Writing Schedules - Yay or Nay?
Writing is hard. Writing on a schedule is even harder. To write on a consistent schedule, the creative genius lurking inside you needs to understand the human being that lies beneath and be realistic about your habits. For me, when I first sat down and tried to make a schedule, I was waaayyyyy too optimistic about not oversleeping after giving myself a reason to wake up. After a failed writing schedule trial that lasted two weeks, I was honestly disheartened. Like, why didn’t it work? I navigated around all my work time, scheduled decent breaks, snuck in some gym time to get my body as active as my imagination, all to no avail.
I just could not wrap my head around why I was writing more words before my schedule than I was during my experiment, so I took a month off from even trying. But during that month, I began noticing some habits and rituals I do before getting my brain ready to write. For example, I have to sit down in the gosh-awful chair that is at my desk with juice in hand or else my mind will focus solely on snacks when I am trying to world build or conquer a kingdom with my characters in mind. That horribly uncomfortable chair, for whatever reason, puts me in the zone where I feel the need to lean in and see the story in my head as I write it. The juice is just a focusing tool I use. But I didn’t know any of this until after my failed experiment.
So just how do you make a schedule that meets your goals and is still true to the person underneath the genius? Great question! Start by taking two weeks, minimum, to get to know your comfort zone. What are the little habits you’ve come to develop? Do they put you in the right frame of mind? No matter if they are good or bad habits, at least then you’ll know.
Once you are done with that small study, do a rough draft of the schedule you think will fit. Schedules are generally by hour, blocks, or rotating weeks. While I use the hour system for my personal planner, my day job is split in the middle so that makes my time split up in blocks. It took some time to figure out what works. As you decide which system to use, whether for preference or practicality, it is time to move on to the next step: one week trial run! Of course, it can be done longer but I suggest one week because the writing schedule should be built around your other obligations.
As you review the results, your emotions may become mixed. Perhaps it didn’t go as well as you’d have hoped, or maybe it went very well but now you are realizing how much time you just devoted to your writing and have second thoughts about wanting to stick to it. Both experiences are normal, and so are many others. Tweak your schedule over and over until you get the right fit for you.
And then there are just some people who for the life of them cannot write on a consistent routine but still grind out draft after draft. These people are the Unicorns of the writing world. If you are one of these people, you got talent, my friend! If you are not a Unicorn Writer, that’s OK! I’m happy to be a witch, goblin, mermaid, knight, dragon, god/goddess, etc. any day of the week. All of these creatures are still unique but in their own way.
If, for whatever reason, a scheduled writing situation does not work and you are not a unicorn, THAT’S OKAY! In certain cases, a schedule can dampen the creative well that authors use, or even just put more pressure on the writer than is really necessary. While a writing schedule works for me, they are not a one size fits all. But I highly suggest giving the writing schedule a go-for-it, because even if you don’t stick to one, you will find yourself knowing a little bit more about your own habits and go-to’s for jump starting that book.
In the comments below, tell me how you made your writing schedules. If you go by the seat of your pants and Unicorn it all, let us know how it’s working!