If I had a quarter for every time I heard someone say, “If I had more time, I would write,” I could retire. Of course, many writers would counter with, “There are twenty-four hours in each and every person’s day.” While it is true that some people’s schedules are busier than others, it is also true that schedules are in many ways under our control. It is simply a matter of setting down our goals and prioritizing. Here are some tips on how to develop (and keep to) a writing schedule.
Master writer Raymond Chandler used to set aside a number of hours each day in which he refused to allow himself to do anything else but write. He did not force the prose. Quite the contrary, if it didn’t come, he simply sat in the chair and stared at the typewriter. Of course, this may not work for everyone. In fact, Raymond Chandler himself certainly wasn’t very prolific. But his tactic is a way to create discipline. And chances are, you will get tired of staring at that keyboard and get yourself to write.
When you develop your writing schedule stick to it. And by that I mean do not allow yourself to be distracted in any way, shape or form. Keep your cell phone off. Have everything you need within arm’s reach, including all necessary research. In fact, all research should be completed prior to the day’s writing. This also eliminates the excuse to go online. Use your computer only as a word processor and stay off the internet when you should be writing.
Be flexible about when the work day will end. Set a minimum amount of time you will spend writing each day, but do not limit yourself. If the writing is going well, take advantage of it. If you suffer from insomnia, as many writers (myself included) do, take advantage of that time as well, you can write many pages in one night. Some of my best writing is done in the wee hours of the morning with a small desk lamp on and an infomercial on mute.
Meals can easily get in a writer’s way, so avoid going out to restaurants during midday and meeting people for lunch. Most people do not understand that writing is work, so try to make them understand. Tell them you need to stick to a schedule, just as if you were working for someone else and had to show up at an office every day.
Hope these tips on how to develop (and keep to) a writing schedule prove helpful.