S is for Scheduling

Recently, my schedule has been all out of whack. One of the reasons that I wanted to do the A to Z Challenge was to get myself back into a real writing habit. Yes, they say you should write every day, and I wanted to carve out a little bit of time every day to do that. The Challenge helped me with outside accountability, and I thought that I would be able to stick to it better that way.

Then I went to AWP, and after that, I wanted to take a couple days off. Then I started feeling kind of poorly, and I thought I was coming down with something. Turns out it was something, perhaps a bad cold or something. Sore throat, aches and pains, foggy brain. I didn’t work for two days. That doesn’t sound like much, but I was already behind one day on the Challenge, when I missed a day during AWP. So that put me behind two days (one of those days I missed was a Sunday, not a Challenge day). So at this point in time, I am behind two days (right? What day is it anyway?).

Now, that’s doable. I can catch up on that over the weekend. And I would hope to be able to get ahead a few days, too. The idea behind doing the Challenge is that I will be able to turn that routine writing time into very productive writing time once April is over.

But that isn’t going to happen if I don’t make the habit in the first place. The first several days, before I went to AWP, I was very good at getting up and getting right on the post for that day. It was the first thing I did. Some days, it was the only thing I did. But at least it got done. Why should my bigger writing projects be any different? I am at a point where I am in control of my days. I don’t have a ton of clients, and I am not looking for a lot, since my health is not quite up to snuff yet. If I can’t write because I’m sick, I can live with that. It’s a lot different to have to offer that excuse to a client.

It’s not the ideal situation, but I mean to take advantage of it. Last year, I was working with a writing coach who emphasized the idea of committing to what she called ‘your writing habit.’ If you committed to 15 minutes a day, and kept that commitment, then you could give yourself credit for it. And this fueled the desire to do it again, since obviously it feels good when we do something we mean to do. It’s a classic self-motivator, getting something done. Plus, then you can reward yourself, which is nice.

I did like the 15 minute idea, but I had trouble keeping my commitments. Yes, even of 15 minutes. I would commit to three 15 minute sessions, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. (Note that you were always allowed to go over your time – the idea was just to commit to the smallest amount that you thought you could accomplish.) I would check my calendar for conflicts and make sure I was scheduling for times I would be available. But then I would forget about it, or get wrapped up in something else. She suggested that giving yourself a day and time was the best way to keep the commitment. But I kept forgetting.

It is a good idea, though. I like the idea of committing to my own writing. But I can’t do it in the midst of a workday. I thought I could, but no. I think going at it first thing in the morning is the best idea. This will allow me more freedom to continue if I am on a roll. I was trying to fit in my 15 minutes in the middle of the day, as a transition or a lunch break. And when I forgot, I always felt terrible, which prevailing wisdom will tell you is the surest way to make yourself feel discouraged. And discouragement is the surest thing to lead to quitting.

Well, I’m not about to quit. I have always been a writer. It is who I am. I just want something more to show for it. I have set some goals, and I have pursued some paths to those goals, and I think that putting the writing first thing in the morning is the thing that works best.
So the rest of my blog posts should be posted rather earlier in the day. Look for that, will you? And if I’m slacking, call me on it. I won’t do daily blog posts after the Challenge is over, but I will be working on the website a lot. And that requires a lot of writing too. So yay for the Challenge, and yes, yay for scheduling!

What schedule works best for you? When do you do your best writing? What obstacles do you have to work around? How do you feel about the maxim that a writer should write every day?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

2 thoughts on “S is for Scheduling”

  1. I’m glad I saw your post because I am struggling with the same issue. Sometimes life, family, illnesses and other things get in the way of our intended writing goal. When you are an unpublished author , like me, you can’t always get away with locking yourself in a room and letting the other matters wait. But, if I am preparing for a jury trial then my family and friends are more than happy to leave me to it. In fact, they respect my decision and they recognize the importance of getting my case ready for trial . Many of them are even willing to pick up my slack around the house and they understand when I politely decline social invitations. It’s because they know me as a lawyer and they respect my work. Sadly, my writing doesn’t warrant that same recognition and respect . To others , since I am not yet, published, they tend to view my writing as a hobby that I should only do when everything else in my life is accounted for and as long as it doesn’t interfere with social obligations . It’s very frustrating .

    You mentioned working with a writing coach. I’ve considered that for the purpose of being accountable to someone and working toward real deadlines. I’m interested in finding out about your exoerience with your writing coach .

    Another thing about scheduling , when I was writing my draft – when I was eager to get words on paper and stay committed to writing , I was able to fit my writing in at anytime during the day. I was content and also productive writing in short spurts , like carpool lines, waiting at the doctor or dentist office and I managed to accomplish quite a bit even if I only wrote for 15-20 min at a time . Now that I am revising my novel and working to polish and perfect it, I can’t even make myself start on it, unless I know that I have a long period of time that II can commit to writing without interruptions or distractions . Why such a difference with revisions? Is it merely a mental block that is all in my head.

    Thanks for sharing your scheduling post. It helps to hear how others deal with these difficult situations. I enjoyed your post and learned quite a bit . Thanks and take care.

    Melissa Sugar
    Twitter @msugar13

    1. I don’t know why that would make a difference! I have that same experience, especially with revising. Or if I am writing a specific piece, like for an assignment. I want to have a good block of time and know that I am going to be able to focus. The little tidbits of stolen writing still happen all the time, but I don’t often get a usable piece out of it. I need the solid time to go back and look it over and think about it. For years, though, I had no time at all, so those stolen moments were the only moments. But now the kids are grown and gone, and I guess that means I have no more excuses! It can be VERY hard, though, if you are not supported by those around you. I know that.

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