SUMMER SERIES: Writing + Time Management with Laura McNeil


summer_time-1455175With summer fast approaching, I realized that I wanted to do something this season that would help keep me on track as I chip away at Book #2.  I needed some inspiration, some words of wisdom and motivation from other authors and I also needed pie. Lots of it. 

 I decided to host a Summer Series on my blog from June through August that will consist of a monthly Author Interview with a writer sharing their words of wisdom on the craft of writing.  But wait for it, since life isn’t just about work, I am also going to have a Pie of the Month featured with tips and ideas from local LA bakers and writers who will share their expert ideas on making an enviable summer pie. 

I have our first pie lined up with tips from Emily Tyra, Editor of Taste of Home in Milwaukee. No one can rock a pie like Ms. Tyra. 

Hope you join me through the summer! And should you have any requests, be it writing, an author request or pie tips,  please email me at

Have a great summer and here’s to getting lots of writing and pie eating done this season.  ~ Cindy Arora 





This week, let’s welcome our first author,  Laura McNeil, who recently released her latest novel Sister Dear,  which is a must-add to your summer reading pile.  

Take it away Laura!  


If you’re an aspiring or experienced author, looking to carve out 30 or 90 minutes each day to write, how should you do it? What’s the best time to write? How long and how fast should you write?

Though many authors use different approaches to manage writing time, one thing remains the same: it’s a challenge to work full-time and have a family, let alone find the hours needed to work on a novel.

Since I’ve recently added graduate school, a new job, a new house, and a book tour to the mix, life is a little crazy! To get everything done, it’s all about priorities and a set schedule.


Remember, only you know your schedule and goals, so feel free to tweak my advice and make it work for you!

  1. Plan your Novel – For me, having a detailed outline of my novel is necessary. That means I brainstorm, decide the beginning, middle, and end of the story, and complete a short summary of each chapter before ever starting on page one of chapter one. This “roadmap” helps keep me on track. When I pop open my laptop every day, I only have to glance at my outline to know where my writing is heading. Now, that doesn’t mean I never veer off course or add a scene or delete a few paragraphs, but it does streamline the process and certainly staves off writer’s block!
  2. Look at the Big Picture – Writing an 80 or 90,000 word novel is daunting, but if you divide the work up into chapters or page count, the task becomes manageable.
  3. Set a Word Count – For me, 1500 words a day is doable. I write five days a week, usually, when I’m deep into a project, which means I need 12 weeks – or 3 months – to complete my rough draft. If I decide that my word count goal is 1000 words, and I write five days a week, I’ll need 18 weeks – or about 4 and a half months to complete the first draft.
  4. Write (Almost) Every Day – Like I mentioned, I try to write five days a week. Remember that life happens, children get sick, crises arise, and schedules get interrupted. Five days a week is a reasonable goal.
  5. Write at the Same Time – Writing at the same time every day, I find, makes writing much easier. I write best early in the morning, so I make it a habit to wake up, make my coffee, and open my laptop first thing. I find that after a week or so into a new book, my brain knows to “turn on” that time of day!
  6. Find your Zen Space – Quiet is very important for me, but you may be the sort of person who can work well in a noisy coffee shop or with music in the background at home. Not everyone has a home office Whatever works for you, keep with that routine for the duration of the book. Again, once you start that routine, and get in your writing “space,” the creativity will begin to flow.



About the Author

Laura McNeil is a writer, web geek, travel enthusiast, and coffee drinker. In her former life, she was a television news anchor for CBS News affiliates in New York and Alabama. Laura holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and is completing a graduate program in interactive technology at the University of Alabama. When she’s not writing and doing homework, she enjoys running, yoga, and spending time at the beach. She lives in Mobile, AL with her family.

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  1. Great Post! Keep up the good work!

  2. Great tips! Laura, you are a writing machine!

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