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Working To A Schedule?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Devora, Aug 13, 2016.

  1. Devora

    Devora Sage

    Though I honestly dislike the idea of scheduling my life (i'd feel like i would have no freedom), I realize that if i want to get more output as a writer i have to figure out ways to dedicate time to write and being productive with myself (i.e. exercise, sleep, etc.).

    What's everyone's opinion on this concept, and to those that do what are the pros and cons of a work schedule?
  2. I find it helps me to have a daily goal, even if that goal is just 200 words a day or 15 minutes of writing a day. The act of sitting down, every day, and writing improves your productivity, and helps you to conquer blocks. It makes writing into a habitual act rather than an inspired state of mind. (Or, sometimes, it enables you to induce that state of mind.)

    There's no harm in trying. It might not work for you, but it might. I suggest just sitting down to write at the same time each day. If inspiration comes, write. If it doesn't, write anyway. I've sat in front of the computer writing "I don't know what to write...I need something to write. Words words words words words..." But, when I wasn't writing rubbish like that, I produced some of my best work.

    It's also essential to set aside time for reading, exercise, and relaxing. You need free time to observe the world and contemplate as much as you need time to write. I find that, after very productive periods of writing, I need downtime to recharge and gather new ideas. So, there's no harm in taking breaks. If your time is limited maybe you could alternate between devoting your writing time to actual writing, and devoting it to reading, journaling, getting out and observing, etc.

    What works for you and what works for me will be entirely different things, though, so I encourage experimenting.
  3. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    To be a writer, one must write. Preferably every day, if only a few dozen utterly useless words. Choosing a specific time of day in which to write - this is 'writing time' - also helps.

    Beyond that, anymore, I make lists of the projects I wish to tackle at the start of the year and allocate time for each. I allow for flexibility here - summer is a very busy time for me in the real world, hence I give myself far more time per project than during, say, winter. I managed 25K during the last July NaNo - a bit over half what wrote during the November NaNo, when I had fewer distractions. I don't always finish projects within the allocated time. In those cases, I set the project aside and move on to the next in the list, until time opens up. This spring, due to illness, I had to curtail a rewrite/edit project. Should I finish the WIP ahead of schedule, I'll return to that.

    Then there are projects that 'just happen' - like running 'Top Scribe' or participating in Caged Maidens flash challenge.
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Devora, what do you mean by scheduling? That is, what is it you picture?

    No one can schedule their entire life. So you mean something short of that. On the other hand, we do schedule, say, a doctor's appointment, so you mean something more than that.
  5. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    This is similar to what I think. For me, as much as I wish I wasn't, I'm a creature of habit. I use to write every day, but life had dictated that type of schedule isn't in the books right now. But I generally write at least 4-5 days out of the week. I use to go to the library for a set period of time. I could do anything while I was there, but I couldn't leave until the time was up, so I could either write or not. I chose to write.

    Now I go to the food court at the mall or I go to McDonalds. I get some food, I open my laptop, and I write until I don't feel like writing anymore. Sometimes that's a half an hour. Other times, it may be two or three. Sometimes I produce words. Other times I edit, or plot, or brainstorm. It all depends on what I need/want to do that day.

    Sure, I have a rough schedule I like to keep, but it's not like I plan out every last moment of my day. For the most part, as long as I'm writing on a regular basis, I'm fine with where I'm at.

    I find it's like a car engine. If you don't start it for a long while, it can be hard to get it running again. The lube settles and parts may seize up. But if you start it every day, it's just a matter of turning the key and stepping on the accelerator to get somewhere.
  6. imagine123

    imagine123 Dreamer

    I try to write 15 minutes a day, every day. And when I say "write", I mean write. Not plot, not stare at my computer screen, not try to get in the mood with some music. I do all of that beforehand--I'm constantly thinking about the next step--, I have my playlist figured out and playing before I set the timer. And then, I just write. I'm a fast typer, so it helps. If I realize, in the middle of typing, that I just wrote something wrong, I make a comment (either during or after), and keep writing. I don't revise, because I know that I'll get lost in that mire.

    I chose 15 minutes a day because I figured it was just enough time to get something down without it being such a large amount of time that if I felt tired, or sick, or depressed, I would try to excuse myself from doing it. It's just 15 minutes, right? Doesn't seem like a lot of time, but since I started early this summer, I've gotten 20k words down. I should finish a first draft by December, which is cool with me.

    I used to write all day, and I used to write really detailed first drafts, but then I became a graduate student, and real life became the priority, so now it's all about sticking to the schedule, getting the story down in increments, and revising the hell out of it later. I used to be one of those people who would only write when the fancy struck them, and I never finished anything (except class assignments). I'm 100% positive I'm going to finish this one. I might not like it, but I'll finish it.
    TheCatholicCrow likes this.
  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Here's one argument in favor of scheduling: what you really want to do is to make writing a habit. By that word I mean something more than merely "a thing I do regularly". I mean a habit that borders on addiction. The sort of activity which, if you stop doing it for a while, eats at you.

    That's what I did, though it was rather by accident. I was still working (I'm retired) and I wanted to become more serious as a writer, and it was tough to write at the end of the day. So I started stealing time. I wrote on break. I wrote at lunch. I did this for about three years. Once I retired, I discovered that writing had become the sort of habit I describe above. Now I can't quit. I can be uneven. I can be erratic. But I cannot go more than a couple of days without trying to find some place, some opportunity to write even for just a few minutes, like a kid trying to find a place to sneak a cigarette.

    I don't think I could have managed that without having had a pseudo-schedule over the span of many months.
  8. Addison

    Addison Auror

    I don't really schedule my writing time, at least not rigorously and stick to it religiously. I have a weird work schedule open to change to even if I wanted to it would be impossible. I just have to seize each moment and write. It may seem ironic as I'm currently posting but part of the process is fixing distractions. I'm kinda multi-tasking as I post as my hot chocolate brews, which is part of the process. :)
  9. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    Like Skip, I'm a big believer in the power of creating habits. Success in most of life's endeavors can be linked to positive habits.

    I've also found scheduling incredibly useful. I used to write late at night when the family was asleep. While that worked okay, switching my writing time to early morning tripled my productivity. My mind isn't tired from a long day. Rather, it's fresh, but that's more a matter of when than why, I suppose.

    The #1 reason to stick to a schedule is the training of your mind. If you write everyday at a specific time, in a specific place, it's easier for your brain to jump into creative mode, much like how a ritual focuses the mind.

    John Cleese (a man who knows a fair bit about creativity) cites a book called Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind often when speaking of creative processes. Rather than regurgitate, I'll paste a link. After, if you're interested, there's a lot more to find on Cleese's views regarding creativity, which has a lot of bearing on the topic at hand.

    John Cleese?s secret to being creative?

    A secondary benefit to scheduling is getting other people in your life used to the idea that these are your writing hours, & you're not to be disturbed.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
  10. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    OP: writing to a schedule can only benefit you. Depending on what your writing goals are and your availability, coming up with a feasible plan should be a snap. Sticking to it is another matter. :) But keep it dynamic and make sure that it not only supports your writing goals, but allows you success in small chunks. As some have mentioned here, you can do either time, days, or word count.

    A couple of resources I'd like to recommend are Rachel Aaron's 2k To 10k and Chris Fox's 5,000 Words Per Hour. These books have some timed sprints and other tricks that you could try to help you meet word count goals to a specific time frame, if you so desire. I think that writing to a schedule is not only helpful but important to keeping ourselves connected to our writing. Even if it's a couple nights a week or 15 mins a day, having something set specifically for your projects boosts your confidence as a writer and allows you to take steps in the direction of your goals.

    Writing daily has been a huge boon in so many ways and I'm grateful to have the time to do it. The books I recommended have also been helpful in getting my word count up: so my daily goal is 2k minimum although sometimes I write more. This takes me about two hours, and then I do editing in the afternoons. I do struggle to keep my schedule at times but it's helped immensely to look at it as a job. Every morning, Monday to Friday at 9am, I sit down to write for a couple hours. I don't plan on writing weekends because we're usually busy with family stuff and chores. I like to write in the evenings, too if I get a chance. It's seriously nice to just have the time--whatever works best for you--devoted to only writing. Good luck with whatever schedule you create for yourself!
  11. Jess

    Jess Dreamer

    I ended up setting a deadline for myself and then divided my rough estimate of a word count by the number of days I had to complete my project by said deadline. This ended up working out pretty well for me personally. I ended up having a extremely reasonable daily word count goal that I could stick to. Certain days I found that I was unable to write for whatever reason but because my word count was reasonable I was able to tack it on to the next day so that I will still moving forward. I found that it really helped with feeling a sense of accomplishment as well. Instead of one massive goal of "completing my book" I was able to have daily goals of writing 100-200 words a day. And on days that I was able to say, triple my goal, I felt justified in treating myself to a little extra R&R because dang it, I earned it.
  12. Helen

    Helen Inkling

    Massively helpful and productive working to a schedule.

    Even if I didn't work (write) during that time, I'd be thinking about it.

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