Monday, November 16, 2009

Finding Time to Write

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting guest bloggers. These wonderful people all helped me when I was researching an article which now appears on the Writing World web site. (

The first person to visit is Poetry writer and editor of The Centrifugal Eye, Eve Hanninen. (

"I write full-time and part-time, depending on my editing schedule for the magazine, and many tasks often overlap. Sometimes my writing is not for me.

Per week:
writing - avg. 25-50 hrs
editing - avg. 30-80 hrs
networking - 10 hrs or more
marketing - avg. 1-10 hrs
queries - 1-2
research - avg. 2.5-10 hrs

"For me, this is a typical "by needs" schedule, based on the features and regular requirements dealing with editing and writing for the magazine. My personal projects and freelance editing (also freelance artwork) require flexibility, and I gauge hours spent based on routine writing and editing. I try to work on personal projects 2-3 times a week, and market my work during slower mag sub-reading periods; 1-4 of my own sub packages go out per quarter, typically.

"To even start to be organized as a writer, I think writing has to be thought of as a job first, before a creative venture. Most people take having a job seriously. They set their alarms and adhere to a schedule.

"Clearly marked files (whether in a file cabinet or on a hard drive) help keep research materials, notes and manuscripts in order. I use several calendars pinned to the wall next to my desk to jot writing and editing tasks on (make sure the daily spaces are big enough to write down at least 5 or 6 tasks per day!), and I try to adhere to the calendars' schedules as closely as possible -- making sure to cross off what I accomplish.

"I also re-establish writing priorities almost everyday, making sure to choose the most important task first, in terms of deadlines, desired results, compensation, to complete. And then the second, and so on.

"Writing more specific and detailed lists often help me greatly. It helps me to sort out what smaller activities are necessary to get past before the larger ones can be completed.

"Notebooks and lots of pens or pencils nearby the usual work area, if you have one (and I recommend having one -- it reinforces the "going to work" attitude) are a must, but also in key areas around the house (or other workplace) for those ahHA moments.

"Also keep track of all correspondence with care, as good records of contacts make your other writing jobs more streamlined. And keep a notebook or binder that lists all pertinent information about your submissions to publishers and journals! You may be surprised to hear how many longtime writers keep poor records of submission. As and editor, I run into this issue all the time! Dates, journal and editors' names, article or poem titles, whether simultaneous submissions or reprint rights offered -- all these things in one place avert time-consuming letters and emails about duplications and other problems which probably won't arise if you're keeping good records."

Eve Hanninen

Thanks, Eve!


  1. Organized. Sigh. What a wonderful word. I try. I set aside at least 2 hours a day for my writing. That's not nearly enough, but all that other stuff eats away at the day. Someday...

    Great post, Penny. Some good ideas, I'll try.


  2. Bev, thanks for stopping by. Glad you found some good ideas. I know I've learned a lot. Be sure to stop by again to see what some of the other guest writers have to say about this.

  3. Your writing gives me a sense of your energy. I feel energised and enthused after reading it.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Jeanne, thanks for stopping by and commenting.