If you are someone who is lucky enough to call themselves a full-time writer, its very likely that you have already discovered that it’s not as glorious as it sounds. Is it awesome? Yes! But, every job comes with it downsides. Many people envision writers with amble amount of time on their hands, spending their days “writing” in cute coffee shops, connecting with nature on a picnic blanket in the park, or doing “research” on fun vacations or in fascinating museums. Many people assume that writers have a plethora of time available to them to do other things like errands, house cleaning, babysitting, or fun days/nights out with friends because your schedule is so flexible, right?
These writing fantasies couldn’t be further from the truth. When writing is your full-time job that’s exactly what it is- a full-time job. One of the biggest challenges of having such a free-form job is scheduling. It’s very easy to let other things get in the way of your writing because we all have other commitments: children, spouses, hobbies, chores, errands, and friends. When you don’t punch the clock for a 9-5 job, it’s incredibly easy to keep pushing off the one thing you really should be doing because you have the whole day ahead of you and there’s always tomorrow. But, if you want to keep writing full-time you need to find a way to make writing your priority. It’s way easier said than done, I know that. But then again, there’s nothing glamorous about not getting your work done.
A few days ago, on Huffington Post’s I NEED COFFEE blog they talked about three really helpful tips for scheduling your writing life:
- Find your scheduling method.
You need to find a way of scheduling that works for you. Do you want your schedule to be electronic so you can easily access it from whenever you are? If so, you need to think about what type of tools you want in your scheduling software. There are so many choices out there that if you don’t pick the right one for you, it isn’t going to help. Maybe you prefer to hand write your schedule? Then you need to get an agenda pad that’s easy to use and easy to carry around. You need to find a way to keep it neat and organized or else you will end up missing the very things you started that agenda pad for.
2. Schedule everything, but schedule small.
If you are getting a scheduling software or agenda to just put down to “Write novel” in it, you are wasting your time. You need to go deeper than that. Maybe give yourself a particular word count to reach, a certain scene to write, or a chapter to complete. Maybe a character or a past event needs more developing, schedule that too. You need to think small when scheduling your day, week, or even month. Anything you do pertaining to your writing needs to be scheduled. It forces you to stay on track and focus on the task at hand. You can worry about everything else you need to do when it comes up on your schedule.
3. Learn to buffer.
The problem with scheduling is that we can easily get carried away with it. We can become so obsessed with it that we find ourselves scheduling every minute of our lives. That’s why we need to buffer. Leave 15-30 minutes between tasks to breathe. Take a break, get some fresh air, check on your kids, do a few quick house chores, stretch- anything. Going from one task, to the other, to the other will make anyone crazy. You will be much more successful if you buffer your time and take those well deserved breaks.