Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Finding Time to Write - Day 2

Day 2 of my series of guest bloggers. Today, Devon Ellington, ( multi-talented, full-time, professional writer is sharing her thoughts on how to be an organized writer.

"I write full time, although I still make the occasional foray into
backstage Broadway work, if something good's offered.

"I devote as many hours per day to each aspect of the writing business as
possible, dependent on deadlines and payment. The earliest deadline with
the highest payment gets first priority. Deadlines are reshuffled as
necessary. I usually spend a full eight hour day on my work -- more if
necessary, less if it's appropriate.

"It has to be WRITTEN before it can be edited or marketed or anything else,
so the writing comes first. I do my first 1K of fiction at the very
beginning of the day, after my yoga, but before I do anything else, and
then I see what's due when and figure out the rest of my day.

"The beauty of it is that I get to structure each day as it needs to be
structured. I'm not stuck in a 9-5 rut. If I want to take off a day, I
do. If I want to take a trip, or spend a day researching rather than
haunting job boards and prepping queries, I do.

"The less structure I have, the more large swaths of uninterrupted work time
I have, the more productive I am.

"The amount of time spent each day depends on what's on the current roster.
Social networking is the thing to fall by the wayside first. Research,
queries, marketing is all dependent on what's due when, what has release
dates, what are the long term projects, what are the short-term projects,
and figuring out how to slot everything in each day to get it all done.

"(It helps if) you take the time up front to set up systems. Once a system that works for
you is in place, it's quite easy to pull what you need for whatever work
you're doing.

"For instance, at the top of every year, I set up a pitch log and a
submission log, so that I can keep track of pitches and submissions, track
payments, track pub dates, and see what needs follow-up. I took the time
to set up an invoice form. I create a clip file for each article as it is
published, both electronically and as hard copies, so if I need to use them
for other pitches, I don't have to hunt them down. I set up files for new
projects as they're created or the contracts are signed.

"I don't throw out the research files as soon as the book or article is
finished, because usually I write again on the same topic, and why do all
the research again?

"It should take 15 minutes to put together a sparkling pitch with relevant
clips. If you're constantly taking an hour or two to hunt down
information, you lose billable time, you get discouraged because of the
wasted time, you wind up not pitching as often, and you don't land as many
well-paying jobs.

"When you find that the system you've set up doesn't work for you, you
change it.

"If you put it aside to do "tomorrow", you wind up with piles of paper on
your desk and around it, and you can't find anything. I still have too
many unfiled papers on and around my desk, but I've gotten much better
about setting up the systems and tracking everything, and the payoff has
reflected financially and emotionally in the quality of the work.

"I don't have the luxury of writer's block. I just sit down and do it."

Devon Ellington

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Devon.


  1. Incredibly informative post! These are great tips whether you're a full-time or part-time writer. Thanks, Devon and Penny!

  2. Thanks, Vanessa. I'm glad you found these tips useful.

  3. Devon & Penny,
    This was a very helpful post. I have to try these tips in hopes that they'll help me! Thanks!
    Deb :-)

  4. Deb, thanks for stopping by. Devon certainly knows how to keep organized.

  5. This was inspiring Devon. Thanks for the info. I'll take a second look at my systems.

  6. Jeanne, thanks for commenting. Devon keeps so busy, she needs to be organized!

  7. Thanks so much for hosting me, Penny! It was fun!

  8. Devon, thanks for being my guest. You shared some great tips.