Last week, we talked about not waiting for the perfect time to write and to start living your dream now. To make writing a habit in your life — a weekly, if not daily practice. Click here to read When is the Perfect Time to Write?
A Mudpie fan (thanks, Cynthia R!) emailed me that this is her #1 writing struggle. She said, “I’m not a schedule kind of person. I really want to write, but I’ve never had much self-discipline.”
Many people balk at the word ‘schedule’. It’s too organized…it kills their creativity…they only want to write when they’re inspired.
Consequently, they…don’t write very much. So, what are writers to do?
Here are five tips to help you create the right writing schedule for you.
1. Get an Attitude
New York Times Bestselling author Steven Pressfield is not only the author of The Legend of Baggar Vance, but also several other must-read books found at Mudpie Writing: The War of Art, Do the Work and Turning Pro.
To Pressfield, ‘turning pro’ doesn’t mean becoming a professionally paid author, though many folks do after they follow his advice. He means you taking your craft seriously — a shift in mindset.
Pressfield says, “Turning pro means we find our power. We find our will and our voice and we find our self-respect. We become who we always were, but had, until then, been afraid to embrace and to live out. It’s messy and scary.”
That’s so simple, but so damn hard.
A writing schedule gives just as much importance to your writing as it does to your other must-do activities: folding the laundry, working at a paying job, brushing your teeth.
Writing will become a natural part of your life when you make time for it.
2. Gojo with Your Mojo
It’s common sense to write when you’re most productive. I talk about this in detail in my free eBook: Write on Fire — Learn 8 Secrets to Overcome Writer’s Block and Pursue Your Dreams.
There are many different kinds of writers with a variety of schedules. Here are just a few:
Early-Bird – that’s me. My writing time is 5 – 7 am before my family wakes up and we’re blowing and going in all directions. It’s almost like writing in a dream state before my inner critique is awake and nitpicking at me.
Night-Owl: same benefits as above, but he writes after his family goes to bed, or after he’s put in a full day at the office. This writer’s imagination comes alive after dark.
9-5 Writer: has a paid job where they don’t mind if she writes when there’s no other work to do. One friend is a receptionist in an office where her bosses don’t mind her writing during down times. She’s makes a steady paycheck, while pursuing her dream.
The Thief – I love this writer because he steals time. One friend is a Mr. Mom who snatches whatever 15-20 minute blocks he can: while the baby is napping, when the kids eat their snacks, or on a play date.
The Marathoner– this writer works full-time at a stressful job. She’s too exhausted to come home and write, but she makes notes to herself throughout the week. When the weekend comes, she’s devoted to her writing.
If you can’t write during your favorite time of day, do the best you can.
3. The Right Spot to Write
I write at a desk in the middle of my office. Well, it’s not really a desk and not just my office. I sit at what used to be our dining room table. It’s a big, beautiful wooden table that sits in the center of what also doubles as our laundry room. At least the washer and dryer are hidden behind closed doors. It’s not perfect, but it’s my space and I love it.
I have a friend whose writing spot is her favorite chair in her bedroom. Another friend travels a great deal, so he writes on his laptop in whatever hotel room where he’s staying.
Some folks love to go to coffee shops and write amidst the hustle and bustle. For others, that’s too noisy and distracting.
The where you write doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you write.
4. Unplug from Your Distraction of Choice
No doubt, life moves crazy busy for us all. However, you’ll gain 60 extra minutes each and every day if you’ll:
Turn off the TV.
Turn off Facebook.
Stop dinking around on the internet.
Quit walking into the kitchen for a snack.
We all know what our distractions of choice are. Write first, then goof off later.
5. Baby Steps
If you’re just starting to write, I’d recommend starting with 250 words a day.
That’s one-typed page (double spaced).
That’s so doable.
If you’re further along in your writing journey, try five new pages every day. That small, but consistent effort will give you over 450 pages in just three months.
That’s a full novel, baby.
Of course, reality plays into this. If you’ve just started a new job, are dealing with an elderly parent, or can’t seem to get organized — don’t beat yourself up for not writing. Do the best you can. Some is better none. Our schedules are always changing, so modify as needed.
The key to writing is to shut up, sit down and write.
Do YOU have a writing schedule? Yes or no, tell me why with a comment. If you like this post, please pass it on to friends.
Pick up your FREE copy today of the mystery, The Moon Rises at Dawn (SkipJack Publishing). Read, enjoy, repeat.