You might think it’d be easy for me to stick to writing schedules, mainly because if I don’t write, I don’t eat.
The truth is that while it’s easy to complete work for clients, making sure my own writing gets done is more of a challenge. Client work has a clear deadline, and someone’s expecting it – two things that make ‘writer’s block’ fade into oblivion.
In amongst paid work, I’m writing and editing two books at the moment. These books don’t have clear deadlines and nobody’s expecting them, meaning it’s sometimes unbelievably tempting to not work on them at all if I don’t feel like it, or if life gets too busy. Not to mention that it can feel outrageously indulgent, sitting down to work on something for myself when there’s so much else waiting to be done.
So schedules come in handy for those times when your mind is on a mission to talk you out of getting things done. I’ve tried all kinds of planning techniques for writing sessions, from buying huge year planners to stick on the wall, to simple calendar tick-offs on each day I managed to write (something Jerry Seinfeld apparently did!)
These methods failed. The wall planners didn’t work because I faithfully wrote down all my sessions in advance and if I missed one I felt like a failure – so I wouldn’t do the next one, nor the next, and so on. The calendar ticking was far too simple to actually hold me to account, so was quickly abandoned.
After plenty of trial and error, these days I’ve found a few sure-fire scheduling methods that have really been working for me. If you’ve got something you’ve been trying to work on and keep abandoning, they might be well worth giving a go.
Plan around failure
Sounds weird, doesn’t it? But you need a schedule you know you’re going to be able to stick to. One that can fit easily into your life, not one that overwhelms you whenever you think about it.
For example, you could decide to devote an hour a day to something (seven hours a week). That doesn’t sound too intimidating at first, but you probably won’t stick to it. There will be some days when you just won’t feel like it, some days when it all seems far too difficult, and others when your plans are changed at the last minute.
So try five hours a week instead, so you’ve got some room to manoeuvre.
Be rigid with timing
Your five hours should, whenever possible, be spent at the same time on each day. You’ll then start to see that hour as a habit you don’t really need to think about, making it far easier to stick to.
Writing for myself is different from writing for clients, so I need to create that sense of difference before I begin. I work in a different room, I turn my phone off, I block the internet, and I always brew a pot of coffee before I start!
My writing schedules consist of four hours spent each week on each book. I make a tally chart in my notebook to record the week and how many hours I complete as I go.
It’s as simple as that, and it’s enough to generate a real sense of progress and reward as I make that eighth tally at the end of each week!
Have you got any scheduling tips? I’d love to hear them if so - just get in contact!
I'm a friendly and professional writer, reviewer and editor who works with warmth, humour and flexibility.
How to become every freelancer's favourite client!Read more
Know what you're good at, and rejection won't seem so bad!Read more
How setting a speaking challenge forced me to talk confidently about the work I love.Read more
Finding the 'what's', 'whys' and 'hows' of your business will help people connect with you.Read more
November means #NaNoWriMo - so whatever you're working on, it's time to get it done!Read more
Ironically, it's when you're writing about yourself that you will sound least like you. Hiring a writer to do it for you can bring a whole host of benefits.Read more
Learn how to live happily ever after through the power of storytellingRead more
Writing books is big business - or at least it can be, if you get it right. For starters, this means not rushing the process!Read more
There's a lot of vague career advice out there, so if you're looking for insight that goes beyond "be yourself and follow your passion" you may have to leap before you look!Read more
Do you edit your work before you publish it?Read more
Creating a schedule can be a difficult task, especially when you're planning for work you're not being paid for - or that nobody is expecting! Here's how to get started on crafting a time plan that will work for you.Read more
If you know someone who already has everything, give them something truly unique - special words.Read more
With a new year on the horizon, why not make a resolution to tell your life story? Committing your personal tales to paper can be a rich and rewarding experience for you to write and others to read...for generations to come. Here's how to get started.Read more
Are you often left with the feeling that you don't quite know enough about all the online tools you can use to promote your business? How about website analytics...shouldn't you be checking them every five minutes just like the experts say? Relax - here's how to take advantage of all the advice available online, by defining exactly what YOU want to know.Read more
Is time getting the better of you? With a growing business, several passion projects on the go, books to read and friends I'd quite like to see, I was starting to feel overwhelmed...until I decided to take a closer look at planning my time more effectively. Here's how you can do the same.Read more
BOO! Like a ripe pumpkin Hallowe'en has rolled around yet again, so what better time to extol the benefits of ghostwriting, definitely not just the province of bargain-bin bound celebrities.Read more
An encounter with a corporate headhunter made me question my career - why was I still doing something I didn't love? Here's how I formulated my corporate escape plan and found a career I truly enjoy.Read more
Going it alone, releasing yourself from the shackles of a traditional nine-to-five, is exhilarating. It's also incredibly scary! To celebrate my first quarter-year in business, here are some of the most important lessons I've learned from the front line.Read more
Regular blog posts - especially if you run a business - can drastically increase your following, as well as helping you beat the competition by describing how you do things your way. Read on for a few more great reasons why you should join the blogging revolution!Read more