Creating a Writing Schedule

Let me know if this sounds familiar.

You sit down to work on a writing project, and suddenly different browser windows open unbidden in your mind and clamor for attention.

“But what about that short story you haven’t finished yet?”

“Don’t you think you should work on your next blog post right now?”

“When are you going to finally get around to writing query letters to magazine editors about some of your article ideas?”

“Don’t you think you should probably focus more on Y and save X for later, since it might not bring in as much money, and it’ll take more time to finish?”

Then your brain shuts off, and you go looking for a snack. Or a drink. Or both.

I vote for both.

This is why I’m working on my very own writing schedule. I’m hoping it’ll help me keep all other mental browser windows closed while I’m working on something I’ve decided to work on during a particular hour of the day.

Here are the steps I have in mind:

  1. Make a list of all the writing projects I want to spend time on this month and decide what percentage of my writing time I want to devote to each. This will help me decide how many days per month and per week I’ll want to allocate time for each project.
  2. Find or create a calendar with week-at-a-glance and month-at-a-glance for my writing schedule and write in my daily projects, which I can tick off when I’m done with them. I might even get stickers for this. Or different-colored Sharpies. I love those things.
  3. Set reminders on my mobile phone for my daily and weekly writing goals, so I won’t forget. I like the free Check Mark app for this (I also use it to remind me of household chores). I’m still getting acquainted with all the features of Evernote Plus.
  4. Review and revise my writing goals for the month at least every week.

I can’t forget reading time, either. It’s books like Rob Parnell’s Easy Cash Writing: How to Make a Living as a Freelance Writer that are helping me find new ways to bring in money as a freelance writer. And I will always love a good story, so I need my novel-reading time, especially if I hope to write good stories, too.

Have I forgotten anything? I’m still in the process of following these four steps. Do you already have a working schedule for your writing in place?

What has helped you create it, revise it, implement it, and stick to it (or to some version of the original, since what works best for you is more important than how it might look to others)?

I always look forward to your comments, so if you have anything to share on this point, please be generous and share your ideas with me and future readers of this post.

Thank you, as always, for stopping by, and have a great rest of your week! 🙂

P.S. The book link in this post isn’t an affiliate link, because I haven’t yet figured out how to do that. I just became an Amazon affiliate, but I’m not sure where to put the code in my WordPress blog. If you know how to do this, I’d appreciate some tips. Figuring this out will be one of my projects this month.

Oh, and I’ve no intention of posting affiliate links for anything I wouldn’t use or haven’t used myself. I learned years ago that I can’t sell anything that I don’t sincerely believe will improve the lives of those to whom I’m trying to sell it. Sales is about helping and serving the good of others, not just making a buck. So, if you see in a future blog post an affiliate link for a book, know that I wouldn’t recommend it unless I’d read and enjoyed it myself (or was in the middle of reading and enjoying it).

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10 thoughts on “Creating a Writing Schedule

  1. I think it’s also important to understand yourself. Just like the creative process is unique to everyone, I think planning and preparation is too. For example, I write better in the mornings. I write better when I have nothing else on my mind (stress,etc.) When building yourself a schedule, it’s important to be mindful of your tendencies and to build around them.

    Like always, thought provoking posts 🙂
    Thanks Sarah!

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    1. This is something I’ve been learning, too, and it can be frustrating sometimes, trying one planning method or method of organization at a time and having a hard time sticking with it, because it just doesn’t fit.
      There was a time when I called myself a night owl, and I preferred to do my writing (or college work) at night, when everyone else was asleep. Nowadays, since I’m up early with the kids, anyway, and I have a chunk of time free before I have to leave for my part-time job — which wears me out for pretty much the rest of the day — I’ve been doing more writing in the morning. This morning, I worked on my next blog post. For the rest of the day, I think I’ll write my daily journal entry and work on some more greeting card verses.
      Thanks, Kevin, for another thoughtful comment. One of these days, I’d actually like a “room of [my] own” for writing. Five-year-olds are great at staging one distraction after another, so evenings have actually become the WORST time of day for me to write. Because I don’t handle interruptions well — at all. I get a little unhinged, to be honest. I need to get away from the computer, then, and just be Mom. 😉 This is the first time I’ve written that in so many words, though, so thank you! 🙂

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  2. I dont know that I say I have write schedule, but I try to think about my three WIPs and which one spawns the strongest aha moment I go with. If that doesnt then I wriite a couple pages on all three. I also leave time to write in my journal, about my projects, my day, whatever is cluttering up my mind. Disclaimer: I haven’t been following this pattern for the last month due to work and other stress factors. Today I am getting back on track. Best of luck with your system. Have you looked at bulllet journaling? It might give you some ideas. Cheers

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    1. I haven’t heard of bullet journaling. Is that just journaling with bullet points, or is there more to it?
      I have a few WIPs I want to finish, too, and I’m hoping a writing schedule will help me focus on one at a time. I guess we’ll see. I’ll post again when I find something that works well for me, or when I run across something else I’d like to try. Thanks again for stopping in and sharing our own way of doing things. When I’m journaling, I find it pretty easy to just focus on that — the brain, heart, and soul dump.
      Part of my problem, I think, is my own mindset when I’m working on something I hope to publish. It’s a decidedly different mindset from the one I have when I’m journaling.
      That’s worth exploring, I think.
      Cheers to you, too, and have a great rest of your week! 🙂

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      1. Bullet journaling is like journaling ocd. You set it up like a calendar, planner, to do list, and then you use different colors, tabs, whatever to denote different projects, or tasks. It is a cool idea, but I’m not ocd enough to do it.

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      2. I checked out the link you gave, and it looks similar to — but more well-developed than — a planning method I’d read about and tried before (years ago). I’m inclined to give this one a try, though I have to admit part of the appeal is the excuse it gives me to buy a new notebook. And pens. 😉 Thanks for sharing the link! :))

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  3. I’ve got a writing schedule as well, and it really helps me focus. It’s not to strict, so it doesn’t say I have to write on the sequel to Rise of the Sparrows from 9am to 10.30am on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but it does include time for writing just for myself, and it does include time for research, naming people and things like that 🙂 It’s more forgiving than other schedules I’ve seen, but it’s perfect for me 🙂 Good luck establishing your own!

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    1. It’s not easy to shut out distractions around here, but I’m thinking it’ll be easier if I don’t have my mind conspiring against me, too, and suggesting an assortment of other writing projects that I’m neglecting in favor of the one I’m working on. I don’t know yet how strict I’ll make mine; I need to find a balance between flexibility and structure, so that I have just enough of both. I’m guessing it’ll take some trial and error. 😉 I’ll work on my list of writing projects for the month today, which will include stand-bys like my daily journaling, which helps keep me sane. Thank you, Sarina, for another thoughtful comment! Just got home from work and read it, and it has brightened my afternoon. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day. 🙂

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