Because time management is a dilemma many freelance writers face, I decided to write an article about how you can find and make time to write. This article is based on experience and research.
Find Your Ideal Writing Time
Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule or the Pareto principle?
It’s a concept popularised by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto after he noticed that 80% of Italy’s income comes from 20% of the Italian population.
He concluded that 80% of effects can be achieved from 20% of causes.
To apply this principle to writing, spot the time of the day when your productivity and creativity are highest. For many writers, jotting down a few words in the early morning works. For others, it’s the evenings. It all depends on you.
Your responsibilities also play a role e.g. If you’re a parent, you may want to write when your children are sleeping.
If your day-job is tiring and barely lets you sleep enough hours at night, use weekends – like award-winning science fiction writer John Scalzi did to write his first book, Agent to the Stars.
Follow the 1>0 Principle
Social Media Personality and CEO Gary Vaynerchuk is a firm believer in the importance of trial and error in entrepreneurship.
He has invented the famous 1>0 (one is better than zero) motto that consists of taking small steps in order to reach a milestone.
In the writing world, this can mean writing fifty words while waiting for the soup to boil or sitting at the tram station. Fifty words are better than zero words and these small actions add up over time.
You needn’t always spare tons of hours to write flawlessly. As Author Ann Handley says in her best-selling book Everybody Writes, “Just write. Or, rather, write badly and create a first draft: The Ugly First Draft (TUFD). Very often, the people you think of as good writers are terrible writers on their first drafts.”
Build a “Home Team” to Make Time to Write
Many freelance writers outsource small daily tasks – like cleaning and administrative work – to find more time to write. I hire a VA to collect prospective clients’ names, websites, and contact info.
To learn more about outsourcing, read the third section of Tim Ferriss’s award-winning book “The 4 Hour Week, ‘Automate your cash flow to increase income.”
You might be wondering, “Why would I pay someone to do these tasks when I can do it myself?”
Well, let’s say you want to collect a prospect list of travel agencies in Arizona that you want to pitch your travel writing services to. Finding the names, contact details and email addresses can be time-consuming.
Hiring someone through an online marketplace such as Fiverr to find this information while you finish client work will be more productive use of your time. Speaking of which..
After realising he was getting distracted and not taking advantage of his study time, Francesco Cirillo bought a tomato-like kitchen timer, set it for 10 minutes, and studied for 10 consecutive minutes trying not to do anything else.
After the timer rang, he rewarded himself with a break that motivated him to stay focused when setting the timer again.
Based on this experiment, Francesco reached the final technique that consists of using the Pomodoro (named after the Italian word for tomato) timer to break work into focused time frames (usually 25 minutes) separated by 5-minute breaks.
Today, The Pomodoro Technique is used by millions of writers and entrepreneurs. And there are many browser extensions, apps and websites you can use to access a tomato timer.
Patrick Hoffman, the author of the novel The White Van, went back to his full-time job after quitting it for 18 months. In opposition to the New Rich dream most writers have, Patrick preferred to return to his day-job.
The reason for this is that he tends to only be productive for a few hours daily while wasting the remaining time. His job enabled him to write more productively.
Freelance writer and influencer Linda Formichelli even skips bathroom breaks to force herself to make time to write. “Nothing speeds up your writing like knowing you’re on the verge of having a potty accident”, says Linda in a guest post she wrote for SmartBlogger on writing faster.
“Being a 48-year-old woman, I have to pee every 30 minutes, so you can bet I’m writing scorchingly fast to make it to the next bathroom break; but if this isn’t the case for you, try quaffing a couple glasses of water before sitting down at your laptop.”
Many writers such as Bamidele Onibalusi, CEO of WritersInCharge, use standing desks or running machines while writing to force themselves to ignore distractions and finish their assignments quickly before they get exhausted.
In August 2016, it took me about two weeks of daily work to write my first 1,200-word blog post (no lie). Yesterday, July the 14th, after less than a year of writing consistently (one article plus per week), I was able to write a post with the same word count in only five hours.
The more content you write, the better and faster you write, and ultimately you’ll earn more.
Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.
– Actor Dwayne Johnson
Do you have any other ideas to find and make time to write? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!