I’ve been at this almost-daily writing since mid-October of 2014. Or another way to look at it, I’ve ONLY been at this since mid-October of 2014. Either way, I’ve only recently realized the importance of Schedule.
I’ve read other blogs on this topic and they made perfect sense. Like The Importance of Routines by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
I didn’t skip over them. I read them, absorbed what was useful to me, and moved on.
But again, only recently has it all come together for me. I’m gonna tell you how.
Now first, let me disarm the detractors.
The first thing most younger (meaning less-experienced) writers toss out at me is my own odd schedule. When I mention practically anything about writing to them, they say some version of “Oh, but you start at 3 in the morning. I could never do that.”
My first response is a shrug and “Okay.” And the second is “So?”
The point is, we all have 24 hours in a day. It’s up to each of us to determine how we use that 24 hours. I use about 6 hours of it sleeping. Whether that 6 hours comes out of the middle of the night or the middle of the day, it’s still only 6 hours and it still leaves 18 hours during which I can do all the other things I want to do.
Awhile back I realized when I was a child there were only three channels on TV, yet there was ALWAYS something good on to watch. Pretty much every day in every time slot we had to decide which show to watch and which to pass up, and it was seldom an easy decision.
Today we have hundreds of channels, yet there are only a smattering of programs that are well-written or well-acted enough to even attract my attention. Only one show keeps me riveted day after day, and it’s a re-run of the old NYPD Blue series. Excellent acting, excellent writing, great camera work. It’s a free course on writing in the crime or detective or police procedural genre for the short story, novel and screen.
The beginning of my schedule is about an hour after I wake up and climb outta the rack. The first hour is coffee, emails, other people’s blog posts and so on.
So in my schedule, I have roughly 12 to 14 hours available to me to write, from 3 or 4 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. Now, my “job” is to carve three to four hours out of that time to actually commit words to the page. That’s 3,000 to 4,000 words or thereabouts.
And I find (here’s the power part) if I can get the first 2,000 words or so committed to the page before I go walking (so that’s two to three normal to short writing sessions), I’ll make my daily goal of 3,000 words for that day. If I don’t, there’s almost no chance.
I’m not sure why. I still have plenty of time. There’s just something about coming back from my walk and knowing I have only another 500 to 1000 words to go that invigorates me. And then, as often as not, I shoot right past the goal.
But again, it has nothing to do with the “odd” hours I keep. I still sleep only 6 hours per day and have available the other 18 hours. I just adjusted my sleep/wake time to suit what I consider to be important for me.
I go to bed a little earlier so I miss a lot of stuff on TV that, if I were awake, I’d stare at like a zombie. And then I wake earlier when the world is quieter and more conducive (for me) to writing.
I don’t recommend it for anyone else. We have different lives, you and I, and we prioritize differently. That’s all right.
But what I DO recommend is that—if you want to write (or write more)—you set a goal and then adjust your schedule around that goal to better enhance the chance that you will attain it.
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