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Tag: scheduling

Tips-y Tuesday: Keeping the Writing Train on Track

Last week on Tips-y Tuesday we talked about how wasted time is never wasted. This week I’d like to talk about one of the most difficult parts of writing: staying on track and writing consistently.

We’ve talked before about scheduling dates with writing in order to finish your project within the timeframe you want. For example, if you want to finish writing a book in four months, you can do it easily as long as you come up with a reasonable schedule.

But even if you come up with the greatest writing schedule in the world… it means nothing if you don’t stick to it.

Of course nobody is going to stick to their schedule 100%. Emergencies and unplanned events come up that force us to to retreat out of our writing caves and into the burning light of the real world (unfortunately).

“Ugh, god! What is that horrible light seeping
into my wonderfully cold and damp prison cell?”

sunlight

But the vast majority of the time, we are able to write. Whether it’s at home after work, or on the weekends, or when we suddenly find ourselves with nothing to do, we are perfectly capable of starting/continuing that novel or short story, and yet, very often we don’t.

Why is that? I believe there are two reason: (1) we honestly just forget sometimes, and (2) writing is a lot harder to bring ourselves to do than watching TV/YouTube/Netflix/killing time doing nothing.

The way I get around both of these problems at once is by using a schedule book. At the beginning of each week, I write down everything I’m planning on doing each day for the upcoming week. Then, as I do things, I cross them off.

A week in my schedule book.
I really enjoy crossing things out.

schedule

I know this may seem old-fashioned in the era of smartphones, but honestly, there is just something so visceral about writing down your schedule and then crossing it out that you can’t get on a phone. When you write it down, it already feels like you’re one step of the way there, which you don’t really feel on the phone. And the mental satisfaction of crossing it out with a pen as opposed to deleting/striking-out is incomparable.

It probably sounds crazy to anyone who hasn’t tried it, but if you’re having trouble sticking to a writing schedule, then writing down every day in a schedule book to “write one page” might actually be helpful. So long as you don’t allow yourself to go to bed before that one page is complete, no matter how messy it may end up, you will stick to your schedule. And it’s a lot harder to ignore something you’ve written yourself in a book than just data on a screen.

For those who are worried that they might lose or forget to check their schedule book, try just leaving it in your writing area, or another place you sit at every day (kitchen table, living room chair, etc), that way you can’t miss it. And your schedule book doesn’t even have to be a “book,” it can be a printout you hang on the wall above your bed or desk or TV or whatever you want.

I know I personally would have never finished a novel if it weren’t for my paper-and-pen schedule book. It’s like having a nagging friend always by your side, asking you “did you write your one page yet?” And since there’s no better feeling in the world than shutting that friend up by crossing out your daily writing amount, it makes it even easier to reach your goal.

(Featured image via GAHAG, edited by me)
(Insert image via GAHAG)

Tips-y Tuesday: How to Schedule a Hot Date (With Writing!)

Last week on Tips-y Tuesday we looked at how it can take a while to find “The One” when you’re trying to publish, but you’re not alone in that struggle, and getting there eventually is worth it.

This week I’d like to talk about one of the few things I’m actually decent at when it comes to writing: consistency.

I may not be so great when it comes to painting vivid scenes and bringing characters to life and even just putting words together nicely on a page. But as far as setting aside time to write every day and actually sticking to it, I’m practically Einstein.

Well, most of the time anyway.

einstein

The way I go about doing it is by using a schedule book. Every day I write down what I have to do, and I’m not allowed to go to bed until I cross off everything. Of course, “write one page” is written in there too, so if I want to lay down on that sweet soft pillow, my fingers need to get typing.

It follows the same kind of pattern as exercise. The first few times it hurts… a lot. But after the first week, then month, of writing every day, it gets easier and easier until it becomes a habit. Then, something magical happens: you suddenly want to write every day. If you don’t write, you feel bad, just as if you’d missed a favorite TV show, and you rush to finish it before bed.

Of course that sounds great, but it’s a lot of work to get to that point. One thing that helps make it easier is by having an end goal in mind.

What I like to do whenever I start a new novel is plan out how long it will take me. If a 70,000 to 80,000 word novel written in MS Word is around 100 pages, then the initial schedule can look something like this:

A pace of one page per day, six days per week
(one day to rest) results in 100 pages finished in four months!

schedule

(Yes I know the last day has 4 pages instead of 1, but hey, most months aren’t 28 days long either, so you don’t have to do that final four page sprint on the last day – you’ll make them up in the 30 and 31 day long months.)

Being able to visualize an end helps make it easier to get started. Personally I find it easier to begin a race when I know where the finish line is rather than running around aimlessly, and the same goes for writing.

So just think – if you started writing one page per day starting today, then you would have that novel you’ve always dreamed of finishing actually done by February. It wouldn’t be ready to ship off to agents by then, but you’d be in a great position to start editing and harassing friends and family for feedback.

And you know what else is in February? Valentine’s Day. What better way to find a significant other (or seduce your current one) than by offering them your recently completed, hot-off-the-word-processor manuscript? Ooh, makes me all tingly just thinking about it!

(Featured image via GAHAG, edited by me)
(Insert image via Wikipedia, edited by me)