Words on a Page Writings about writing

How to create a daily writing scendule

A paper day planner

(Note: This post was originally published, in a slightly different form, at Notes From a Floating Life and appears here via a Createive Commons license.)

No matter what you’re writing, or what you want to write, you need to approach it with a plan. That plan in only the first step. You won’t make any headway unless you have the time to tackle whatever it is you want to tackle.

Everyone seems to talk about making time to write the things they want to write, but how do you do that? The easiest, and I believe most effective, way to make time is to carve that time out of your day.

That’s where a daily schedule comes in.

Here are a few suggestions that can help you create a daily schedule.

Look at your day

Start by taking a close look at your typical day. Look at what you do during the day and when you do it. You want to see where you have blocks of time that you can take advantage of.

How big should those blocks of time be? I recommend you find 30 to 60 minute stretches during the day for writing. At the very least, 15 minute blocks. That could be some dead time in the morning. It could be part of your lunch break. It could be time in the evening after the kids have been put to bed.

Also, don’t be afraid to cut down on or cut out some activities. Instead of bingeing on Netflix or TV, use some of all of that time to write.

Pick one project

And only one.

Many of us have a number of things that we want to write — blog posts, short stories, articles, books.. Trying to write them all is a good way to write none of them.

Taking on more than one writing project will make you lose focus. You’ll try to flit between multiple projects, never completing them. Your energies — both physical and mental — will be spread too thinly.

Your progress will be slow. You’ll get frustrated. You’ll quit. That’s not what you want to happen.

Determine the minimum viable amount of time

By that, I mean the least amount of time you can put into a project and either finish it or make good headway. And also the minimum amount of time which ensures you don’t get bored or feel rushed.

That minimum viable amount of time will vary depending on what you want to write. With a blog post, for example, that could be an hour. If you’re writing the chapter of a book, that amount of time might two hours or more.

Block off time in your schedule

You know what you want to write. You know how much time (roughly) you need to devote to writing. Now, you need to block off that time. Every day.

To do that, use a calendar. It can be a paper one, or a digital one. Create an entry at the time or times you want to set aside to write. If you’re using a digital calendar, make sure you:

  • Set a reminder
  • Can synchronize the calendar across all your devices

Let your family and friends know that you’re unavailable during those blocks time. That’s your writing time. It’s inviolable.

Be flexible

As I mentioned in the previous paragraphs, those blocks of time are your time. Those blocks of time are sacrosanct. For the most part, they will be.

The best laid plans and all that … Things might get in the way once in a while. You might have to work late. You might have to deal with a sick child or a sudden household emergency.

Whatever happens, you need to be flexible about the time you’ve blocked off to write. If, for example, you planned to write a short roundup article from 8:00 pm to 8:45 pm, but had to help your kids with their homework until 8:30 pm, tackle your writing from 8:30 pm to 9:15 pm.

If you miss a day because you’re tired or sick or if something comes up, don’t double up the next day to try to catch up. That doesn’t work. Continue from where you left off and get back on track the next day.

A schedule is essential to ensure you have the time to tackle your writing. Even if you can only set aside 30 minutes a day, you’ll be amazed at the amount of writing you’ll get done by the end of the week.

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