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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Who Needs a Schedule?

I want to go out on a limb here and say...YOU! You need a schedule.We all do. If you have a schedule-phobia, then you might have stopped reading by now. If you're vigorously shaking your head no, then just bear with me for a few more hundred words and let me tell you why I think everyone needs to find a schedule that works for them.

You will write more.
If you have a schedule, you will write more. I haven't done an official study, but I have talked to enough writers and have been a writer long enough to know this is true 95 percent of the time. (Estimated statistics there--we are not math geniuses after all.) Usually, if you have given yourself a scheduled time to write, this also means that you've made writing a priority. And if you've made writing a priority, then you're writing more and on a consistent basis.

Without scheduled writing time, writing might be the thing on the list that occurs when you get around to it. We all know that many times those list items never get finished.

It doesn't have to be a typical schedule.
If you are NOT a schedule person, and you are still with me, then thanks for hearing me out. You see, scheduled writing does not have to mean that every day at 5am, you are going to wake up and write. There are all different types of plans that work for people--the point is really to have a planned writing time and stick to it. This is why several novelists have taken my "Write a Novel with a Writing Coach" class because the way the class is set up, it makes writers stick to a schedule. The schedule is: every Friday, they must turn in a chapter or 15 pages to me. So before Friday then, they have to plan writing time to get this assignment finished--some people do it the weekend before and revise during the week. Others write at night when their children go to bed. Some do it on their lunch hour.

Maybe you have a critique group that meets every three weeks. So your schedule is--I have to have two chapters to turn in every three weeks. Therefore, how much time do I need to write these chapters before that date? Maybe it's not the same time for you every day, but you know you'll need ten hours before that three week deadline, and you work your writing time in that way.

Having a schedule saves you time.
One thing I have started doing is before I get up from my computer to do anything (get a snack, go to the bathroom, put a load of laundry in), I open up the next thing I'm going to work on or I type a line for the next paragraph or chapter, etc. The point is: planning ahead of time what you are going to do saves you time. So, even if you have to make your writing schedule day by day because you have a totally hectic life, thinking about WHEN you can have planned writing time the very next day and WHAT you will work on helps you use your limited time wisely; and (I sound like a broken record) you will be more productive.

If you are a schedule person, tell us below how you use a schedule to work your writing into your life. If you are not, then let us know--does this post drive you crazy?

Margo L. Dill is a writing coach, editor, author and teacher, living in St. Louis, MO. You can find out more about her writing and coaching business here and her books here


  1. Margo--I am NOT a schedule person. I am a pantser. I fly more by the seat of my pants.

    The thing that keeps me writing on a semi-regular basis are deadlines. Unfortunately, I don't write and submit to many markets--only a couple. One has a monthly deadline. (Do I write and submit something to that one every month? No. Sometimes I see no "theme" that inspires me.) One only has a few titles going simultaneously, so when I've submitted all I can, I'm finished with that one. And then there's the manuscript... (Let's not talk about that one right now. It's really gone off the rails, schedule-wise.)

    My writing critique groups keep me going, that's for sure. When Monday or Tuesday rolls around, and I have nothing for our Wednesday meeting, I think, 'Oh, crud. I'd better get to writing something,' and force something out. Monday is better for it than Tuesday, because then I can polish up a bit the piece I forced out.

    However, your post got me thinking. Perhaps I would work better (more prolifically) if I set up a minimum number of hours every week. I'll have to think about that...

  2. I'm glad something in the post helped you. I don't write the same time every day. But I do kind of plan the day before what I am going to do the next day and prioritize these plans, too.

  3. Of late I've let myself get off schedule. The result is very little in the way of productivity. Schedules work!


  4. I totally agree about taking a class or working with a writing coach. I'm taking two classes right now and I always make sure I at least turn in one piece (hopefully two) by Friday. How that piece appears during the week is a mystery sometimes. Bits and pieces here and there or a big chunk of just writing it out. I think it's important to write something...even if it's not great, at least it's something. :)

  5. Schedules help me make time to write, although I'm not always good at following them once I set them up!

  6. I SO need to put myself on a schedule. Right now I work on all my freelance work first and by the end of the day my brain is mush. I wonder if I started out by giving myself one hour a day where I work on a manuscript if I'll make enough progress? Then I can slowly build in more time. I'm also considering taking the WOW! class on outlining your novel that's coming up because it can help me get my next book idea fleshed out and keep me producing! Thanks, Margo.


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