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  • Writer's pictureSheri McGuinn

Tracking Your Time

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

Unless you’re writing just for yourself, writing is not just writing. There are a host of other activities that use your time as well, especially if you’re self-publishing. I got to a point where I felt like I wasn’t actually writing nearly enough, so I designed a spreadsheet to monitor my writing and writing-related activities.

This has had two benefits.

It’s gotten me into the habit of keeping my daily planner at hand and marking the time actually spent on an activity as I finish and go on to something else. This is keeping me accountable. It’s made me see how my time is actually used each day and what I’ve accomplished each week.

Most weeks, I’m spending about twenty hours writing and revising work. That includes blogs and promotional work as well as my books, scripts, and short stories because the promo work needs the same skills and attention to be effective. At first, I was going to separate new writing from revisions, but realistically, writing is re-writing and it’s more important to polish a work thoroughly than to rush on to the next.

I’m also spending about twenty hours each week on critique groups—the actual meetings and pre-reading others’ work. I currently work with several groups, three of which require pre-reading material. The time pre-reading other people’s work is my payment for the critique they give me. Even if I make enough to hire an editor, I’ll probably continue participating in critique groups because the multiple points of view provide rich feedback in the developmental stage and I learn from reading and participating in the critique of their work as well.

Finally, I spend up to twenty hours a week on research, routine business (website maintenance, emails, etc.), new business (queries, submissions, etc.), general networking (writer’s meetings, conferences, workshops, etc.), and assorted other activities related to publishing and marketing. I’d like to cut back on this and will, when I can afford to hire competent people to do parts of it.

Yes, that adds up to sixty hours a week. Do I do this every week? No. After two or three weeks hitting that mark, I’ll have a couple slow weeks. However, even when I feel like I’m being lazy, I find I’m doing writing-related activities about forty hours a week. I’m planning to take some “vacation” time over the holidays and it’ll be interesting to see how much time is still spent on writing activities.

I’d like to make a living from my writing, so it’s only reasonable to work as much at writing as I used to as a teacher who did prep and paperwork evenings and weekends.

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