The Right Time to Write

Authors struggle daily and on-going to live a full life and to find the time to write. I have sat in on several workshops covering ways to solve this puzzle. Lucky for me, I never think I have it right. I keep sitting in on more and more lectures. That’s why I zipped down to the early meeting where author Rick Ochocki explained how he does it. Plan and Manage Your Writing Time.

Like me, Rick has been to a lot of different workshops and so on about this topic. Another RWA-SD member and author, Kitty Bucholtz, teaches something similar and Rick borrowed items from her. He also picked up information from the book, Time Management for Dummies.


Rick Ochocki wearing a kilt


A little about Rick, he’s married and he’s a veteran. Every November during National November Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) he writes the first draft of his books. He also spends lots of time working with veterans, because November is National Veterans Month. He is committed to daily exercise, usually running 3 miles. And there’s all sorts of holidays going on. He finds it challenging to get to see his wife during that time, and that’s why he has a list for everything.


Kitty Bucholtz teaching.


Here are the basics of the scheme:

1. Keep a Master Task List. Keep it in one place and carry it at all times. Rick recommends Work Flowy dot com. I love reading the customer feedback quotes on their page. Workflowy used Workflowy to build Workflowy. You create an account and download the app. Then you can keep your list on your phone. You have lists within lists and bullet points. Rick created different lists for Work, Writing, and Personal. But if he were to do it again, he says he would do one Master List and make sublists for the other categories.

He makes notes on paper when he is away from home and updates the list every night. You can make updates on your phone, but check it on line at the end of the day. The information doesn’t always transfer. The tutorials are easy to understand so be sure to watch them. And the information can be exported to Word.

2. NaNo Novel System. As soon as he has finished the first draft of the NaNo novel on November 30, Rick starts thinking about the next book. Sure, he’s still got to edit the draft and present it to critique groups. But there’s still time to work on the new idea. He makes bullet point ideas like:

  • Woman falls for single father
  • Man worried children won’t like woman
  • They live in Florida
  • A hurricane brings them together

And so on. He hopes to have 30 or more such points by November 1st. And really, getting your book written is worth putting your life on hold for one month. Get your exercise in early. You know, before your brain realizes what you are doing.


3. Time Management for Dummies. Okay, I told Rick and I will tell you, I have a philosophical objection to buying anything “For Dummies”. Luckily there’s a PDF version online. whew!

Rick still refers to the book and it still is relevant even though it was published last century. I guess I will see if there’s anything I can use, not being a dummy and all.

4. Google Calendar and Task List. If you put a date on your Google task list, it will put it on your Google calendar (what do you mean, you don’t have a Google Calendar? I’ve got like 5 versions of it! Get with the program). You can color code your appointments and tasks and even share the calendar with the love of you life. But be careful, that loved one might just share in return and you will be so confused about who is doing what to whom and when, you may come to the conclusion to just share a few things that involve the two of you. Or three or more of you. No judgment here.

Rick’s color system is basic. Blue for Writing because he loves blue and he loves to write. Red for anything urgent. Green for activities outside. Yellow for Sure Would Be Nice to Find Time to Do This.


5. NaNo word count tracking form. When he finished NaNo last year, one of his rewards was a dry erase board with a calendar so he could track his word count. It’s so cool. Hope they offer it this year, because I am so winning it.

6. The Formula. I am not a maths person and I don’t even write about any. Cause numbers. Blech. But Rick has two rules that apply to writing time. A. Everything takes longer than you think. B. Everything is harder than you expect. So here goes.

X = Least number of words you can write in an hour

Y = Average number

Z = Highest number

So if you write 200 words in an hour, X will be 200, Y will be 500, and Z will be 1000. X + 4xY + Z /6 is the formula. 200 plus 1000 plus 1000 equals 2200, divided by 6 equals (rounding up) 367. You can average 367 words per hour. You can do more some days. You may do less now and then.

This formula is helpful to determine the time it will take for any task that you don’t do often and don’t really know how long it will take. That’s what they tell me.

7. Mini Writers Camp. If you know there are writers like you who live near you, plan to meet with them at a coffee shop or similar place. Give yourself 5 minutes to chat and catch up, then heads down, no talking, just keep typing. No interruptions when in Story World. (This is a Nice if you can work it out Task for me)


8. Write Every Day. Put it on your calendar and your task list. This is not negotiable. Just do it.

There you have it. Now you can organize your whole world and get that book finished. If only I could find time to get things organized, there’d be no stopping me. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.


2 thoughts on “The Right Time to Write

  1. Great blog post, Demi!

    I think your recap was better than my original presentation. And I appreciate today’s reminder to update my workflowy list before I call it a night.

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