Sarah Sundin


“How did you find time to write a book?” a friend asked.

Perhaps it was my ability to type at the speed of light? Or my complete lack of a personal life?

Um, no. Snails type faster than I do, and they don’t have fingers. When I started writing, I had three young children, taught Sunday school, and had a part-time job. But I made time to write.

Four tools for increasing productivity are herding up goals, corralling blocks of time, lassoing the online beast, and harnessing snippets of time. Honestly, I don’t write Westerns.

1.Herd Up Goals

Even if you aren’t published yet, make deadlines. Set yearly goals, monthly goals, and daily goals. My goal sheet hangs over my desk. Staring at me.

2.Corral Blocks of Time

“I am a professional.” Repeat until you believe it.

Now, act like it. Keep office hours, no matter how short.

Having children at home complicates things, but even a toddler can learn to respect office hours. Despite what many say, a child does not need constant entertainment—in fact, a child who learns to entertain himself becomes imaginative.

3. Lasso the Internet

Email and social media are necessary, but they can drain away that time you corralled.

Designate time for online activities. Reserve your personal best time of the day for writing and your less-productive times for the internet.

Then set time limits, using a timer if necessary.

4. Harness Time Snippets

Use snippets of time while waiting at the soccer field or doctor’s office. Here are some things you can do in ten minutes:

  • Research

As a historical novelist, I always have a pile of books to read. Also, research magazines or websites you’d like to target, or read a book in your genre.

  • Pre-write

Outline an article or chapter, fill out character charts, or write a synopsis.

  • Edit

Editing is my favorite on-the-go activity, well suited to interruptions.

  • Critiques

Use time snippets to review your critique partners’ work.

  • Communication

With a smart phone or tablet, tackle emails and social media on the run—and free up time at home.

  • Publicity

Public writing means free publicity. People will ask what you’re doing. So tell them. Always bring business cards or bookmarks.

  • Write

Use a time snippet to write. Really. Try it.


How can you improve your time management?


Sarah Sundin enjoys writing about the adventure and romance of the World War II era. She is a best-selling author of 11 novels, including The Sky Above Us and The Sea Before Us. Her novels When Tides Turn and Through Waters Deep were named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years,” and Through Waters Deep won the INSPY Award and was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award.

Sarah will keynote and teach workshops at the upcoming Winter One-Day Conference February 22, 2020, at Chemeketa Community College, in Salem.