Planning Time To Write

In his book, "Achieving Financial Independence as a Freelance Writer," Ray Dreyfack, a full-time freelancer for 30 years, suggests that writers "ease" into full-time writing while maintaining their day jobs. If you're following this advice, either by choice or by necessity, you know that it's not always easy. Obligations to jobs and families tend to take priority over writing. It's easy to lose focus of your writing goals when you have so many distractions in your life.

It is possible to pursue a career as a freelance writer, even though you can't commit yourself to it full time. All you need are three things: time management skills, desire, and a day-planner. If you have the first two, you can get the third after you read this article!

Schedule Your Week

As in any part-time job, you must determine your hours of availability. Every Sunday evening check your calendar for the upcoming week. Schedule yourself "off" for the days filled other obligations. Establish what your work hours will be before you do anything else. Write your work days and times in your planner.

Writing Goals

Most experts promote the practice of setting writing goals. However, plans such as, "write something everyday" or "research on Mondays, write queries on Tuesdays," (you get the picture), are too vague for writers operating on a time crunch. What happens if your child has a band concert on Tuesday? Not only will that throw you off course for this week, chances are, it will also set you back the following week. These disruptions in such a loose plan can cause frustration and weaken your writing resolve. For greater productivity, set your goals on a weekly basis, after you've determined your hours of availability. Plan what you will do at each work session, according to the time available, and write it in your planner. This way, you'll be focused the minute you sit down, instead of trying to decide what you should do.

Create A Secondary "To Do" List

This list is separate from your weekly plan. It contains tasks that require a small block of time to complete. Organizing files, writing greeting card ditties, sending out reprint offers, and researching markets are some examples. This list is where you turn when you unexpectedly find yourself with extra work time. It will also come in handy on those days when your work time has been unavoidably reduced. Without this list, you may end up spending this precious time trying to decide what to do with it. Designate an area in your planner for this list. Remember to cross off your accomplishments and add to your list as needed.

Organize Your Supplies

Keep everything you need in one area. Nothing wastes time like repeatedly getting up to retrieve items you need. If you have an office or work area, keep your most important tools of the trade close at hand. If you don't have an area designated for your writing, a bin with everything you'll need works just fine.

Use an area in your planner to keep track of your writing supplies. Make a list of everything you use. As you begin to run low on any of the items, make a note to replenish your stock as soon as possible.

Show Up For Work

This is probably the most difficult part of all, because there are always going to be reasons for not writing. After you've made your schedule, do everything in your power to stick to it. No employer in their right mind would pay an employee who always makes excuses for not showing up. If you want to get paid for your writing, you must plan time to write!

Karen Bianchi is a freelance writer who also holds a part-time "day job." She has 4 kids and is the editor of

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