5 Awesome Tips to Keep Your Writing on Schedule
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Do you suffer from Hectic Schedule Syndrome? Do you find yourself falling short of your writing goals because of kids, summer, day jobs, or other reasons? Then ask your doctor about Wricramis. Side effects include more productivity and a sense of accomplishment.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if life worked like that for real? But life doesn’t. We could also wish for more time in the day—a common refrain for me—but that isn’t going to happen either. (Barring some pretty extraordinary leaps in our understanding of physics, that is.) So, what do we do?
While I don’t have all the answers, I do have a few tips and suggestions based on my busy life. Let me give you a quick snapshot so you understand how and where these ideas and hard learned lessons come from. First, I work full-time as a program director, which often means 50-hour weeks. With my hour-long commute each way, there goes about 10-11 hours of my day. After work on Mondays, my son has swimming lessons. The first and third Tuesdays are committee/church council meetings. Wednesdays are a church day for my son and me both. Thursdays see hand bell choir rehearsals and my son’s Cub Scout meetings. The days I don’t have stuff scheduled are what’s left for family days, chores, hiking, writing, quilting, graphics, etc. But I do make time to write. Let me show you how.
Tips for Making Time to Write
Use Technology to your Advantage
My first tactic is to use cloud storage for all my writing. That way, all I need is cell service or an internet connection and I can work on something. Cloud storage, though, has been a miracle for me for not having to remember to bring a specific device, flash drive, etc. (Of course, I back up that cloud storage onto my own storage devices just in case.)
I also make sure my phone or iPad is with me. And that they have the appropriate apps installed. So coupled with this first tactic, I always have access to my material. Granted, typing on a manuscript on my iPhone is not exactly the easiest, but it works in a pinch. I can work during any spare minutes and always get something done.
At home, I work on my laptop, which makes it easy for me to have my computer with wherever I am in the house. I can sit watching my husband and son play video games while still getting some work done. On nights my son decides to sleep in my bed, I can sit by him while also continuing to work. You get the idea—portability is king in my house.
The Old Fashioned Way Works, Too
What about when there’s no cell signal? That’s when I turn to pen and paper. I almost always have some on me. On the rare occasion I don’t, I’m not shy about trying to find some. I might not have my work with me, but I can make notes about characters, write scenes to type later, etc. Sure, it’s not ideal, but when I’m working under a deadline, this can help keep me on track.
This next tip is more of a lesson learned rather than a trick per se. Don’t be shy about pulling out your writing paraphernalia when there’s down time somewhere. Sitting at swimming lessons? iPad is out. Dinner at church? That tends to be a toss up of whether I have signal or not, but I’m often working on something in between stuff. Of course, I am careful—and I suggest you are as well—to make sure I’m not writing at inappropriate times or ignoring people who need my attention.
Set Reasonable Writing Goals
I also set goals for myself, like the ones I shared with y’all back in January. How am I doing on those, you ask? Well, Scath Oran: Poetry from the Otherworld releases September 22, 2018. (Pre-order your copy now!) This is particularly exciting to me because it will be my first solo project to hit print. On the down side, I am behind with the novel in my goals. But, that’s okay because things have happened between when I set my goals and now. It does mean I need to go back and re-evaluate my timelines to keep my motivation going and not overwhelm myself with trying to keep an unrealistic schedule.
It is important to come up with a realistic set of goals to have a prayer of keeping it. Phoebe Darqueling talked about making sure goals were individual and realistic earlier this year. Perhaps one of the biggest things that fouls people up—creating a schedule or goals that are so out of line with reality it’s not even funny. In one of my writing groups, they are working on an exercise of how to complete a first draft of a novel in 90 days. There’s just no way I could try to participate. My schedule doesn’t allow it, so to even attempt it would be insane. It would be such a set up for falling behind and getting frustrated. It just doesn’t make sense for me. So as Socrates said, “Know thyself” and respect your time limitations when setting goals.
The Power of Schedules
Speaking of those deadlines, even if I have an external time limit, I set myself a deadline of my own. That way I’m not hitting that drop-dead point and scrambling to make the real deadline later on. I intentionally set my personal deadline earlier than I really need it. Doing so gives me that little bit of pressure to get something done by a certain date, but still gives me some wiggle room if I miss my own deadline.
Now that my son’s old enough, I use scheduling as a lesson for him as well. By teaching him how to create and follow schedules, it makes me focus more them myself. Why? Because I want to teach him by example as much as through my words. Furthermore, by making sure I block out a little time for me in my week, I’m also teaching him good care habits. I get a chance to recharge so I can be there for him in other capacities.
Grant Permission for Misses
My final piece of advice is to give yourself permission to get off schedule. Now, this is a fine line because you don’t want to become so complacent that the schedule doesn’t matter anymore. The trick is to find that place where if you get behind, you’re not overwhelmed trying to catch up or feeling guilty for getting off schedule. Those feelings often lead to shame and disappointment, which are not conducive to getting stuff done. However, the flip side is that you do want to keep just that little bit of pressure on. That’s what keeps us accountable and provides a source of motivation to keep moving forward.
So, there you have it. It’s not a magic pill or an enchanted piece of cutlery, but I hope these ideas can help you work to stay on schedule and keep moving forward in your writing. Give these a try and let me know how it goes! Also, if you have any other tricks or tips for staying on schedule, leave them in the comments as I would love to know!
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