Here are some tried and true tips and time management tools I use that may help ease the symptoms of Attention Deficit Writing Dilemma:
Calendars: Keep an at-a-glance monthly calendar in plain sight with all your projects recorded on the days you plan to work on them. Choose the same day each week to write out the coming week’s day-to-day writing activities, breaking down specific tasks for each project for the particular day you plan to work on them. It is advisable not to plan too far ahead. (A one-week notice is sufficient for the muses.) The calendars are comparable in importance as the outline might be to the general writer.
Sticky Notes: Keep a Post-it or two inside the cover of current books that you are reading in order to jot down ideas that come from the Book Muse. Some electronic readers have note-taking features.
The Pensieve: Keep a notebook. This is Writer’s 101. Having a pen and pad of paper close at hand to jot down those wonderful ideas that come flying at you in all weather is key to focus and feeling in control. Or if you are not the pen and paper type of writer, try using a notebook app that can be found on most smartphones. One of the worst things in a writer’s life is having a great idea and then having it drop off the radar. Notebooks are our memory keepers. (It worked for Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter novels.)
Recording Device: Speak into a recording app. This is similar to the pensieve, but for the auditory-processor writer. It is a great hands-free tool to use while walking, biking, driving, skydiving, etc.
End Goals: Set end goals. Since creating goals isn’t the issue, use highlighters to mark specific end dates on your calendars. You may want to break down your end goals into smaller increments such as chapter end goals, etc. It may also be more realistic and productive to have a floating final deadline that becomes permanent at a later date. Caution: Before you set your end goals, be generous with your time-expectation because life will get in the way. And remember to review these end goals frequently during your writing; adjust accordingly.
Writing Groups: Join a community of writers or start one. Your writing peers will keep you motivated to finish your writing projects because there will be a huge incentive for you to write particularly when you are held accountable for copy and someone else’s time. It is like having a boss (maybe several) and a boss’s expectation of proper time management (deadlines), as well. Also, belonging to more than one writing group might be keen for those writers who write in several genres. It may be easier to manage your many projects if they correspond to a particular writing group. Be advised that this added feature on your calendar may require more of your time management skill and time away from writing as you will have more meetings to attend and more bosses to encourage your output and demand feedback for their work, too.
Forums: Participate in an online forum. Your fellow Toasted Cheese writers, forum hosts, and editors would love to hear from you and/or see what you are working on. And the perks of the online forum venue is that one never has to worry about apparel or leave one’s comfort zone in order to attend.
Practice: Keep in practice. You know what they say about practice… If you would like to test this theory out on a small scale, why not try writing an article, a poem, a story or, perhaps, a review for Toasted Cheese? The journal is quarterly, which allows for a generous amount of time and space to write something truly wonderful—a professional and published piece that you can share with all your family, your friends, and your colleagues who may not even know that you are a writer. The editors at Toasted Cheese will support you with advice and encouragement along your journey, cheering when you submit.
Note: These A Pen In Each Hand exercises can be used individually or together, depending on need. There are no instructions on frequency. However, they each contain one important feature not mentioned in their descriptions: Consistency. They must become habits in order for the writer to extract their benefits. For when a writer is constant in habit, whether it is keeping to a strict calendar or schedule, being prepared for inspiration to strike, or regularly attending a writing group, that writer becomes a constant-writer who writes consistently and as direct result, produces finished copy continuously.