Crafting a Writing Schedule for the Real World

I’ve known people who have had the luxury of taking off a year to write a book. People who have friends with a cottage in the Cotswold’s or an air-conditioned tepee in the Sahara where prolific, uninterrupted writing can be done.

As far as I can tell, the other 99% of us need to find a writing schedule that works in the real world.

When do you like to write? I know many people who love to get up early in the morning and do their writing while the rest of the world sleeps. I like to do my writing at night. Not the day-job writing that I get paid for—I’m talking about my own pet projects…the ones that would sit on the back shelf and get dusty if I didn’t have a routine for getting them done. Night works for me both creatively and practically, based on my energy and my daily responsibilities.

What writing schedule will work best for you? Here are some of the important questions to consider when exploring the possibilities.

  1. When can you fit in your writing time? Early morning? On your lunch break? Right after dinner? Just before bed? (Don’t worry about when you feel freshest. This is a real-world writing schedule and showing up is half the battle.)
  2. How much time can you dedicate each day? An hour? Half an hour? Twenty minutes? Aim for a half hour or more each day, but if that’s unrealistic, go with less. It’s better to show up consistently than to set up unrealistic expectations and fail. Either you’ll fall in love with writing and find a way to make more time, or you can focus on shorter-length writing projects.
  3. Where will you do your writing? Seek out a space where you work best. Although it’s important to identify a spot where you won’t be interrupted, that’s not necessarily going to be a quiet home office or a public library. Some people need a buzz of activity around them to focus, in which case the local coffee shop or the park on nice weather days makes for a nice writing location. Experiment and see what works best for you.

There is no silver bullet for getting from 0 to 1,000 words or from 0 to 100,000. The truth is: Writing takes time and hard work. But it doesn’t require an unmanageable amount of effort. If you are willing to carve out time every day to write—just as you would to weed the garden or go to the gym—you will be committed to the journey and on your way to the finish line.


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