A Writer’s Time – Ken Atchity

I’ve read many books about how to write and this remains
one of my favorites. He covers not only time management tactics, but also
creativity management, which is crucial.

I recently found this page of notes that I wrote to
myself as a quick review of my favorite points of the book. I’m presenting it
here to give you an idea of the scope, but to really dig into his strategies
for managing yourself as a write, I recommend you read the whole book. (He has
a good style, you’ll enjoy it!)

A Writer’s Time: Making the Time to Write

Also I didn’t make it all the way through the book with
my transcription of my notes, so there’s a lot more content that’s not covered

“During the next year or the next few years, plan to
lay the foundation for your writing career. Immerse yourself in the planning
process and build the foundation, and take your satisfaction from the doing of
it, not from the having done it. The poet, e.e. cummings reminds us, cares not
for things made but only for the making. Your career, you’ll discover, will
take the shape of your foundation.” (p. xv)

Ray Bradbury says: “Start writing more, it’ll get
rid of all those moods you’re having.” (p.1)

“Writing is a craft. A craft not only can be
learned, it must be learned.” p.2

“So you begin by recognizing that anxiety comes with
the profession of writing: how you manage your anxiety becomes a mark of
distinction…” p.3

“In coping with the anxiety known as “writer’s
block,” one of the first rules is: Never sit down to write unless you know
what you’re going to write.” p.4

crucial to adopt the rule of not writing until you’re ready to write. Doing
otherwise creates a massive negative reinforcement which, if it accumulates
over days and years, can be fatal to your writing.” p.7

Steps p.16 (mind moves through – not to enforce):

  1. Dream
  2. Doodling
  3. Assembly
  4. Gestation
  5. Agenda
  6. Vacation
  7. First Draft
  8. Vacation
  9. Focused Gestation
  10. Agenda for Revision
  11. Revision
  12. Product

“The time you find for writing is the most valuable
time of your life because it belongs to no one but you. … The immortality
associated with writing lies in the writer’s daily visit to an internal
eternity.” p. 26

“Work is infinite; time is finite. Therefore you
must manage your time and not your work. Work expands to fill whatever time is
allotted to it. If your work is successful it generates more work; as a result,
the concept of “finishing your work” is a contradiction in terms to
blatant and dangerous that it can lead to nervous breakdowns-because it puts
the pressures on the wrong places in your mind and habits….

Instead of trying to finish your work, you need merely
find time to do your work; then simply concentrate on doing it the best you
can. The satisfaction will come from knowing that each day you’ve allotted time
for the work you love, the work you want to do.” p.28-29

Don’t wander through your life thinking gloomy
stuff.  “Program activities in
the mind before it’s time to do them and you’ll discover that doing them
becomes easier and infinitely more productive.” p.34

“You’ll need to identify your concentration span for
each activity you undertake. This is the only way to find the exact, productive
compartments of time for particular projects. How long at one time can you give
your absolute and undivided attention to writing a novel?… You need to be sure
because it is counterproductive to stay at your desk beyond your attention
span. Bad habits build up immense negative reinforcement …. Knowing the
moment to quit is the key to reorganizing your writing time.” p.35

Stop while you still want to continue and set up a
linkage for the next time you’re going to sit down and write.

“The professional, productive writer concentrates on
a number of projects-getting them out, one at a time, and paying attention to
the one at hand-letting time handle most of the editing and most of the
marketing and, ideally, all the worry. Letting time do most of the work is the
real secret of productive people. They start things going down the right
tracks, and let time’s engineering bring the train to its destination.”