A Daily Writing Schedule: Should We Bother?
Contributor
Written by
Jolie du Pre
December 2011
Contributor
Written by
Jolie du Pre
December 2011

Brooklyn Museum - A Woman Writing - Suzuki Harunobu

I'm a Type A personality who loves to structure her full-time writing life around a daily writing schedule. The Type A personality is described as "ambitious, aggressive, business-like, controlling, highly competitive, impatient, preoccupied with his or her status, time-conscious, and tightly-wound."

The positive? I'm a high achiever. The negative? I'm anal retentive, depending on who you talk to.

Fact is, as I get older, I'm less of the negative traits of a Type A than I used to be. I still thrive on routine and organization, but I also know that there are more important things in life than having a spotless house 24/7.

My ideal daily writing schedule?

6 a.m. to 7 a.m. - Emails/Facebook/Other forums

7 a.m. to 10 a.m. - Novel writing

10 a.m. to 11 a.m. - Shower and Breakfast

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Article writing

2 p.m. to 3 p.m. - Take a walk

3 p.m. to 5 p.m. - Make dinner for my family and myself

5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. - Blog and remaining article writing

8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. - Read

9:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. - Exercise at the health club

11:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. - Shower/Bed

It's a full day, but when I stick to it, it works beautifully.

However, things happen. Take last night for example.  I got to bed around 2:00 a.m. I had to make descriptions to include in a travel photo book, a book that my family and I give as gifts every year. I take Sundays off, but I had other things to do during that day, so I didn't get to write the descriptions until late at night. That meant I got up two hours late this morning, which threw my entire daily writing schedule, for Monday, off.

If I stay up too late the night before, or if it takes me longer to write my articles during my designated time, or if I spend too much time on Facebook, I can get into trouble with my schedule. For a plan to work, you have to stick to it.

Put the most important tasks first

One way I stick to my daily writing schedule is to put the crucial first. Novel writing, Monday through Friday, is important to me. If I skip that, it means I'm not working on my upcoming books. My article writing is crucial to me. If I skip that, it means I'm not reaching my daily dollar amount, I set for myself, when it comes to writing articles.

Take breaks

We are told as writers to get up out of our chairs and take a break every hour, because sitting all day is not good for us. Realistically, however, most of us are not going to do that. What works for me is to take a three hour break in the middle of the day. It means I'll walk for an hour, and then I'll busy myself in the kitchen cooking - something I love to do. Once dinner and dishes are finished, I can return to my work.

Stick to your bedtime so that you can wake up on time the next morning

For me, a reasonable bedtime is 12:00 a.m.. That gives me six hours of sleep. Is it enough? It's not 8 hours, but it's enough for me. Anything less is usually not enough for me to be productive the next day.

Be realistic with your goals

I know that if I overbook my schedule, I'll be in trouble. It took me a long time to learn this. Albert Einstein once said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Sometimes people on Facebook, or some other forum, will brag about being able to write 10,000 words a day on their novels, plus 20 articles after that. (I’m kidding, but not really.)

 

That's great, but if that's not you, don't think it has to be you. Don't compare your life, your schedule or your goals to other people. Do what works for you, and be at peace with it.

 

Do you keep a daily writing schedule?  Why or why not?

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Comments
  • Jolie du Pre

    Hi Jessica,

    Getting up at 5 a.m. before the kids is so important for you and your novel.  And even though it may be hard to stop writing when those two hours are up, at least you've gotten further along with your novel!

  • Jolie du Pre

    Hi Katie,

    It's important that I allow for flexibility.  Otherwise, I'll go insane.  This week - the holiday week - is where "flexibility" really hits home. LOL

  • Jessica Vealitzek

    Putting the most important things first is so important. I'm at home with two small children and am writing my first novel. I used to just write when I could, usually during naps. But I found that made me anxious throughout the day. So now I wake up at 5am and get in at least a couple hours. I'm much more relaxed the rest of the day and I get more writing done.

  • Katie Clark

    Wow, you are disciplined!  I have a tentative schedule, but I am VERY flexible in it.  As long as I get done in a day what I need to get done, I am happy--no matter if it happens first thing or right before bed : )  Of course, we each have to do what works for us...

  • Jolie du Pre

    Hi Allyson,

    You wrote, "I think the most important thing for me to remember is that I need to be flexible. My life is undergoing change right now. As long as I have *some*designated creative writing time, and I make sure to stick to it, I'll be okay."

    ~~

    I think if you can keep that in mind, you'll be fine now, and in 2012.  My daughter is home from college, and currently, she's sick with a bad cold.  I'm willing to adjust my schedule to be not only mommy but also nurse.  Being flexible doesn't mean not sticking to my writing plan, but it does mean allowing for things to happen *when* they happen.