Scheduling for the Writer

Filed in Writing Tips and Techniques by on August 24, 2013, you’ve decided that the life of a writer is for you. You see it all in your mind – waking luxuriously, not worrying about that blasted alarm clock blaring in your ear; rising from your rumpled bed, stretching and walking slowly to that massive bank of windows, drawing inspiration from the (fill in the blank – mountains, lake, ocean, desert landscape); pouring a cup of hot Kona coffee and leisurely reading the paper; sitting down at your computer with your notes fr – … uh-oh. Here’s where your dream shifts and vanishes.

Why Schedule?

“I stopped punching a clock when I quit my miserable job. Why should I start punching a clock now?” That’s true – but if you want to earn anything even remotely above federal poverty limits, your boss (you) needs to get strict with her employee (also you). Sure, your boss knows when you have that doctor’s appointment, or when you’ve scheduled a lunch date with a friend of yours and she’ll give that time to you.

Writers spend the majority of their days writing – that’s just a fact of life, according to the Study Hacks website. If we’re writing for clients, our work has to be accurate and factually correct. This means we visit the library and Google. So, add research to your daily schedule.

Ditch that misty dream of waking up in a pure-white house with the most luxurious furniture and appliances. You’re a writer, so you’re going to wake up in a house filled with noise, spilled milk and, uh, by the way, that’s cat puke right there. Reality, my friend. Life. You live life, so use it. Incorporate it into your – yes, I know – your schedule. Get one of the kids to wipe up the spilled juice while you deal with the (hurk!) cat puke. Once you have all the kids dressed in semi-coordinated clothing with sort-of nutritious lunches clutched in their little hands, usher them out the door and slug down that last of that cold coffee. Oh, yuck! Once the dishes are done, it’s time for you to retreat to your messy writer’s abode. To, you know, work and write. Sign out of Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Yes, sign out of those writer’s motivational groups, too Open up those research tabs. And get started.

But … But Writing Just … Happens, Doesn’t It?

No, Virginia, writing doesn’t “just happen.” You have to put yourself into that mindset every day you’ve committed to writing. No matter whether you plan to write about child behavior or your novel, you need to have a plan.

If you hear those “wanna-be” writers say, “Oh, I just wait until the muse hits,” shake your head. Once The Muse hears those words, she’ll cross that “writer’s” address off her schedule and won’t ever show up. You have to make yourself write, by whatever means necessary. Take that BICHOK (butt in chair, hands on keyboard) posture and work.

When is Your Brain Most Productive?

That all depends on your personal body clock. You might be a true night-owl. Your brain clicks along at ninety miles an hour at 2 a.m. Or you’re the proverbial early bird and as soon as the sun’s rays peek into your bedroom, you’re wide-awake and ready to write as soon as you’ve had breakfast and read some mentally stimulating editorial articles.

Study Hacks carried out an informal (read non-scientific) study and found that some writers work best early in the morning while others could only work at night. The only time they couldn’t start working? During the dreaded mid-afternoon energy slump. For some reason, these writers couldn’t count on their brains to be productive, so they scheduled easier tasks for mid-afternoon.

Use Those Deadlines!

If you’re working on articles for clients, take the deadlines they give you and write them into your planner. Then give yourself just a couple days less to submit the assignment. Why give yourself a few less days?

First, you’ll impress your clients with your timeliness. Second, if they find any issues that need correcting (i.e., revision/editing), you can deal with that and still get the assignment resubmitted by the original deadline.

If a whiteboard is more your thing, use it. Just get those deadlines up where you can see them.

About Technology and Scheduling

Google has a fantastic calendar – I know. I use it. Schedule your deadlines in and Google will alert you when your work is due. Got a smartphone? Sync it with your Google calendar so that, when you’re out, you won’t miss the alert, suggests Caitlin Muir in the “Author Media” website.

If you want to be seen as a professional, act like one. Respect your writing schedule and that of your clients.

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Barbara Alvarez

About the Author ()

Barbara Alvarez has been writing professionally since 2008, after graduating from the Journalism and Mass Communications program at New Mexico State University. Barbara has written for national and international clients. Her work appears mainly online. In addition to nonfiction writing for other clients, Barbara has been writing fiction. She has a completed novel in the revision process; She is still deciding whether to shoot for traditional publishing or self-publishing for this book. She has also written a romantic novella, published at the end of March, and plans a sequel. Barbara is also working on an outline for a saga that will span about 75 years when completed.