Well, since I was in a slight hurry before I wrote this article, I thought that I’d give you a few tips about how to manage your time so that you can get a decent amount of writing and/or art done within a particular time.
1) Short segments: If you’re working on a written project, then it’s a good idea to break it down into smaller segments (eg: chapters, groups of paragraphs, numbers of words, short stories etc…). Likewise, if you’re making art, then it’s a good idea to limit the size of the drawings or paintings that you’re making to a consistent pre-decided size.
The reason for this is that, after a bit of experience, you’ll have a fairly good idea of how long it will take you to complete one of these small segments.
For example, it usually takes me 30-90 minutes to make an 18 x19cm watercolour painting (usually averaging out at about an hour). Likewise, it takes me roughly the same amount of time to write one of these non-fiction articles.
The reason why I’m mentioning all of this stuff is because it can help you with planning your time accordingly. If you’re the kind of person who hates to leave things unfinished (or, rather, abandons most of the things they leave unfinished) then this can also help you work out whether to start writing or drawing something at a particular time too.
2) Pre-plan ideas: Although I rarely do this for my paintings, one of the things I often do with these articles is to jot down a list of ideas in a notebook when I’m feeling more inspired. The advantage of this is that, on days when I can’t think of what to write about – I only have to look in my notebook to find an idea for that particular day.
Likewise, if you write short fiction, then it might be worth keeping a list of short story ideas nearby (that you came up with when you were feeling very inspired) that you can use on the days when you’ve got writer’s block.
With creative things and some non-fiction things, working out exactly what you’re going to do can take up a surprising amount of time. So, keeping a supply of pre-made ideas nearby can be a very useful way to make sure that you get the most out of your time.
3) Allow for distractions (or don’t): This one depends a lot on you, but some people work better with certain types of distractions and some people work best with no distractions.
Knowing your own preferences with regard to this will help you to work quickly and enthusiastically. The wrong kinds of distraction can eat up a lot of your time and the right kinds of distractions can help you create more quickly and efficiently.
For me, listening to music and occasionally reading random things online can be a valuable way of keeping up my enthusiasm when I’m writing. Likewise, when I’m making art, I’ll often watch DVDs (listening via headphones and with the subtitles on in case I miss a line of dialogue because I’m thinking about my painting). These are what I consider to be productive distractions, because they’re something interesting and they require no active input from me. They’re useful “background noise” that, paradoxically, helps me to focus.
However, if – say- someone was foolish enough to start a conversation with me when I’m writing, then I’m probably going to be fairly short with them. For me, at least, social things take up a huge amount of mental energy, as well as breaking up my current chain of thought. So, I try to ensure that I do as much of my writing and painting alone as possible.
4) Simplify: This might sound counter-intuitive, but it’s often best to go for simplicity if you’re worried about time. As long as something is done well, then it usually doesn’t matter how complex the language is or how detailed the artwork is.
Plus, one of the other advantages of going for simplicity is that you can always add more detail later if you have time. The most important thing with any creative work is to actually finish the damn thing. This should be your main focus and you should devote the bulk of your time to doing this. After all, you can always edit something later if you have time, but you can’t finish something if you don’t have time.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂