Some writer’s snatch a few moments of time wherever they find it. Other’s adhere to strict schedules. Walter Mosley tells us to write every day. Peter Brett wrote his first novel on his smartphone during his daily travels on the F train. Do you follow a set writing schedule? Write every day? Have a favorite writing spot? Do you put butt to chair until you’ve finished a specific word count? Tell us about your writing schedule.
Writers Write by Bonnie Schroeder
I try (emphasis on “try”) to write every day, first thing in the morning — okay, I feed the dogs and make coffee first and then retreat to my desk with one dog underfoot and one cat in my lap. On my desk, I have a kitchen timer that I set for one hour. Some days I actually write for the full hour before the phone rings or the other cat barfs or my stomach starts growling. Some days I have to stop the timer until the aforementioned distractions are dealt with; then I try to finish the hour later on. I don’t always make my goal, but occasionally I actually exceed it.
For me the important thing is to try for it, every day — weekends included. It keeps the circuits open and the muse engaged. When I worked at a job 50 miles away with a two-plus hour daily commute, there were times when I could only manage 15 minutes a day, so an hour is a huge luxury for me now. But even with those quarter-hour writing sessions, I finished the draft of a novel. It took a few years, but that daily contact with the pages kept them in my mind, kept me plugged into the current. And that, to me, is the secret: write something every day, even if it’s just a paragraph, or even a sentence. Then I can legitimately say, “I’m a writer.”
Lucky by Jacqueline Vick
I’m extremely lucky. I was able to quit my day job to pursue writing full time. (Well, writing AND homemaking full time). That means that every morining when I rise, my day is my own and my schedule is whatever I want. Sounds great, doesn’t it? There are a few downsides.
When I’m working on a novel manuscript, there is no boss handing me deadlines. There is no client with a specific need to fill. I have to set all of those goals myself…and keep them. Repercussions can be a wonderful motivator; without them, it’s more difficult to stay on course.
My deadlines consist of “finish the first draft by May 1st”. I’m always happy to find a short story contest, because that gives me a specific deadline and specific criteria to meet.
Yesterday, I was talking to my brother who is a personal coach, and he said that the difficulty most people run into is keeping promises to themselves. They don’t value their own time and their own goals as much as they value other people’s time and goals. I’m starting to get around this by making more specific goals and deadlines, and then pretending that I work for a fabulous author named Jacqueline Vick. She has high expectations and I don’t want to disappoint her. I imagine her asking me to have the rewrites on chapter one on her desk by Friday. It’s a bit kooky, but it works.
I write every day including weekends. My butt is in the chair for about 8 hours on weekdays, a few hours here and there on Saturday and Sunday. I write in the only place available to me–the dining room table. It’s a pain to keep cleaning off the table each night, but the thought of my husband reaching around a stack of papers for the pepper mill helps keep me organized.
Writing Away by Jackie Houchin
For an organized, everything-in-its-place, kind of person, my writing schedule is very haphazard and irregular. I mostly write when a deadline looms, so I’m thankful I have those. I write reviews for magazines and articles for a newspaper and newsletters. If I don’t get my copy in, it doesn’t get printed. Simple as that, and no amount of boo-hoo’ing will fix it. The next issue already looms on the horizon.
If I were to write a book, I fear I would find myself writing franticly for 23-hours every day during the last weeks before the agent/editor/publisher’s scheduled deadline. I admire my fellow Wonder Women who persistently, faithfully write for months and even years to bring their creations into the world. Their ultimate satisfaction will far outshine my instant bursts of pride.
So which style is best? “Whatever works for you.” Yeah, you’ve heard that before, but it’s true. Whether it’s dedicating specific minutes, hours, and days to craft a novel, or franticly writing and rewriting and “ripping the paper out of a typewriter” before rushing it to an editor…it doesn’t matter. If our words, opinions, ideas, and stories are read (sooner or later), well, that’s what counts.
That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it. Now, let’s see… when’s my next deadline?
PS: Where do I write? Either at my dinosaur desktop PC in my office until the “backside” can’t stand sitting any more, or more recently, standing at the breakfast bar in the corner of my kitchen with a 6-foot cat tree behind me (usually occupied by three cats lounging and looking over my shoulder, and trying to foil my thought processes with their diabolical purring and mind games) while I pound away on my laptop.