"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Saturday, June 7, 2014

What Every Writer Should Know About Time

"Hold on to your door handle. I'm gonna' try to make this light up ahead," she said to me.
I honestly don't know which speed was greater--that of the accelerating car, or the palpitations of my heart.

My friend was running late. Again. This time for a Sunday morning service at church, where she was scheduled to be on the program. And I got more than I bargained for.

Producing as much adrenaline as an amusement park ride, she did it. We beat the traffic light, in spite of my protests.

She giggled at her death-defying moves, and thought I was being way too concerned about our safety. After all, she's done it before.

Although she is a dear person, whose friendship I value, I'm often on the receiving end of her tardiness, lack of planning, and "adjustments" to compensate for trying to fit everything in.

Unfortunately, she's one of those folks who views time with a distorted lens.
Perhaps you're the same way.

Here's something to consider...

How we value time says a lot about what we "value."
Though it's hard to place a value on intangibles, time is important.
It can add or detract from our quality of life.
And as writers, it's crucial that we manage it well, in order to reach our creative goals, realize our full potential, and not cheat those who deserve our best--be it our families, clients, or our readers.
Wouldn't you agree?

For me, this keen awareness results from the number of people I've known to die in their "prime" or completely unexpectedly. Sometimes due to a random act of violence; other times for health reasons. And sometimes for no "logical" reason that the mind can truly grasp.
Time is not promised.

A dear friend of mine, (Robin Williams) was a perfect example.
We met some years ago when she took a creative class I taught at a community center.
She was extremely bright, articulate, and held a day job as an English teacher.
We evolved into friends, and I had the pleasure of working with her to see some of her pieces published.

To make a long story short, like many folks, she and I lost contact, as our lives got busy and priorities changed. One day out of the blue, I got an email from her, to which I responded.
I promised to call her the next day to catch up, as we exchanged numbers again via email.

The next day, I got an email from one of her relatives stating she died during the night.
I was heart broken.
She left this world with so much promise. So much potential. So many dreams.
We lost a great talent in her. A voice worth hearing.

This serves as a reminder of just how precious and unpredictable life truly is.
In fact, even the Bible addresses the importance of time in various verses and chapters.

With this in mind, I'd like to share a few principles and practices to help you to govern yours more wisely.

1. Recognize that time is a commodity.
For best results, it should be "budgeted" just like money.

2. Do it right the first time.
Devote adequate time and attention to projects on the front-end, to avoid do overs and wasted effort.

3. Stop procrastinating.
"Some day" may never come. Make the most of each day. Check out the Procrastiwriter site for useful tips and tools.

4. Learn to work in conjunction with your body and peak performance times.
Are you an owl or a lark? Assess and address.

5. Recognize that being "busy" is not the same as being productive.
If your creative efforts on any given day don't result in a new client, more followers for your blog, breaking into a new market, finishing a chapter of your book, or increasing your bottom line, you may need a reality check. Should you really be spending 2 hours on Facebook or Twitter every 24 hours? Hello?

6. Seek balance.
Work hard, but play hard too. It will enable you to go the distance.

7. Use your "down time" wisely.
Whether it's waiting for your doctor's appointment, standing in line at the grocers, or your lunch break on your gig. Pen a poem. Read a "how-to" blog post. Write out your goals for next month.
Every little step can move you ahead in your writing journey.

8. Take care of your health.
Although it doesn't "guarantee" longevity, it can definitely increase the odds for a greater lifespan.

9. Learn to prioritize properly.
In these hectic times, it can seem impossible to get everything done within 24 hours. Which is why we need to look at things from a strategic perspective, identifying those tasks on our "to-do list" that are of the greatest importance.

10. Become an early riser.
You'd be amazed at how it can add to your level of productivity and enhance your functioning.
I rise with the birds.

Socrates said it best, "The unexamined life is not worth living."
When you look at yours, as it relates to how you spend your time as a writer, what does it say?

Which tip resonates with you?


  1. Being "busy" versus being "productive" is a great reminder, Jennifer. Too often, we say we're too busy to write, when in reality, we're not THAT busy. We could--in reality--squeeze in some writing.

    Thanks for the post. (And I'm sorry about your friend Robin.)

    1. True, right? :-) Thanks so much for the feedback, Sioux...and for your kindness regarding my friend.

  2. Besides having experience working in the fast paced Music (Entertainment) Business, I also worked - among other things - as a Mini Lab Operator, in a One Hour Photo Shop. As you can imagine, it helped me to become pretty time conscious, and skilled at juggling with time.

    Since I do find time management an interesting topic, and also understand the importance of Seeking balance, some time ago I read an interesting book about Stress Free Productivity

    To my surprise it did provide me with some new insights in thinking about time management. (you can actually read a Book Review I wrote about it.)

    1. H.P.,

      You have an interesting background. :-) Thanks for giving me the 4-1-1 on that book; I'll have to check it out.

  3. This is an excellent reminder, and one I needed today. I agree; time is something we cannot recapture, and my aim is to "redeem the time" I am given on this earth. Busy and productive, yes, there is a big difference, that's for sure.

    My younger sister passed away nearly 4 years ago, something my other sisters and family were not expecting. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, so it's best to make the most of today, and cherish our loved ones along the way.

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksJune 11, 2014 at 5:46 AM


      Glad this resonated with you. I remember when that happened with your sister; I prayed for your peace. Wendy, was that her name? Thanks so much for adding to the mix today. Have a productive week. :-)

  4. Jen, Just love this post. So important to understand time and it's limits. We all need to re-evaluate on a regular basis. Is it worth the time? A crucial question to be asked often. Thanks for this one!

    1. Thanks, Sue. Glad you made the "time" to stop by and weigh in. :-)