Friday, May 6, 2011

The Benefits of Scheduling Daily Writing Time

When I first started writing I avoided scheduling in time to write because it felt too much like school work. I believed it stifled my creativity and I didn’t like the rigidity of having to write on queue. I wanted to write when I felt inspired. The problem with this is I became reliant on that often elusive writing vibe. Other important priorities in life took precedence. I wrote less and, when I did eventually write, any talent I might have enjoyed had grown rusty.

It wasn’t until I started working with a daily writing schedule that my work improved. I discovered the joys of scheduling and the thrill of achieving goals. The possibility of completing a novel suddenly became attainable. Distractions didn’t sneak in as often, writing leapt up in my list of priorities, and I realised I didn’t need to hear the whisperings of my muse before I could write anything halfway decent.

The first draft of my first book took nine years to complete. The first draft of my first scheduled book took three months.

In summary, scheduling daily writing time:
Raises productivity;
Increases our writing priorities;
Reduces distractions;
Improves our writing;
Helps to make goals and deadlines achievable;
And pushes back those niggling doubts.

Why do you--or don’t you--schedule in writing time? How much time do you spend writing per day?

Pic: Big Ben, London, England

35 comments:

  1. It surprised me at first that people DIDN'T do this, just because I've always written for a couple hours at night--but then I realized why.

    I started writing in high school when all I HAD was a few hours after my homework got done. So, glad I started the habit, but didn't happen for everyone.

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  2. I always have a schedule for everything and I always follow it and stick to it :) Good organization is the key to productivity!

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  3. I'm a lazy so and so and rebel against anything scheduled - hence I am where I am! LOL!!

    I am in total AWE at you very disciplined and fabulously organised writers - good for y'all!! Take care
    x

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  4. Love scheduling... just need to learn the part about sticking to it :)
    Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

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  5. This is something I have NOT scheduled but after reading your blog, I am going to try. Thank for the pointers.

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  6. I'm with you 100% on this. If you don't treat your writing like a profession, nobody will believe you're a professional. I've lost friendships over this, but my writing IS my work. Don't try to bully me into going to the movies, listening to you whine, or babysitting for you during my scheduled writing time. Would you do that if I were a lawyer?

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  7. I found out the hard way that scheduling was the best way to go. My mind clicks in almost automatically causing problems when I'm not in a place to write -- like being x-rayed or something. ;)

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  8. NaNo did prod me to write more, so maybe there's something to that!

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  9. I must schedule writing time or I won't get anything done (I'm too much of a procrastinator). I try to work at least two hours a day while the boys nap. Sometimes I work longer than that, and sometimes I work less.

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  10. Chelsey, it's a great habit to have started early on.

    Dezzy, that explains how you manage to get so much done!

    Old Kitty, ha, I'm not disciplined. That's why I need a schedule and a reminder to stick to it ;)

    Charmaine, yeah sticking to it is the hardest part ;)

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  11. I don't usually schedule writing time--although there are parts of the day that I'm more likely to write in. Now that the A-Z Challenge is over (I really slacked with writing last month due to it) I probably should set up a set a schedule.

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  12. Shanda, I hope it helps.

    Anne, yeah it's funny (not) how so many don't understand that writing is also a career.

    Mary, oooh, you have special powers. I hope you use them for good ;)

    Alex, hehe. NaNo was brilliant in so many ways.

    Emily, yep, yep, yep. I'm the same. Wish I didn't understand the meaning of procrastination. lol.

    Golden, yep, I slacked off during the AZ challenge as well. It was a good thing I had previously decided to take a break from my WIP. Good luck getting back into the swing of writing again.

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  13. I definitely schedule time too! I aim for 2 to 3 hours depending on the day.

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  14. When I am working on a manuscript, it's four hours in the morning. I'd go longer but by lunch, I typically reach a saturation point. Sometimes, I'll work a bit at night but it's the mornings where I really rely on that engine to produce.

    Cool question.

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  15. Great post. I would love to share this with my writing group. Many of us struggle with seeing our writing as a profession and therefore squeeze it in like a hobby instead. Thanks for the helpful tips. Pam Williams

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  16. I've been trying to schedule about an hour for writing, or at least 500 words a day. If I am on a roll though, I don't stop!

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  17. I have been thinking of my 'scheduled writing time' as from about 6 pm - 9:30 pm every night. Truth is though, I'm good at procrastinating. So I will eat dinner while watching a DVD...then get to writing...only I do other stuff before I actually GET to the writing. So I'm thinking I need to say "Right, for the next HOUR you are going to just write...THEN you can procrastinate for 10 mins...then back to writing."

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  18. The first half of this post perfectly describes me. The second half I should like to do soon - making a writing plan!

    Duncan In Kuantan

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  19. Jennifer, that's a good amount of time. It's amazing how much can be done in just 2 hours.

    Suze, yep, morning is the best time for me as well.

    Pam, yep, when we decide to make our writing more than a hobby, then we should remember to change our habits to match.

    Emily, and isn't it wonderful when we're on a roll :)

    Trisha, yeah, sometimes it takes a few trial runs before we find a schedule that truly works.

    Duncan, hehehe. I hope it helps then :)

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  20. I think a lot of professional writers do it this way. Andrew Smith (who wrote The Marbury Lens) talks about this on his blog. I don't schedule daily writing time because I just don't have the energy to write during the week after a long, draining day at work. However, I have a pretty reliable writing schedule during the weekends and my one work-at-home day. It's cool to see how dramatic your own results were!

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  21. I don't schedule my writing, but I do timeline my novels. I usually give myself three months (or one, if it's November). That achieves the same thing, I think.

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  22. I must be getting tot his late. I write every weekday for varying lenghts of time from one hour to six.

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  23. The difference between nine years and three months certainly proves scheduling works!

    I don't schedule specific times but I know what time I've got free each week and make sure I write during it. It helps to know I should be writing but being a little flexible makes it easy to grab an unscheduled time that pops up as well.

    Ellie Garratt

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  24. I HAVE to schedule since I work. I also have other duties like cooking and cleaning. IT WOULDN'T Happen if I didn't.

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  25. I have to admit that I go through phases of scheduling writing time and letting life and other commitments get in the way. I've recently started cutting back on obligations to simplify my life, take care of my health and work on my writing more.

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  26. I agree. It's difficult to start but even if you start with small daily writing goals, you can eventually increase.

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  27. I schedule time. Mornings usually. I find afternoons hard, but today I had a writing date for the afternoon and found it very productive. Maybe the change of scenery? Shrug.

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  28. I didn't start writing consistently until I made deadlines for myself--a specific word count per day. I always thought I was the kind of writer who would just wait until inspiration struck, and then it'd be amazing from there on out.

    But really, inspiration strikes most often when I'm actually AT the keyboard.

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  29. kind of yes and no...
    I don't schedule - because my life is so full - I need to stay flexible.
    But I plan to write most nights and the odd afternoon if ever the house is quiet.

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  30. I sometimes fall behind, but I schedule in 1/2 - 1 hour a day. Things get done this way.

    Have a great weekend.

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  31. Scheduling time to write is always a great idea. I too try to clock in few hours of writing time everyday, and it feels good if the daily goals are met. I get more done when I follow my schedule.

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  32. very informative, thanks for sharing.

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  33. I try to write every day. It doesn't always work, but usually I can get at least 500 to 1K in. And when a draft is done, I try to revise at least a few pages a day. Usually I'm more productive than that, but setting a goal of working with my drafts every day helps to maintain forward progress.

    It's amazing how much scheduling makes a difference!

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  34. Sarah, a lot can still be done on weekends alone

    Amie, yep, that definitely works too.

    Laura, six hours is impressive

    Ellie, oh yes, flexibility is key.

    Shelly, yeah, if only cooking and cleaning happened on their own ;)

    Susanne, sounds like a good plan -- especially the part about taking care of your health.

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  35. Clarissa, exactly

    M Pax, yep, I find change of scenery helps too :)

    Meagan, great point. I find the same. We shouldn't wait for inspiration. It usually comes while we are writing anyway.

    Michelle, a plan to write is as good as a schedule.

    Medeia, excellent!

    Rachna, it does feel good when goals are met :)

    Toyin, thanks

    Carolina, I believe writing everyday is important. It doesn't have to be a lot. Like you said, it's helps the forward progress.

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I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.