Sticking with a Writing Schedule

posted in: Various Musings | 0

If you can’t find time to write, you’re not going to get anything written. Makes sense, doesn’t it? If you have a desire to write but can’t keep the ball rolling, what are some ways you can do that? Carrie asked me this question a couple of weeks ago: “How do you stick to a writing schedule? I find it hard to make time to write on top of working full time.”

Sticking to a writing schedule is just as easy (or as difficult) as sticking to a schedule for anything. Really, sometimes it comes down to priorities. My problem, I think, is that writing is almost a compulsion for me. It is something I want to do all the time…so, when I have free time, I do it. Most readers are shocked when they find out I work not one but two jobs (between sixty and seventy hours per week) and have a family yet still manage to publish several books a year. I’m not kidding when I say it’s a compulsion, and I don’t expect others to be that insane about it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t write and stick to a schedule!

Here are some tips you can try that might get you writing solidly:

  1. Write every single day. Yes, some days will be busier than others, but make time to write. Look at your schedule for the day. Maybe you get up in the morning and get ready for work, go to work, and then you have something family related that entire night. There’s no time! Or maybe there is. Maybe you get up half an hour early so you have time before getting ready for work. Make writing your number one priority and I promise you’ll find time, even if it’s only five minutes.
  2. Make writing a habit. Maybe instead of “carving out time” or “making it a priority,” you instead decide to write every day at the same time—each and every day. Experts say that it takes twenty-one days to create a lifelong habit, so see if you can write for one month at the same time every day. Perhaps you choose to write for an hour in the morning before everyone else in the house gets up, or maybe it’s an hour before bed. Maybe you decide that your lunch break is the best time—or maybe half an hour after work or two hours after the dishes are done at night? The time of day doesn’t matter. What matters is that you set yourself a time and stick to it and if, for some reason, you weren’t able to stick to it one day, get back on track the following one. Keep at it until it’s second nature.
  3. Make it exciting! Do you remember one of the first times you were in love? Or do you remember when you discovered a hobby or interest that you were passionate about, where you spent hours and hours doing something and it seemed like mere seconds had passed? Find a way to make your writing that way–where it consumes you. Come up with a plot or characters so damned interesting that you can’t wait to get back with them or just can’t go another second without finding out where the plot is going. And I can promise you that if you’re that drawn to your own writing, your readers will be too!
  4. Join a writing group. Sometimes having to be accountable (and saving face) will kick things in gear. Whether it’s online or in person, having a writing group where everyone shares a little something and gives feedback can make you feel the pressure to set a pace and stick with it.
  5. Set goals. Maybe instead of setting aside specific time, if you’re a goal-oriented person, set solid targets to aim for. You might decide one of these: “I’m going to write 1000 words a day”; “I’m going to write a chapter a day”; “I will write 5000 words a week, no matter what!”; or “I’ll give myself two weeks to plot my story.” Write your goals down and, if they are big goals, break them down into small chunks (e.g., if your goal is to write a novel this year, figure out how many chapters you’ll have to write each month, then how many weeks it will take you to write a chapter, etc.). Post them somewhere where you’ll see them—on the fridge, in a reminder app, on a sticky note by the speedometer in your car or on your computer monitor. Make it difficult to forget. And if you find yourself procrastinating or even just having a hard time hitting some of your targets, ask yourself why. Is it a psychological thing or did you just run out of time? Adjust your goals as necessary so that you can achieve them! Stretch yourself on occasion too, though.

Not all these tips will work for everyone, but I’m hoping that one or two (or more) will ring true with you and help you kick start your writing habit. Happy writing!

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Got a question for me? Post below and I’ll be happy to answer it either here or in a future Saturday blog post!

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