Modern schedules are a mess. Adding writing to the mix takes practice, and if you try to shoe-horn some quality time in a place it doesn’t fit, you’ll get frustrated. The key isn’t beating yourself into shape to write, but twisting your writing to fit your life.
Tasker or Timer
Before you get into the details of scheduling, you have to figure out what kind of schedule you are. You’ve heard of plotters and pantsers. This approach to writing schedules follows the same principles. Task-based writers are the to-do list champions. They don’t like timed tests or team meetings because they’re already on a mission, and that kind of structure just throws them off. Adding a number of words to their to-do list motivates them to make a specific amount of progress on their WIP before calling it a day. It may be the first thing they do. It may be the last thing they do. But they will do it, because it’s on the list, isn’t it?
Time-based writers like clocks, can handle alarms, and follow an hourly schedule. If you like timed writing exercises, this is your jam. Scheduling a specific time, like 7 pm to 8 pm, lets some writers feel they’re allowed to write. It’s a gift of time they give themselves, and they don’t have to feel guilty using it on their creative work. This approach works best for people with 9-5 jobs. In order to schedule a regular writing session, you need a regular time open.
Morning writers find their muse stretches with the early dawn. Taking the dog for a walk while it’s still a dark gives them time to think about their latest plot knots, and the thirty minutes between coffee and breakfast when the kids are still asleep is a golden hour of quiet. Morning taskers feel most accomplished and ready to start the day when they complete their creative work first thing, and schedulers start their commute secure in the knowledge they’ve already invested their morning wisely.
If getting out of bed after slapping the alarm six times is physically and emotionally painful, you probably don’t have time between waking and work to be a morning writer. The same goes for parents with children who rise before the alarm clock and anyone who struggles to get their motor running before noon.
The night crowd savors the possibilities of the dark. They enjoy the deep quiet of a world asleep, and without so many distractions, they can claim the precious hours at the end of their day for creative writing. Taskers may use this anticipated escape as motivation to finish up their lists earlier in the day, and schedulers often feel less pressure when they write shortly before bed.
Writing at any time of day takes discipline, but if you’re consistently tired at the end of the day and fall into your blankets all too willingly – list be finished or not – then the evening may hold too many temptations for you.
It’s a sad fact of life that many of us do not have regular schedules. It’s hard to dedicate an hour – or 15 minutes – to writing at any set time. Many jobs force workers to attend an early shift, a midday shift, and a few evening shifts over the week. Waitresses, grocery store clerks, retail employees, delivery drivers, and medical personal have wildly disruptive schedules. In these cases, your writing schedule boils down to writing moments. You must seize little windows of opportunity and take advantage of mornings you rise too early, or nights you spend awake.
To master the moment writer schedule:
- Use sounds and scents to train your muse when you start writing (Use ASoftMurmur.com or a little bottle of essential oil).
- Keep a small notebook and pen/pencil in your pocket at all times.
- Focus on the fun of writing; don’t stress about a high word count.
- Have fun with writing binges on days off and piece together the little gems you’ve written in your notebook.
When do you write? Does inspiration come knocking late at night, or do you snack on 50-word treats throughout the day? Are you a tasker or a timer?