Friday, February 10, 2012

Six Tips in Six Hundred Words: How to Make Time to Create Your Masterpieces

If you can spend all the time you want to on your writing, you don’t need this. But if your schedule is so squeezed, it’s hard to keep your writing on track, take five minutes, and absorb these 6 tips.

1.      Make your writing a priority. Look for ways to pinch minutes from other responsibilities. For example, do necessary meetings waste your time? Try this: use email to confirm the meeting’s duration and agenda beforehand. Once at the meeting, if possible, let others speak first. Take notes. If short of time, clarify desired considerations, action, problem solution, etc. and suggest tabling the matter to allow all parties, including you, time for careful consideration of their decisions. If email works best for you, suggest using it for further discussion. Similarly keep phone calls to the point. When a friend calls to chat, suggest a better time, perhaps one day at lunch.

2.      Write do lists that work for you. Too often our do lists are like wish lists. Active mental preplanning when you jot down reminders uncovers unexpected obstacles. For example, you may discover a need to research setting details or flesh out a character before writing the chapter you had hoped to draft one evening. Proactive planners spend a few extra minutes to line up their work, but their preparedness saves time in completion of chores. They also gain personal empowerment when guided by a readiness to meet challenges in contrast to those who constantly find themselves tripped by unanticipated circumstances.

3.      Evaluate networking verses needs. For example, if you usually attend an annual event, question its present benefits. Perhaps a pass on a workshop will free up a weekend for completion of a project. Similarly, if your work-focused critique group has disintegrated to a social, consider options open to you. You might announce you will arrive ready to work and leave at the hours previously set.  If your group meets weekly, ask how members would feel about your attending bi-weekly. Most groups are flexible.  If yours isn’t, perhaps you can join an on-line group.

4.      Do take time to develop relationships within your writing community. When possible, be willing to help others, and they will usually reciprocate. When you ask for help, be sure to show appreciation. Pick up the tab for lunch, give a small gift, or at least send a thank-you card. If a need arises, you’ll realize the importance of writing friends. They understand urgencies in the trade. When a mishap threatens your writing derailment, a friend’s expertise, use of someone’s computer or fax machine, especially after normal business hours could be the fix that puts you back on track.

5.      Celebrate victories. Plant smiley-face stickers on your computer for tiny achievements, and expand the reward list from there. Self-rewards impact your efficiency because they affirm and motivate you.

6.      Visualize the steps that lead to your goals and imagine the thrill of achieving them. What is your vision of yourself as a writer? Feel the joy of banking future checks. In your mind’s eye, see your articles featured on magazine covers, or your books on a library shelf. Envision yourself speaking to groups and encouraging individuals. Somehow, despite all demands on your time, such mind exercises and positive thoughts create in you the ability to work efficiently without sacrificing responsibilities or interaction with friends and family.

You’ve heard it takes money to make money. When you invest bits of time to visualize activities, evaluate needs, show small courtesies, and celebrate successes, it’s time that makes time—time to use in creation of your masterpieces.

(c) 2012, Bernice Simpson

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