Monday, October 6, 2014

Another Week in the Life of an Editor 3 : Time Management

I've been growing my editing business for the past three years, and I've seen an obvious increase in business in 2014. So much so that my personal writing has fallen to the wayside as I've worked to encourage others in their writing dreams. Although I've been grateful for the business and enjoyed working with my clients, it's been a year of all work and hardly any play.

So how does one find a balance between editing and writing, or editing and home life, or editing and ... well, anything else you'd like to schedule into your calendar?

Here are a few things I've come to realize or had to consider in the past few months as I plan for the future of my career:

1. It's important to prioritize, no matter what career path you've chosen. For me, priorities look like this: God, Family, Work, the rest of life. I make sure to take time each morning to spend focused on the Lord. I rarely check e-mails and Facebook over the weekend, since that's when our family is spending time together. I also try to make sure my work is finished (or close to finished) by 3:00 in the afternoon, since that's when my kids are released from school. If I'm on deadline for something, that will be an exception, but I refuse to make that the norm. It would be so easy to keep working and ignore everything and everyone else around me, but I want God and my family to know they are most important to me. What are your priorities? Set your schedule accordingly. Let your clients know your work hours so they don't wonder why you haven't responded to the e-mail they sent you Saturday morning.

2. Which leads me to the next thing I've realized this year. It's very difficult for me to get things done when the kids are home. I have a hard time concentrating on the details of a novel when the kids are arguing over the video games or consistently interrupting my workday with fifty questions or reminders about things I said a month ago. I've decided that next year (and the years to follow), I will only take on smaller projects or mentoring clients during June, July, November, and December. These are the months that my schedule goes into overload with family plans. What months become cluttered for you? Consider taking on smaller projects or taking time off during these months. You can always take on more projects during the rest of the year to make up for any income you may lose during these months.

3. You will notice that some months are quieter than others. For instance, during conference season, my schedule packs full. Not only am I preparing my own writing or working as conference staff, but I'm also helping other writers tighten their own writing for submission for contests, pitching, etc. These are the months I am super busy. But then comes December, when everyone is focused on family and holiday traditions. This is a quiet month for me. My advice here is to pace yourself. Consider what you'd like to accomplish within the year. Schedule your projects accordingly. If you want to write a book, try taking November and December off from editing. Participate in NaNoWriMo in November and do your rewriting in December. You'll have a personal project ready to go for the new year. Do the income-earning work during the months you know you'll be readily available, such as February, when it's cold outside and all you want to do is stay in.

4. One thing I've been able to pinpoint this year is that I can get through about one five-to-six-page chapter per hour when I'm performing a substantive edit. I'm very detail oriented, so I scour the pages for everything from punctuation marks (is the apostrophe stiff or curly?) to formatting to story structure to characterization to showing vs. telling. I want to do the best work I can so that my clients have the best opportunity to see their book published and winning awards. I'm also a slow reader. I'm sorry, but I think there are two types: speed readers and slow readers. Think the tortoise and the hare. Yeah, I'm the tortoise type--slow and steady wins the race. This affects how quickly I can edit a book. Another variable in how long the editing takes is whether or not the author has taken initiative to learn the craft of writing and practiced it enough to develop their writing skills and if they've done any self-editing. The cleaner a manuscript is by the time it hits my desk, the quicker I'm going to be able to edit it. Keep track of your time for the next year. Figure out what your average pace is, and schedule your work accordingly. If you prefer clean manuscripts, only take on clients looking for a line edit or copy edit. If you like helping others develop their craft, look for clients who are first-time authors. I hit a point this year where I was a little overwhelmed. It wasn't too much for me to handle, but my time was spent editing more than I would have liked, my priorities falling to the wayside for a few months. Knowing my pace will help me to avoid this in the future.

What about you? Whether you're a writer or an editor or a homeschooling mom or a day-job worker who moonlights as a writer, what advice would you give someone who's trying to manage their time better? We'd love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to leave us a comment below.

Tweetables:

Are you a tortoise or a hare? Tips on scheduling your annual workload from @AlyciaMorales. http://tinyurl.com/q4kbkub #amwriting #amediting {Click to Tweet}

4 Tips for Scheduling and Time Management for Writers and Editors via @AlyciaMorales http://tinyurl.com/q4kbkub {Click to Tweet}

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