One of the hardest things about writing a novel, I've found, is sustaining the creative output for the long haul. It's a little like weight loss or, I've heard, training for a marathon (I've participated in weight loss efforts but haven't run a marathon). Each day brings its challenges in the form of one's day job, family responsibilities, and plain and simple exhaustion. Time management skills that one learned in school suddenly become all-important because without it, we can lose entire weeks watching television or farting around on the internet with no word count to show for it.
If I were to pick one of my favorite tools, it would be the "30/30" method. Here's how it works:
You need a digital timer, ideally. If you don't have one, you can purchase one at retailers like Target in the kitchen section. If you have a smart phone, you can use the alarm function on it.
Set the timer for 30 minutes and, during that time, brainstorm all the things that you want to get done - whether or not they'll fit into your day, regardless of whether you want to do them - just get everything in one place to start. And don't worry - you can add and delete stuff on this master task list as you need to.
When the timer dings, or rings, or sings at you, or buzzes, or any of a hundred other alerts, stop. Step back and get yourself some coffee, tea, or ice water and relax. Set the timer for another 30 minutes and this is your "Off" time - time for you to fart around online or play video games or whatever other relaxing task you enjoy (try knitting).
When the timer dings, focus on one thing on your list. The idea here is to pick the most important - "important" as in, time-sensitive or something you don't get to focus on or, worse, procrastinate over (i.e., your writing). Don't worry about doing more than 30 minutes. All we're after right now is a focused 30 minutes - that's easy, right? You don't have to write the whole novel in one sitting; just write what will fit in 30 minutes.
Ding! Turn the timer off and relax for 30. Have a snack. Read a book. Do something rewarding. In this way, you can while away an entire weekend day and at the end of it, have a lot to show for it!
What's your favorite productivity tool?
And, so you're not dying with suspense, here is the blurb for TIGER TIGER for you to enjoy. We hope you like reading it as much as we did writing it!