Today we'd like to welcome Kate Hardy to our blog. Some have called her super scary for her organisational and planning skills but they certainly pay off as regards her productivity for Harlequin Mills and Boon and we can only say she's super nice for sharing her advice today...
First of all, thank you very much to the Minxes for inviting me over to talk about a subject dear to my heart – time management for writers.
Time management? Don’t you just sit and write when the muse takes you? Er, not if you write six books a year for Mills & Boon, you don’t. You have deadlines, and that means planning your time sensibly so you can meet said deadlines.
And planning is all about knowing how you work and what you’re comfortable doing. You might be the kind of writer who plans everything out and does a set amount each day to hit your deadline (aka the tortoise approach); or you might be better when you’re working on a screaming deadline, so you think about the book for ages and then write the whole thing in a ridiculous amount of time (aka the hare approach). Both approaches are absolutely valid; the trick is to find out which one suits you best. (And be aware that it might change depending on your circumstances…!)
For me, because I write for two different M&B lines (Modern Heat and Medical Romance), I write six books a year. That gives me 8 weeks per book – minus a week for thinking, another for revisions, and another to clear my head between books/deal with the unexpected, so that’s five weeks to write 50,000 words, or 2,000 words a day with two days off a week. Not quite as scary as it sounded at first, is it?
Whichever approach you take, there are some tips that can help you work smarter rather than harder:
· Build in extra time for the unexpected (especially if you have kids – if you have more than one, it’s more likely that they’ll get that lurgy one after the other rather than all at the same time)
· Give yourself time to think, research and edit
· Work at your ‘best time’ when you can (are you a lark who likes working before everyone in the house gets up, or an owl who’s best late at night? – but you do have to take your personal circumstances into account, so as I’m a lark I never get my ‘best’ working time during school termtime)
· Do the admin in your ‘worst time’ (filing, PLR/ALCS, tax receipts – also note that doing it daily in smaller chunks is less painful and doesn’t take up creative headspace. Plus you can always write blog posts in advance and schedule them)
· Schedule in some exercise (aka creative thinking time) – it’ll give you a break and you’ll come back mentally refreshed
· Know your personal time-sucks (which one’s yours? I’ll admit to email, facebook and certain forums and blogs, playing Boggle when I’m stuck, and research that goes off at tangents – and this is why I dare not do Twitter, cough) and plan round them. That means using a kitchen timer to remind you when you’ve spent half an hour playing; or working in chunks of 500-750 words, with scheduled breaks for time-sucks (thanks to Michelle Styles for that tip); or, as a last resort, unplugging your modem or working on a laptop without a net connection to make sure you don’t get distracted.
Kate Hardy’s latest book, Red Wine and Her Sexy Ex, is the first in a duo about the Lefèvre brothers. It’s available now at bookshops, Amazon or at the M&B website. Keep up to date with Kate's latest news via her blog
We're very much looking forward to welcoming Kate back to our blog on the first of October when she'll be guest blogging for us about research.