Finding the time to write requires figuring out, over time, what is a good investment of your time and what is not. Here is what I have found:
- Trying to write for a publication or contest because it either pays well or the entry is free when you have no interest in the topic, theme, or publication itself, will take more time than writing two pieces you are passionate about for a publication you read. For example, there was a national women’s magazine on which the short story topic was, “What is the bravest thing you have ever done?” When I saw the previous years’ winning entries–serving in Afghanistan and other equally courageous things–I thought, well, I got my wisdom teeth pulled without being put under. Pass.
- Don’t write for LinkedIn on a regular basis unless you write boring, “businessy” articles/listicles as passionless as cooking without love, implementing lingo like analytics, logistics, and statistics (okay, sometimes stats can be sexy), I don’t write articles for LinkedIn, but if something I’ve written is appropriate for the platform, I’ll post it on LinkedIn Pulse. Whatever you do, don’t post part of the article, and then require people to click on your blog link to read the rest.
- Keep virtual clutter to a minimum. Delete bookmarks you will never use, e-mails you will never read again, etc.
- Don’t have more than one account on any social networking site. I tried to have both an author Twitter account and a fictional character Twitter account. A lot of time was spent signing in and out, and sometimes, I’d get the two crossed. I had the character account for a year-and-a-half, and have been repurposing the tweets for my Fiction Fridays series, just as the micropoetry I used to write for Twitter daily ended up becoming my Micropoetry Monday series, so you could say my stint on Twitter helped me become a regular blogger (versus a sporadic one).
- Keep track of what you write. I have a master list of pieces I’ve written (with keywords for easy look-up), and where I have submitted each. I’ve written so much poetry, I’ve had to divide it up into “anthologies.” (Submittable is good for keeping track, but not every publication uses it.)
- Plan for writing contests a year in advance. That way you never miss a deadline and you’re always submitting quality work.
- Have a submission schedule for the publications you write for on a regular basis. You don’t want to overload a publication with submissions, because they might think you’re just using the “kitchen-sink theory” (throwing everything at them and seeing what they’ll take). For example, the fifteenth of every month, I submit a poem to a certain publication I adore–one I’ve been published in before.
- Twitter is a colossal waste of time, though I still have all my blog posts auto-post, adding the hashtags separately. There are too many expectations of reciprocity–you need true fans, not just those who follow to get a follow back. You need readers who aren’t also writers.
- Be selective with what television programs you watch. I only watch a couple a week, and maybe a couple of movies. Every once in awhile, I’ll binge-watch a television show, but time watching TV is time not writing. Don’t watch something because you’re bored; write something, for writing is doing.
- Read. You need to read everyday (not just blog posts, even like this one), but the kind of slow reading that draws you in). I’ve gotten into reading pieces on The Saturday Evening Post’s website. I’m enjoying what I’m reading, and at the same time, getting a better idea of what they go for.