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The Creative Person’s Guide to Time Management

By Judy Christie

As a writer, I am drawn to creative people-smart, funny, interesting, innovative, imaginative. I am blessed to interact with fiction writers who explore and imagine and adapt to a dizzying rate of change, a combination that clogs schedules faster than a plateful of spaghetti can clog a drain (don’t ask how I know this).

Sometimes we writers give up creative activities because we are too busy-such as during this jammed back-to-school season. Or, we let that nagging negative voice in our minds convince us that our project is just not that important or good, unworthy of our time and attention.

With eight novel published, I have observed that writing projects-even though they are creative and personal–take planning and organization, similar to the skills used in business.

As people of imagination, we often see ideas and plans outgrow our calendars. We may feel as though we never do anything as well as hoped. We sacrifice sleep and fitness and nutrition in the name of writing. We juggle the balls of putting words on paper, marketing, bookkeeping and more. On top of that we pile church and community, family responsibilities and logistics of daily life.

This is not the way it should be.

Consider these steps to manage time as a creative person:

Focus on what gives you energy–because in this energy you are likely using your God-given gifts to touch the world.

Assess what’s most important, remembering that a long list of priorities is really just a to-do list. Narrow down activities only you can do or that will have the biggest payoff for you and your writing.

Remember writing fiction is about more than work. It is about creative relationships-with readers, fellow writers, agents, editors and more. It’s also about enjoying this life we’ve been given-opening room for our writing talents to flourish.

For everything you gain, you will probably have to give something up. You can’t do it all. Use that creative mind to make tough decisions about what goes away.

As a creative type, you could write 24 hours day, 7 days a week. Set a workable schedule for projects. You lose effectiveness if you stretch writing hours later each day, into every weekend, giving up vacations and days off—and snapping at your friends and family.

Exercise. This is a proven stress reducer and creativity builder, but it’s one of the first things to fall off busy people’s schedules. Start small, if you have not been exercising, but start somewhere, even a walk around the block. This is a wonderful tool to help come up with ideas.

Rest. You cannot go full tilt all the time and be creative and content with life and work.

How about you? What works best as you manage your time as a creative person? I’d love to hear your comments.

Magnolia MarketJudy Christie writes fiction with a Louisiana flavor and loves visiting on her old green couch. Her 8th novel, “Magnolia Market,” releases next month from Zondervan. Publisher’s Weekly calls it “a delightful tale that entices readers with the aroma of biscuits, romance and new starts.” For more info, see www.judychristie.com.

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