How to Start a Book Writing Project: Time Management

by | Jan 7, 2023 | Writing

Greetings, writers! In this third installment of my series on How to Start a Book Writing Project, we’re going to discuss the discipline of time management. As you might guess, this is a big one. It may be obvious, but if you don’t carve out the time to write your book, it’s never going to get done. Here’s why.

Scheduling Your Life: Introducing Big S and Little S

There are two aspects of scheduling your writing practice. For simplicity, we’ll call them Big S and Little S. The difference between them is basically the window you’re looking at.

Big S is your overall book launch plan. Professional project managers typically look at this long-range view in a Gantt chart format. That’s what you see in the image above. This long-range timeline shows the starting point of the project or the day you decide to write a book, the end of the project—typically your launch day, and everything that happens in between; for example: writing, editing, cover design, interior layout, back cover copy, etc.

To be clear, a book writing project in our context here gets you to publication or the launch date if that is your goal. But make no mistake, if your goal is to be a successful published author who sells books, things are just beginning. There is an entirely different project lying ahead called marketing. You may even create a business around your book, which contains yet another set of tasks to accomplish and likely, another set of schedules.

Little S contains the day-to-day disciplines that must occur to grind out that new book. This is basically your calendar where you schedule your writing blocks, whether it’s every day or three times a week. Ideally, your writing blocks will be at the same time and of the same duration each session. That helps to establish a routine that eventually, you won’t have to think about. You will also migrate specific dates from your Big S to your Little S, like due dates such as when your editor is expecting your manuscript or when you told your cover designer to expect your back cover copy.

Reconciling how to start a book writing project

There comes a point in your planning for how to start a book writing project, hopefully during the development of your book proposal, when Big S and Little S must come into alignment—the reconciliation. Remember all this numbers we talked about in the Integration blog post? Getting these two schedules to align is critical.

So what does that even mean? Well, if you plan to write an 80,000-word novel to be completed in six months but only plan to write once a week for two hours each, you’re going to have a problem. It doesn’t add up. You can’t get there from here.

Assuming you can write 1000 words during each two-hour session, here’s the math.

  • 1000 words per week x 26 weeks = 26,000 words

In short, you need more like 18 months, not six.

  • 80,000 / 1000 = 80 weeks = 18.411 months

There are a few ways to bring this disparity into alignment:

  • Reduce the manuscript’s word count
  • Increase the duration and thus the word count output for each session
  • Increase the writing sessions per week.

Of course you could hire people to write different sections of the book for you, but that isn’t realistic for most of us. Besides, merely throwing people at a problem isn’t always the right solution. Think about it. You can’t have a baby in 1 month by employing 9 women.

Jus’ sayin’

Plans are Nothing, Planning is Everything

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Remember, your book proposal, whether you intend to publish traditionally or remain an indie author, is your opportunity to do the math and plan out your time management strategy. In fact, the book proposal is so important, it should be plainly identified on the Big S with time blocked out to do it on Little S.

A Word About Location and Your Book Writing Project

While it really isn’t about time management, where you write matters. If you can swing it, it makes all the difference in the world if you use that time you set aside and write in the same space. Ideally, the space is dedicated to your writing craft and is decorated for your peace and all the tools can remain at arms length.

Of course, we don’t all have this luxury. Even if your writing space is the dining room able, maybe you can do your writing early in the morning before anyone else is awake. That way, it’s quiet. In your mind, it’s your space. If you want, hang a picture of an old typewriter or something relevant that you can look at while writing to remind you that this is your writing space. But eventually work toward carving our your own space. It’s important.

If you would like more details on setting up these schedules and other aspects of How to start a book writing project, consider investing in my book, Project Management for Writers by following this link. Thank you!

What ideas do you have for scheduling the tasks necessary for your writing project? Please share them below.

Many blessings and happy writing!



Hi, I’m Terry