One of the most repeated bits of advice I’ve heard floating around the writing world is to create a schedule for your writing and then stick to it. Having a schedule and a fixed time dedicated to writing mean exactly that, you have time to write. One of the biggest differences between an amateur writer and a professional writer is that the professional writer actively makes time to write. Whereas, the amateur writer waits for inspiration to strike, or to be in the right mood, or for the stars to align. The point is, in order to find success you must first find time to dedicate to the craft.
Some of the benefits I’ve heard to having a regular schedule include the following:
- Increased productivity.
- You brain gets trained to be ready to write at that time.
- Greater focus.
- More positive writing experience.
- Greater chances of actually finishing writing a book.
Two years ago I kept a religious writing schedule, I would get up early before the rest of the family and I would write until someone woke up. Some days I was lucky to get over an hour, some days the kids would wake up only minutes after I started typing. It wasn’t a perfect plan but with it I was able to finish the first draft of my novel.
I had to change this schedule when I was pregnant with baby #3. I couldn’t function during the day when I lost that hour of sleep in the morning. It was more important to me to be there for my family than to get up early. I did find some time here and there, but not nearly as much or as often. Between having a baby, moving to a different state, all while caring for the other two children; I actually stopped writing altogether for over a year.
This is where being flexible can help. Currently, the only chance I have of a long uninterrupted writing session is when the older kiddos are at school and baby is napping. When this happens I might get one, sometimes two hours all to myself. So far, baby has had other plans. The truth is, if I waited for the perfect time to come around, I’d never write. There’s always something or someone else that needs my attention.
Being flexible means finding tiny pockets of time to squeeze in bits of writing. No, it’s not perfect. Yes, it’s harder to focus. Yes, it’s hard to get into the zone. Yes, it’s far better than nothing.
Being flexible also means not beating yourself up when your usual writing time is taken by something or someone else. It means being okay with using what time you do get, even when it’s not ideal.
Being flexible means that you are no longer a slave to that paralyzing idea of perfection. If your idea of a perfect time to write is when there is no one in the house, all the housework is done, you’ve had a chance to read to get in the mood first, and there are at least two hours to spend; you’re setting yourself up for failure and frustration.
If your life is such that If you can set up a schedule to write – go for it! Protect that time and use it well. However, if you’re like me and have duties and children at home, you’re going to need to find an approach that works for you.