Developing a Writing Schedule
Writing is an interesting beast. It is a creative process that can take a route all of its own. But one of the things I love about it is moving forward with the process.
Which is why I’ve always admired authors who kept a writing schedule. Giving myself a deadline and blocks of time to write sounds at once freeing (Yes, it is okay to write NOW and ignore the dusting!) and a drag (what, writing is work???). I’ve even made a few attempts to set up a schedule, pulling out a big calendar and writing down releases, goals, and editing. I missed the first deadline and then forgot to check it again.
I’m a rampant daydreamer. Always have been. But my daydreams tend to not be too indepth or well developed. I didn’t realize that until I went to write the first one down. When I really had to describe a scene or lead up to why that big event I imagined happened, I fell in the love with the art of crafting a story. This is a process completely different than dreaming up an idea. It requires building rapport with characters, creating tension, weaving in clues, AND having that all important wonderful plot idea. Storytelling is what I’m addicted to. I call it writing, but it is so much more with all of its nuances and tension and beauty and power.
I don’t get a buzz from writing by sitting still. I’ve got to write.
So I do. Obsessively. But creating a goal or schedule to organize it into something like a business, something I could plan out to announce release dates, push myself to write more, or maybe keep my new publisher in the loop… ehn. It sounds like a grand idea, but calendars didn’t fit. I figured organizing my writing life wouldn’t happen – and I am usually a very organized person!
However, I have an app called abcNotes. It has cool multiple desktops and check boxes and all sorts of neat gadgets. I use it lots for different things – like when to update this blog! Trying to juggle reading for reviews, blogging, writing, and editing, I set up a desktop named “This Week” and started organizing what needed to be done before my already demented mind went into complete scatterbrain mode.
Within a few weeks, I had the system fairly well organized. I was putting myself down for goals that would stretch my writing progress but wouldn’t overwhelm. I aimed for half a chapter of my ‘side’ WIP, a new epic fantasy trilogy entitled Games of Fire. For my main WIP, Friends of my Enemy, I aimed at three chapters. Unless there was plotting.
The beauty of my little system is I can tweak it depending on my demands at home and work, acknowledging busy weeks and planning to write more on light ones. If I knew I’d hit a writing wall because I needed to plot more, that could be my ‘to do’ for that project. Having it all organized but set up for just the short term of a week out, took away a lot of stress while pushing me to meet my goal.
That’s when I realized I had created a writing schedule.
Giving myself gaps to make up for my variable weeks and a *gasp* potential vacation, I could suddenly plot out when I’d finish writing book 1 of Friends of my Enemy (early October) or the final book (mid February hopefully). By that time, I should be halfway through writing book 1 of Games of Fire and it will become my primary WIP. Suddenly, my writing life makes sense!
I still think that having a schedule treads a fine line between creativity and deadlines. I don’t want it to fall too far to one side or another. There are parts of writing that simply require more time – like figuring out a plot. It is why I’ve started writing two works at the same time. If one is stalled for some reason, the other is usually trucking along. I keep some editing in there too because that works when I’m out of steam to write. Reading comes around when even editing is beyond my mushed brain. I’m never without anything to do!
And having an organized ‘to do’ list to refer to when one project isn’t running keeps everything moving. Of course, sometimes a work is flowing and I don’t want to turn to something else on the list. Then having the goal of moving multiple projects forward helps. That and I’ve learned to trust that creativity isn’t lost. It flows into another project while simmering wonderful ideas so when I get back to the original project, things are really cooking.
So far, I like the result of my naturally evolved writing schedule. But its only been a few months. I don’t want to find myself frustrated if the big deadlines slip. I’m very task oriented and not meeting a goal might get too frustrating. I’m hopeful though as I’ve never been this productive. It feels good!
What about you? Do you keep a writing schedule or does the idea make you want to run screaming?