Let’s talk about schedules for a second. I posted about writing schedules a few weeks ago as I attempted to put myself on a stricter plan—well it didn’t quite work out. The first week went pretty well, but this week I got sick, and everything went to sh**. I immediately lost faith in my plan and fell back into old habits. Well, not this time! I delved into some research and found some great tips on keeping a writing schedule, and I also jumped into creating a printable Excel document that lays out my time into 15-minute increments for each day of the week. And damn it, I am going to stick to this as long as humanly possible until it becomes a habit. Maybe you have a schedule that works for you, and maybe you’re like me, where once you get put on one you want to rebel just because—don’t you hate that. Either way I am going to figure this out and hopefully give you some tips and pointers along the way. Below are a couple of articles on writing schedules and how to go about setting one up for you, and why you NEED to stick to it. Also there is at the end a link to how to create your own Excel document to plan out your daily writing for an entire year, if necessary. I will update you on my ability to stick to it this time on a weekly basis and continue to share the tips I learn along the way. As always, here is a video on writing and keeping faithful to your planned times to do so. Hope you enjoy and put to use what you learn😉
How to Create and Stick to a Writing Schedule
By: Kathy Edens
Don’t like math? Skip this article, then, because figuring out a writing schedule to stay productive involves a few numbers.
The key to a productive writing life is scheduling. And the best way to schedule your writing and stick to it is to determine your yearly goals first.
How prolific do you want to be?
Some people take years to write a novel; others take months. Some writers like Stephen King are incredibly prolific while others may crank out “one and done.” You must decide for yourself how prolific you want to be. This is an entirely subjective element of creating your own writing schedule.
Let’s say you want to write and publish a book a year. That means you have 12 months during which you need to draft, rewrite/edit, publish, and market your book. Now to figure out how much time to allocate to each phase.
How much can you write every day?
You may think 4 months to write a 75,000 word book isn’t achievable. Let’s run some numbers to see.
Most writers can pound out 1,000 words in an hour. If you take your writing time seriously, you should be able to spend an hour a day on your writing during the week. That means you’ll have written 5,000 words a week.
Thus, it will take you around 15 weeks to write your novel. So right around 4 months, give or take a few for the vagaries of life.
How much time will you spend on editing?
You should set your manuscript aside for two weeks or even a month before you work on revisions. Just like with your writing schedule, try to assign hours per day you can work on editing. If you can only stick to an hour a day for your writing career, you can edit your manuscript in about 4 months, too.
That leaves 4 months left for you to publish and market your book. This is very do-able, especially if you self-publish and have an author platform and a marketing system in place already. If not, you may need a little extra time to set this up, but that’s best left for another post.
Setting up your production schedule
Now let’s say you have a list of projects you’d like to tackle. Choose the ones most important to you, the ones that will enhance your writing career, and those that will be the most profitable. And then get a handy calendar ready.
You must mark your most important commitments first, like those to your family, day job, etc. Also mark firm dates like when you’ve scheduled vacation, when you need to travel for work, and others. Now fill in the calendar with your production schedule.
What’s the best time of day for you to write? We have an interesting article, “Are You a Night Owl or an Early Bird?” that can help you figure out your best time to write.
Let’s say, just for example’s sake, that you’re most creative first thing in the morning. That means that you’re better able to tackle left-brained activities like research, editing, and marketing in the afternoons.
Depending on how prolific you want to be, you can have multiple projects in different stages of production going at the same time.
An example of a production schedule
Let’s say you’ve finished a manuscript, and it’s ready for editing. You spend an hour in the afternoons editing your completed work… but don’t forget you still have an hour of writing each morning. Time to turn your attention to your next project.
If you can compartmentalize your work, you might work on different projects in separate phases. Here’s what your daily schedule could look like:
- Mornings: Creative writing on the third book in your series
- Mid-morning: Revising and editing the second book in your series
- Afternoon: Publish and market your first book
This is an aggressive production schedule. At best, it’s prolific. At worst, it’s a nightmare of juggling too many things at once. You can only do what works for you.
But if you want to treat your writing like a career, you need a production schedule that lets you work on different phases each day. This will help you produce more work in a shorter time and keep your readers expecting your next novel coming soon.
Your writing schedule helps you produce. If you can turn out a manuscript in 4 months, you can publish 3 books a year. And you’ll only get faster the more you work on schedule. But more importantly, you’ll get better with each book you produce.
This is how a production schedule lets you see—in black and white—how sticking to it can help you reach your goals and dreams of publishing.
How To Create A Writing Schedule That Works For You
By Caitlin Muir
Is it just me, or does time seem to be at a premium these days?
Even though we have exactly the same amount of time as Einstein, Aristotle, and Marie Curie, we just don’t seem to be as productive.
In a perverse twist of fate, even though we have more technology serving us and taking away some of our more tedious tasks, we still don’t have time to get everything on our to-do list accomplished. We work more and seem to be less productive.
It’s time to get organized. It’s time to create a writing schedule.
Make an Editorial Calendar
Pull out one of those giant calendars from Office Depot (or use a Google Calendar to sync with your smartphone). Start putting your deadlines in red on the calendar and then place the calendar somewhere next to your writing zone. Consider these deadlines sacred; the world will stop if you don’t make them.
If you don’t have a deadline, get one. Writers wither without deadlines. –> Click to tweet
Once all the deadlines are on the calendar page, see if there are any recurring themes within the articles. If there are, consider making that your theme for the month. This will not work in every scenario, but if a theme appears, take advantage of it. Think of it as the foundation of the platform you are developing that month.
Creating an editorial calendar may take a few hours, but it will save you time in the end.
- If you don’t have a deadline, get one. Writers wither without deadlines. – Click to tweet.
- When is your brain most alive? Write then. – Click to tweet.
- How to create a writing schedule that works…for you! – Click to tweet.
- When you are writing similar articles, write them around the same time on your writing schedule. – Click to tweet.
- Be intentional about making time because there is no perfect time to write. – Click to tweet.
- Everyone has a magic formula that they swear by. That’s great if it works for them. – Click to tweet.
When is your brain the most alive? Is it early in the morning? Late at night? Carve out time to devote to your craft.
Your writing schedule needs to be planned out in advanced. Be intentional about making time because there is no perfect time to write. If you wait for the magic moment, you will die without having finished a manuscript. You will always have to fight for your writing time. A professional writer is the one who knows the worth of their writing and lets it take priority over distractions.
If you need more encouragement as a writer, start reading Jeff Goins. His blog posts will energize you (and your writing!).
If you find that you are writing similar articles, write them around the same time on your writing schedule.
Instead of having to fully develop multiple ideas, you can dig deeply into one and let it take multiple directions. This will allow your thoughts to be well-formed, leading to better articles and a shorter writing time. We all want that.
If you are writing a novel based in a certain historical period (and you are already doing the research), why not take that knowledge and blitz write some posts and articles? Once you have them written, you can schedule them to be published in the future.
The bottom line is to find a writing schedule that works for you.
Everyone has a magic formula that they swear by. That’s great if it works for them. For Jim Woods, that means getting up at 5 AM. For other writers, it means staying up until the wee hours of the morning.
How to create a writing schedule in Microsoft Excel in 7 easy steps