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5 Textbook authoring time management tips

Good time management skills are crucial for authors. Manage your time well and you can maximize your efficiency, allowing you to meet or beat deadlines and still have time for other activities. Five successful textbook authors share the following time management tips:

  1. Prioritize writing and other work and life commitments. “Ask yourself: What’s most important? If family life ranks highest, then set aside writing in favor of spending time with loved ones. When you return to your desk, you’ll focus far more effectively and get more accomplished because you will not be distracted by thoughts of having sacrificed life experiences that are deeply important to you.” —Laura Berk, author of Exploring Lifespan Development
  2. Set aside a sufficient number of hours per day or week to focus on your writing. “While you’re writing, ignore email, Twitter, Facebook, and everything else in the virtual world.” —Steve Barkan, author of Criminology: A Sociological Understanding
  3. Don’t lose momentum; complete a full draft of any chapter you start writing. When I write a chapter, I have the outline in my mind every morning when I wake, because that’s a time when I can ‘see’ what I’m doing without the distractions that occur throughout the day.” —Jay Coakley, author of Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies
  4. Agree to specific deadlines for submitting manageable chunks of the manuscript and all the ancillary materials in order to help manage your time. “By doing this, my co-author and I met every deadline, and it certainly put us in a better bargaining position. My co-author and I actually withheld a completed section for three days until an overdue advance check arrived in the mail. It’s interesting to note how much more moral authority authors have when they have done all that is expected of them!” —Jay Black, coauthor of Doing Ethics in Media: Theories and Practical Applications
  5. If your book has exercise material, write out the answers for the answer key or instructor’s manual immediately after drafting the exercises. “This way, you will pick up any questions, problems, or exercises that don’t work as well as you thought they would, and you can revise them at the easiest, most convenient, time.” —Barbara Clouse, author of Patterns for a Purpose: A Rhetorical Reader

Dionne Soares Palmer is a freelance writer based in northern California.