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Freelance Writers Need Top Time Management Skills

By Expert Author: Ralph Brooks

When I was surfing the Internet one day I came across a comment from a new freelancer writer that said it took two or three days for her to write a short article. "How can I increase my output?" she asked.
"Write more," the webmaster advised. He knew that experience leads to efficiency and writing speed and I understood his sage advice.
I've been a freelancer for 35+ years and during this time I've learned how to manage my time efficiently. For me, every day is a writing day, and I categorize my work. Before I start work in the morning (sometimes as early as 5 a.m.), I determine which category a task fits best. My categories are: 1) contacting publishers; 2) work in progress; 3) resume updates; 4) basic research; and 5) industry updates. If I need an extra category I add it
Depending on what you write, your categories may be similar to mine or quite different.Experience has taught me that I should write new copy in the morning when I am fresh and energized. In the afternoon I proofread and try to keep up with the book business, a job in itself.
After I have identified the category, I estimate the time a task will require. Indexing a book, for example, takes far more time than writing a chapter. I do not use an indexing program, I use the "look at the topics on each page" system. Admittedly, this is a slow process, but it works for me because I use so many medical terms.
If necessary, I divide a large task into smaller parts. Indexing is a good example. Part one would be determining the index words and listing them in correct alphabetical order. Part two would be inserting all research authors' names into my index. Checking my alphabetizing would be part three. Finally, I get to the last phase of indexing, checking the page numbers.
Estimating how much time a task will take is also part of my time management. Thanks to experience, I'm pretty good at estimating how long a task will take, but sometimes I am surprised. If a small part of a job is taking far longer than estimated, I change my work schedule.
Writing a query letter always takes more time than I estimate. There is a fine line between being confident and being obnoxious and I can spend lots of time on word choices. One-page query letters work best for me and this means I have to sell myself in a few words, a hard task for any writer.
The last tip I have for you is "go with the flow." Last week I finished a book and I wrote it in record time -- five weeks. I was able to do this because I became obsessed with the book and turned out more than 10,000 words a week. I was also able to do this because I am a hard task-master when it comes to time management.
What are your time-management skills? Have you set categories for tasks? Do you divide large projects into smaller parts? Most important of all, do you take advantage of those times when the words come so quickly you can hardly keep up with them? If you write regularly and manage your time, you will be successful. You can truthfully say, "I'm a writer."

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