take you longer.
The next time you edit, time yourself. Then, for the purpose of this schedule, divide the total word-count of your assignment by the number of words you can edit in 30 minutes. Mark it in your schedule.
From there, plan your incubation. This is when you will put your draft aside, without looking at it (no peeking!) for at least one day. Plan an even longer gap if the work is more than 5,000 words. If you don’t plan for it now, you’ll never have the time for this.
Next, schedule your writing time. Just as you need to know how many words you can edit in 30 minutes, you also need to know how many you can write. “But Daphne,” I hear you saying. “Every project is different. How can I possibly predict?” Let me suggest you start by guessing. Then test the accuracy of your assumption by timing yourself. True, writing some projects will be easier than others, but use a workable average. Businesses do this guessing all the time (with finances) when they prepare their business plans.
Once you know how many words you can write in 30 minutes (your writing speed) then divide the total number of words of your assignment by this speed. For example, if you can write 250 words in 30 minutes and your project is 1,200 words, writing will take you 4.8 blocks of 30 minutes. That’s 144 minutes or 2.4 hours. Decide how many hours per day you’re prepared to work on writing and mark it in your calendar. (If you’re feeling really nervous about your inability to estimate, then schedule in 25% or 50% more time, just to be safe.)
Next, schedule your mindmapping. If you still think outlining would be better, please read my rant about that. Mindmapping shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes but allow a day for it.
Next, program your research. It’s very difficult for me to suggest how long to plan for this. Working people and university students have entirely different needs, so here’s a spot where you need to use your best guess. Remember: if you’ve spent enough planning time, to determine your angle or thesis statement, the research will go faster than you think because you’ll be more focused.
Finally, mark off enough time for thinking and planning. Do this away from your desk, ideally when you’re doing something physical such as walking, cycling, swimming, vacuuming or cooking.
So there you have it: a backwards plan. Don’t leave it to the last minute. Don’t pay a $100 fine. Just start!
How do you plan your writing time? We can all learn from each other so please share your thoughts with my readers and me by commenting below. (If you don’t see the comments box, click here and then scroll to the end.)
If you enjoyed this post you might also like:
7 ways to boost your creativity
Why you should set a writing time LIMIT
Why you shouldn’t write too much at once
Photo courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net