Monday, July 6, 2015

My Writing Schedule--Inspired or Not

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

When inspiration strikes, I grab a notebook and scribble down my thoughts. Inspiration is unpredictable so a notebook is always nearby, but this kind of inspiration is fleeting. It doesn’t allow for a regular writing schedule.

A better schedule: I sit at my writing desk every day, inspired or not. If I sit there, I’ll write. As I write, I become inspired. I have time to start and stop, to try new things, and to toss out what is not working. There’s pressure to do my best and to meet upcoming deadlines, but it doesn’t affect me the way it can when I’m off schedule and deadlines are looming.

          My daily writing schedule doesn’t require a certain number of hours or pages. I simply sit at my desk five or six or more times a day and work—sometimes for half an hour, usually for an hour or two, and sometimes for three hours or more at a time. (A comfortable chair is essential. Thanks for my gift, Dad!)

Life doesn’t run on a precise schedule nor does my writing, but writing is always on my schedule. I start early, around 6am. I sometimes work late, especially during monthly deadlines for the magazines I write for and edit and for this blog with its weekly midnight Sunday deadline.

          Every writing day is different depending on deadlines, but, if forced to give hard numbers, on average I write about four hours a day and edit about three hours, but not in solid blocks. I start off writing, but if my thoughts and ideas falter, I switch to editing or planning other writing projects.

When I need a break, I take the dogs out to play ball, work around the house, complete what’s on my To-Do List, read books to review, or organize my freelance projects. Then I return happily to my writing desk. Writing is not only one of my jobs, it’s my calling.

This schedule sounds idyllic, but writing and editing are hard work. Fresh eyes are needed so breaks are necessary. Also, I’ve given only average hours for writing.

In reality, during the monthly deadline week for the magazines, I often work fifteen hours a day for four or five days writing, editing, and proofing to get the issues to the printer on time. If I waited until the last minute to write my blog post, I write and edit just that for four or five hours straight. I also have to meet deadlines for my freelance projects whatever time that takes.

Add to that, I’m human so when there is too much going on (visitors, a sick dog, a broken refrigerator, etc.), I sometimes rebel by putting off writing—a double punishment to myself as I’m not doing something I love/need to do and then I feel more pressure which makes writing harder.

Don’t make writing harder for yourself. Include it in your daily schedule.

Writers write. That’s the true writing schedule I live by every day.

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