Midweek Writer-Rummage - A Writing Schedule: How Important Is It?

Writer's Clock

When I first started writing, I had a schedule. 

Taking time out to draw up a workable schedule is a bit like making lists, and I love lists.

It also feeds the procrastination bunny.

But, once it was done, I stuck to my schedule.

Then, as time went on, and ‘life’ started to encroach more on my life, the schedule - which evolved as my life changed - gradually fell by the wayside.

Over the years, I’ve drawn up different schedules, embraced them whole-heartedly only to realise, weeks later, that I had, in actual fact, abandoned them.

These days, finding time to write is a struggle.  I grab a morning here, a couple of hours there, never the same day or time from one week to the next.  Before I know it, a week or more has passed, and I have written not a word.  Why?  I’m sure the lack of a writing schedule has played a big part.  The reason I haven't done one?  Laziness.

To quote Jane Yolen, “ writers write”.  Like with everything else, the only way to get better at writing is to do it every day.  As a writer, your work is to write.  Writing does not get relegated; it does not become something you do as and when.  If, for example, you are a reporter and your work is to report, reporting does not become an optional part of your life.  Just because writing is, more often than not, ‘work’ that is done at home, it does not mean that other things should be allowed to take priority.

As a writer, your writing is an important part of who you are.  Your writing matters.  In the same way that you schedule important tasks, like appointments, schedule time to write.  This transforms ‘writing’ from the intimidating, in the form of the blank page/screen, to the predictable.

I have come to realise that certain things should be sorted before the actual work of writing commences:

  • Develop a routine which signals to your unconscious self that writing is imminent.  The one I had, which I shall revisit, involved a freshly made cup of coffee, which I drank while looking out the window.  This was followed by choosing the classical soundtrack that would accompany the day’s writing.
  • Have a designated writing space – this can be as wonderfully decadent as a writing room (one day …) or as practical as the dining room table.Which is where I usually do my writing.Our dining table is fairly large, and allows me the luxury of spreading out my stuff.
  • Clear the electronic clutter, as in emails and whatever social media you’re into.  Then ‘unplug’.

The way I arrange my schedule:

  • Get out my weekly calendar and block out any ‘free’ time.
  • Decide when my best writing time is, and be honest about it.
  • Decide the length of my writing time.

Having said that, remember, it’s okay to be flexible about it.

It’s okay to miss a day here and there on those occasions when ‘life’ gets up close and personal, and refuses to be ignored.

What matters at the end of the day, from a writing point of view, is that the writing eventually gets done.