Friday, March 12, 2010

Writing on a Schedule?

Say wha??

Some people set a schedule for themselves, just to get something written. The idea sounds good on paper, doesn't it? Maybe an hour a day, or every other day, that you know you will get writing done, no matter what? How feasible is this? How many times do we think we have a free hour, sit down to write, and are pulled away by this, that or the other (darn them!)?

I look at my own life schedule... and it's different every day. And a lot of it depends on when I get up in the morning. Sometimes I'm able to get off work at 2, some days I don't get off until 4, some days I have piano lessons, some days a friend might call up wanting to meet for dinner, some nights I just really want to watch Lost or Ugly Betty (or The Vampire Diaries), some nights I just really want to read, some nights I have errands to run, meals to cook, a house to clean, and EVERY day my dogs pester pester pester "take me outside", "put water in our bowl", "FEED US!"... And those are just two dogs (and yes, I love them dearly). How do those of you with children manage?!

If I really sat down and made myself a writing schedule, would it work? Would I stick to it? Is it really so wrong to "write when you feel like it"?

What's your take? Do any of you schedule in your writing? Are any of you thinking about it?

"You might write crap, but you can edit crap. You can't edit a blank page." - Kelly L. Stone

24 comments:

  1. Different writers require different methods to motivate themselves. A writing schedule works perfectly fine for some, others find it restrictive and that it supresses creativity. I know there's one initiative going around right now where you commit to writing 1,000 words a day. No more...or no less. That wouldn't work for me. I will go days without working on my WIP (but I do write something), and there are other days I can churn out as much as 10,000. But like I said...that's just me.

    I do believe that as a writer, you should write SOMETHING everyday.

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  2. This actually is something I've been considering myself. I haven't gone with a schedule yet, but am finding it would probably be for the best if I did.

    Actually, I can relate to your "Who am I" section off to the left in the sense that I, too, have more hobbies than time. I coach water polo, play soccer, play water polo, participate in my twice-monthly writers group, etc. On top of that, I have a full-time job (not in the writing field...). It's really too much (my wife agrees, even though she wants me to being doing the things that make me happy), but I don't know which activities to ditch. I suppose playing water polo would be the first to go, but I just don't know after that...

    Anyhow, it's definitely something I need to figure out, and I can completely relate to what you're saying. My take is that I need to become a more disciplined writer and set up a schedule of some sort. So that's most likely what I'll end up doing.

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  3. I really like your quote. I try my best to schedule but it is not easy. I have to go more with the flow. I have (2) small kids who don't love to sleep. I have tried to write if and when they nap but that is very rare so I actually wind up doing it when I make dinner or after they go to bed. It not easy but somehow you make it work. Good luck!

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  4. Great quote! I don't write on a schedule. My current life of teaching and family makes it too difficult. I just have to squeeze the time in when I can for now. I would love to reach a place in my life when I can schedule it, though.

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  5. sort of? I mean, i try to do a lot of writing related stuff on Sundays, and i guess my free time is typically the same time every day due to the day job, so i guess i'm scheduled purely by circumstance. if that makes sense

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  6. I've never set a time schedule, but I do try to set a word goal each day. Right now I'm at 1000 words a day, and since I quit taking a lunch break at work thats where most of those get written..

    And I feel you, Some days it feels like I don't have enough time for life things, much less writing. And I've got the last 4 episodes of Vampire Diaries DVR'd and haven't had time to watch them! ughhh

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  7. I schedule writing whenever I have quiet time (kids are sleeping). But I LOVE that quote. Really good.

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  8. Hi, creative Kristin Rae! I've been lurking around your blog lately, but I have to come out of the shadows and say that I can't always write on a schedule. When I do, I usually sit there looking at the screen, tired or stressed out because I know I'm supposed to be accomplishing something and I've got zilch to offer. I still write everyday, after I feel the proverbial sparks begin to fly in my brain.

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  9. LOL! I even blogged about the distractions of working from home yesterday. A set schedule is nearly impossible for me. Now I might write "work on ____" on my to-do list, but I never schedule a time or length I will write. I always find time somewhere in the day to do it.
    Works for me.

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  10. I have to schedule a time to write. If I don't I just don't get it done. By waking up in the morning early I write for about an hour, sometimes only a half hour. But I've come to look forward to it, and I notice I can think more clearly then. And I'm sure a lot of what I write is crap, but in this case some crap is better than no crap :)

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  11. I have a very loose schedule. I don't want to force myself to write, just for the sake of writing something. On the other hand, when I don't have a schedule, there are too many other things that I spend time doing. At the moment, I'm trying to write an hour a day (and no more!), but if I'm not feeling inspired, I don't feel guilty about taking the day off.

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  12. I have ceased making plans for just about anything. I used to try and schedule in "writing time" but it never happened. My new system is "when I feel like it, do it." Fortunately, I feel like writing all the time so I get something done on whatever project on any given day, even if it's just a handful of paragraphs. It doesn't sound inspiring but it's worked for me for years.

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  13. I don't work well on a schedule for writing, every day brings different struggles to handle. I hope to write that day, I think about what I'm going to write all day and when I get home I try and find at least an hour free, last night I had gotten two and it was nice! Inspiration is key for me, like today I'm feeling it!! I'll have a few minutes before dinner and I'll utilize every minute of it!

    Friends wanting to go out for dinner is a big one for me, I love to go out with them, but I try and be mindful about what I'm missing out on.

    I get off work at 4 and then feed my cats, love them, watch some trash tv, do some laundry and then time to write, I panic if I don't get other stuff out of the way first.

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  14. A schedule would be awesome, but to be able to use a schedule you have to have a somewhat predictable life pattern. Ah well, so I just write when opportunity knocks.

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  15. Oh, my poor writing schedule. I am always tweaking it, ignoring it, and otherwise mistreating it. But when I follow it diligently, I am more productive. The problem with 'write when I feel like it' is that when writing gets hard I don't feel like writing. Pro writers write even when they don't feel like it, so if I want to be pro I'd better do that too.

    Stop making interesting posts and distracting me from my writing schedule!! :)

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  16. I don't write with a schedule, but I do write with a goal in mind. Like, "I'm going to add 500 words. I'm going to edit 1 chapter." Having the goal motivates me to make the time.

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  17. I'm horrible at following schedules so I've never scheduled time to write. It's just one of those things that regardless of what else needs to be done, somehow, I always find time to write. Great post!

    I have something for you on my blog. :)

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  18. Gosh, I wish I could schedule a time, just so I'd know for sure I'd get something written every day. I set a goal of a puny 250 words per day on my book, but even that doesn't happen sometimes. Life with an infant--ever unpredictable.
    But then I think that it's mostly my fault that I don't get my book written, because I take way to much time blogging. So I guess I'm writing, just not writing my book.

    http://karenmkrueger.wordpress.com

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  19. This is so true. I always make resolutions, sometimes grossly general (i.e. New Year's resolutions) and sometimes terribly specific, setting up a schedule to write -- they never work out because I set my sights so high, always. "It's just 1000 words a day, I can totally do that!" When midnight comes, however, those 1000 words seem so huge a goal.

    I wouldn't let myself make reasonable goals like 250 words/day because it'll take me a whole year to finish the first draft of the book. But by setting my sight so high, I end up getting no books at all.

    So, I'm trying now to set reasonable expectations. 250 words are very little, but by writing everyday, I'm hoping to have a novel written by the end of this year. :]

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  20. I have tried to write on a schedule. Since I have kids, this is really the only way that I can get anything done. Sometimes I do really well, but then I have a busy month and I get off track and have to start again. Finding uninterrupted time and having the energy to write doesn't often go hand in had for me, so it is better if I tell myself that I have to write at a certain time no matter what!

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  21. Maybe instead of a time slot, since your schedule varies, you could go for a word slot. Like 'it's a crazy day! Maybe 500 words today.' When I'm on a project I have to work on it every day or I lose touch, momentum and motivation. (that's not to say I succeed, but to have the best writing, Ihave to).
    I write early in the morning when I have my coffee buzz. (I also have a predictable schedule and no children ;)

    One of the best ideas I heard was a professional author who has to do what she calls a 'writing unit,' every day. Not necessarily writing, but some sort of work progress. A unit is a chunk of work that has to do with her writing. So it could be Writing, drafting a query, calling her agent, making an order for promotional bookmarks, doing research..whatever.

    The other thing that works for me is the idea to set aside a writing time even if it's just fifteen minutes. If you don't feel like it, you don't have to write: But you aren't allowed to do Anything Else.

    Some thoughts :D

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  22. I'm a full-time writer, and even I don't write everyday. I think that trying might help one get in a groove, though. You can train yourself to write without having to reread what you've written the day before. And once you're able to to do that, you can pick it up at any time, even if you've skipped a day.

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  23. I can't write on a schedule. Teaching, two small kids, and a hubby who sometimes has to go back to work at night (meaning I do school and daycare pickups, afterschool activities, homework, dinner, baths, bedtimes, etc after my "real" job ends)... just doesn't allow it. There are times when I don't work on my WIP for a week or more. It happens. Especially during busy work times, like report cards and conferences, that take up extra amounts of home time to prepare.

    I used to feel guilty, especially when I started blogging and met this huge, awesome community of amazing writers, and I saw how many were querying and I cringed at the lovely giant printed out finished manuscripts. Jealous!!! I thought, you know, maybe they're just more dedicated. I should be.

    But I'm comfortable doing what I can do when I can do it. My 2 yr old is already up at 5:30, so getting up earlier is not much of an option and I need to be awake all day to teach 6 year olds. :) I make the time to play with my kids each night and I don't regret that. It's not a management system (or complete lack thereof) that works for everyone, but it works for me.

    What keeps me going is that I know that my idea is mine and no one else is going to write my book before I do. It's not going anywhere without me, so it's ok with me not to be on a schedule (which is very odd since I am otherwise very Type A, lol). Maybe it will take a few years to pull it all together. But I keep at it, so eventually, it will. :)

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  24. oh I like that quote and that topic...can I steal that quote and send it to my best friend who is frantically fighting her way through her PhD dissert?


    not too serious i hope

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