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?”
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.
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.