Schedule for Long-Term Success
Both experienced and aspiring authors have a rough time creating a sound novel writing schedule for long-term success. Most attempt to work around their daily schedule which may change at will. What ultimately happens is a novelist’s plans for writing will break down.
For a path to success in any field, especially one that dictates scalable income like writing (where you’re not getting paid for working), you’ll need to juggle your budding writing career with a full-time job. If you have a set work schedule as I now do, this isn’t as tough.
But if you’re in the crowd who has an unpredictable work schedule, you’re also in luck because I spent seven years of my life with a work schedule that led me every which way but straight. From a produce clerk to a personal trainer, my schedule changed by the day, sometimes by the hour.
So today, as I venture off into a set schedule of full-time work, I’m going to show you some tips you can utilize to make the most out of your writing schedule.
Trust me, with seven years’ experience battling scheduling curveballs, sliders, and knuckleballs, it’s been one wild ride when writing Northern Knights and my freebie novellas.
One: Stick to a Single Sacred Schedule
Step one, find a time each day during your workdays to write. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a paragraph, a page, or a few pages.
I like the early morning or late evening technique but some of us who work alternating shifts might not have this available. Scheduling your writing time before or after work might be best.
I once had a strange schedule where I often worked split shifts. Here, I was able to write in between my work times, whatever time I had. There were times I’d be finished with my first shift at noon and wouldn’t have any more work until five. Other times, I was finished early and came back to work later on, at sixish.
Some of us who work split shifts may only have a couple hours in between, as I have now with my new set schedule. If your place of work has lockers you can stow your laptop in it and write on your break.
If you’re uncomfortable with bringing your laptop to work, you can always head home and write for an hour if you live nearby.
If no option is available, you can always bring a notebook with you and brainstorm ideas while on a break. What’s cool here is you can do this during even your fifteen-minute breaks.
Two: Use Off-Days
On days you’re off, make writing a priority. You may have obligations but first, treat writing like it’s a second job. Knowing this, you need to act as if writing consists of regular work hours.
If you’re used to say, working in the morning, write in the morning for an hour or so. If you’re an evening worker, do this in the evening.
Plan your off days ahead of schedule and stick to the schedule you’ve given yourself. So, if you’re scheduling your off day to write in the morning, write in the morning and don’t deviate. If someone else tries to throw you a curveball, tell them you have personal commitments.
Whatever you do, DO NOT deviate from your schedule. Unless there’s an emergency, you need to prioritize your writing.
Three: Bring Fun Work to Work
Yep, writing is work but it should be fun work. Even the self-editing process should be fun. So, if you have a nice break in the middle of the day and have a safe space to put your laptop, go ahead and have at it.
And again, if you don’t like taking your laptop to work, just bring a notebook and brainstorm, take notes, map out scenes, outline, still find ways to contribute.
In my old job, I had a schedule where I saw clients but might have an hour or so in between. So, I was able to usually avoid the curveballs, sneak into my office, close the door, and write.
Oh, and if you can get away with this at work, why not give it a shot? Nick Stephenson did this often during his early writing career.
Four: Sacrifice Entertainment
Wait, sacrifice the TV?
Yep! TV, movies, Netflix, everything except your favorite sports team playing. But avoid watching the other games.
And isn’t it ironic to sacrifice entertainment for entertainment you’re creating?
This isn’t much of a trade-off, but people have a tough time doing so. The first thing to do is not just turn off the TV but unplug it.
Obviously we can’t get rid of internet and both Twitter and Facebook can be tempting. As can Pinterest these days.
So, if you just can’t get rid of surfing the internet, why not schedule a five-minute internet break for every twenty-five minutes of writing.
Being an internet junkie myself, I understand the pain. But, by taking five minutes every twenty-five minutes, this will help keep the mind fresh. You can take a break from all the writing and editing cramming your mind for some peace of mind, which does wonders for the mind.
Write it Down
Yes, write your schedule each week. Either have a nice, big, paper calendar as shown in the featured image at the top of this article or you can go all tech-savvy and use your phone. Also, don’t just schedule it on your calendar, schedule reminders on your phone anyway.
You’re going to find long-term success here if you schedule your time accordingly and keep it uniformed. Yes, it’s tougher for those of us who work jobs with crazy work schedules and even jobs that are demanding and keep us at work for hours on end.
So, write out your schedule ahead of time, stick to it, incorporate what I’ve outlined above and soon you’ll go from stagnation to improvement. And this is the first step in the road to novel writing success.