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.
This is an awesome post! I have been using writing goals (1000 words/day) for awhile now, but I think I am going to give your scheduling ideas a try. It always seems like I put off writing until it is 11:00 at night, and I won’t let myself go to bed until its finished. I hope you are having a great day, and I really appreciate you posting this.
Helpful advice, thank you. Full-time writing is a tricky balancing act. I do find writing lists help, but I can get carried away with them to the point of writing down when to have a shower. lol
I really enjoy your blog and nominated you for a Liebster Award. Keep up the great writing. And thanks for the advice.
I didn’t really explain what a Liebster Award was. Sorry. If you go to my blog everydaychick.net you will see how it works.
I struggled so hard to find a way to schedule and had to learn that some things in my life I could schedule some ways, like Grocery Store, Wednesdays. Some are more traditionally scheduled like the hours I have to homeschool my daughter. Others are a hybrid; writing is one of those.
I call writing my extreme sport. To publish well and publish often I set a hard date to finish, tell everyone I can so I will be horrifically embarrassed to fail, and then schedule blocks in my week to write. Most of the time I do write. Sometimes . . . I don’t. Which allows a similar result of the Writing app you wrote about earlier. Each block of available writing time becomes more and more desperate as I get closer to the deadline I have to get the ‘script to my editor, and that’s when it’s adrenaline, all-nighters, and monumental effort to get to…. THE END.
I really did like the tips above though. People should tinker and tinker until they find something that works for them.
Great thoughts here! My biggest problem is that I cannot seem to turn it off and on. Whenever I seem to schedule writing time, it doesn’t go well for me. When the words start to flow, I have to drop everything and write. Because of this, I’ve written entire first drafts of manuscripts on my phone. Sounds crazy, but it works!
I love this post. No matter who you are this applies. Maybe you could also do a post sometime about when you know you are ready to shift from sometime writer to part-time to full-time ?
Anyways thanks again