Today will be busy. So will tomorrow and every day. Writing is hard enough without continually explaining to coworkers that you have to push back the deadline again.
Professional writers don’t spend all day writing, pensively marinating ideas and sipping macchiatos. We have e-mails to answer, meetings to attend, bills to prepare. How do pros make time to write in a busy day?
First of all, be realistic when you accept deadlines. Don’t lie to yourself about whipping out a complete draft at home tonight when you’re tired. Don’t expect to squeeze in writing during a meeting. When you write, multitasking makes everything take longer.
Break up writing into discrete tasks, like gathering data, outlining, drafting, and checking facts. Many of the tasks of writing are fifteen-minute to-dos, not two-hour stints at the keyboard.
Schedule milestones working backward from your deadline. Allow a reasonable amount of turnaround time for reviewers to give feedback on three or four drafts. (In my writing workshops I provide techniques for managing reviews and reviewers.)
Once you have a schedule, create appointments in Outlook for time to write. I’ve used this method successfully for years. It prevents me and others from crowding out the time I need to write. Coworkers won’t schedule over those times without your knowing it, at least, and then you can set up a new timeslot for writing. And Outlook gives you a 15-minute reminder to clear the decks and turn your attention to writing.
When that time comes, it’s a matter of creating the mental space to write. More on that later.