Plan Ahead to Maximize Writing Time

Hey, SE Readers. Joan with you today.

Most of us would agree that there aren’t enough hours in the day, especially when it comes to writing. For me, it seems that Murphy’s Law often happens during my writing sessions—an unexpected phone call, visit, or an urgent matter that must be dealt with immediately. (I’ll not mention the times I distract myself. Oh, wait. I just did.)

You get the idea. While it’s impossible to avoid every distracting situation, there are a few things we can do to maximize our writing time.

Let’s say you’re ready to begin a new project or perhaps you have a deadline to get a draft of your novel to the publisher. You’ve set a goal to finish within “x” number of days. Every minute counts—whether you’re able to write full-time or still hold a job outside the home.

We all know there’s more to being an author than simply writing. Social media, interacting with your readers, promoting, marketing, and other things are just a few of the things authors do. Most of us have blogs that we maintain. All of these things take time away from writing.

One thing I’ve learned to do in regard to blogging is to plan ahead. Here at Story Empire, we prepare a yearly calendar that’s prepared at least a couple of months before the new year. Each author knows in advance what days they’re scheduled to post. That gives us time to plan our topics and, if we choose, to schedule the posts weeks or months in advance.

Because I’d planned to focus on fiction writing the early part of 2022, I wrote and scheduled six months of Story Empire posts. I did this for most of 2021 as well.

On my personal blog, I have a regular monthly feature called Mystery Monday as well as a Legends and Lore series. These posts require a lot of research. As with fiction ideas, I keep a list of potential topics. In December, I set a goal to write and schedule a minimum of three months of each post. I dedicated one weekend to writing and scheduling them.

Doing this takes a lot of pressure off. There’s nothing like realizing the first Monday of the month (the week I post Mystery Mondays) is less than a week away and I have no idea what to write. Last year, I failed to plan ahead and therefore I skipped several months of not having the regular Monday post.

Likewise, you can also schedule social media posts in advance. Buffer allows for the scheduling of multiple posts for both Twitter and Facebook.

Granted all Tweets and posts can’t be scheduled ahead of time, nor can all blog entries be written. I post a lot of book reviews. Can’t write a review before I read the book. I also believe we should all allow for some spontaneity. But a little planning and scheduling can go a long way toward maximizing our writing time.  

74 thoughts on “Plan Ahead to Maximize Writing Time

  1. Pingback: #ReblogAlert- #TwoFer #ThisWeekOnStoryEmpire & #SmorgasbordWeeklyRoundUp | The Write Stuff

  2. Great post, Joan 🙂 I wish I was able to schedule out months in advance like you do. The most I’ve done is a month ahead. Although I do strive to do this and know it would relieve the pressure I end up with not doing it. Even just to have the ideas would be useful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve written plenty of posts by the seat of my pants. When I get ideas in my head, I go ahead and write them. I’m working on the latter part of the year posts now. Can’t say that I’ll always do this.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great article, planning is always key. I only manage to keep my blog going by having a specific posting schedule and having many of my posts written early. Not to mention, any ideas for posts are “created” with basic notes and saved in drafts. I can then scroll through them when I am struggling for a new idea. Without a plan, I would definitely get caught with distractions.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Hi Joan, you are very organised. When I plan ahead it is never more than about 2 posts. Some of mine, especially my monthly posts on Writing to be Read blog, require research and I usually know in advance what I’m going to write about, but I rarely do much research in advance of a few days before the posts. My personal blogs I pretty much wing and I’m not very consistent with posting. If work overwhelms, I sometimes just don’t post for a few days. It is a good idea to plan ahead like this.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You’re so organized, Joan. It’s wonderful to be able to plan and follow through rather than constantly wing it, which is what I do. But I’m at a time in my life where I don’t have a lot of control over my schedule. I suppose planning ahead is exactly what I need! Lol. Thanks for the great advice. Your rock.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I totally agree, Joan, that planning ahead can certainly take off some of the pressure. I definitely schedule my guest posts ahead of time on my blog and anything else that I can. My regular Monday posts require a concentrated effort to find the meditations and pull the tarot cards, so those cannot be done ahead of time. Everything else, I do as much as I can in advance. Thank you for sharing this. It’s something we all deal with. Great suggestions!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Excellent points and reminders. I completely agree! This is especially true for myself, I currently have two toddlers and find that it can present to be an “all in” season of life and I have started scheduling my writing work and personal writing time each week. It has helped tremendously. This posts timing was serendipitous.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A timely post, Joan. I have plenty of time during the day to write, but I also have projects from other writers that need attention (editing, audiobook production, book trailer production). I get paid for those projects, so they come first. I still manage to find time to work on my own writing. I like your approach in planning ahead. I need to give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great advice, Joan. My writing has been almost non-existent for several months. Work has been crazy, I changed jobs, still working PT for my former employer. Moved to a new state, and can see how little I have done. This is a good reminder of how a schedule will help with writing and life in general.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m actually pretty good at planning my writing time. I have a set schedule where I devote Sunday afternoons to writing. Blogging is another matter. I do write my Story Empire posts a few months in advance, but I’m always scrambling at the last minute for my personal blog. I used to be better at scheduling them, and really need to get back in that routine. This is a good reminder, Joan. Thanks for the nudge!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I admire that you do that, Mae. Usually most of my writing has been in the evenings but of late that’s been nearly impossible. MM and my Legends posts are the only personal ones I do in advance. Lots of others are last minute.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you, Joan. Kismet! I just completed teaching a five-week course that stole four full days per week (to create), the other three days I devoted to writing. At some point, I realized I couldn’t squeeze in blogs and social media (except Twitter, which I schedule through Buffer). I enjoyed the work, but it also showed me the weaknesses in my plan. A friend told me to block off time for each item on the to-do list (30 min. to read blogs, 30 min. to respond to comments on social media, 1 hour for book marketing, etc. etc.). That’s what I’ll be working on today. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m laughing because my blogging life is bipolar. For two years now, I’ve planned, written, and scheduled an entire year of Story Empire posts before January 1. If I had that same dedication to my personal blog, I’d be prolific. Instead, I try to write posts where they fit in my schedule, which seems to be almost never these days. Sigh. I’m your perfect case study.

    Great post, Joan.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Planning ahead is the greatest way to maximize writing time, Joan. I don’t know what I would do if I waited till the last minute. I am very impressed with your SE planning. I could use some improvement in that area. Thanks for the reminder to get more planning into my writing life. (hard for pantsters for sure)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wonderful advice. My house is relatively calm, but sometimes things get busy. I often have to insist on a couple of hours in a different room to deal with my author world. Planning some of these things ahead is a good idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m the “Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?” type, Michael. I have to purposely focus and be determined or I’d never get anything done. But yes, scheduling can be (for me) a way of procrastination. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Your wrote this just for me, didn’t you! It’s not 9.30 yet and I’ve put out the recycling, pruned a bramble worthy of inclusion in Hogwart’s list of deadly plants, sorted the washing and tried to make the kitchen look more like one from an Ideal Home magazine (I failed). I no longer work and I’m in perpetual awe of the writers like you who also hold down full-time jobs. When I first came downstairs, I was buzzing with lines that I wanted to write down but they had to wait – I’d forgotten that this morning was bin day, I’ve been putting off that bramble for over a year and it was sprouting fresh greenery, the washing heap had grown to unamanageable proportions and the sight of the kitchen drags me down. Having read this post, I’ve dug out a notebook and shall attempt to restore some order to my life. What you say makes so much sense and I’m hoping to organise my time more wisely. Many thanks, Joan!

    Liked by 2 people

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