Before I begin this post, I want to say again: If you’ve found that a daily writing schedule or goal works for you, that’s great! Although this series is primarily for those who might not respond well to a daily writing goal, the important thing is that you find a system that works for you and inspires you to be the best writer you can be.
If you missed the part one of this series, read it here!
When it comes to making a writing schedule that is sustainable, I think it’s essential to determine the things about writing that fill you up and the things about writing that drain you.
For me personally, I love character development, dialogue, cute, romantic scenes, and making words sound like music, but trying to figure out a compelling plot, describing setting, and making endless decision after decision is tiring for me. However, I know that ALL of these things – the inspiring and the tiring – are essential to meeting my writing goal of finishing my novel.
When beginning to think about creating a writing schedule, consider the following:
What is your writing goal?
What do you love about writing?
What do you not love about writing but is necessary to reach your writing goal?
When making your schedule, be conscious about creating a balance between the aspects of writing that excite and inspire you, and the aspects that exhaust and tire you but will help you accomplish your goal.
I’ve even designed a worksheet to help you work through these questions and help you create a schedule that works for you! Click here or the image below to sign up for BrightMail and receive access to the WBT Library. If you’re already a subscriber, click here to go straight to there!
I’ve recently realized that writing is a bit like working out. Sometimes it leaves you feeling energized and pumped and like you can accomplish anything, and sometimes it leaves you exhausted and sore. Sometimes, you have to force yourself to just get out and do it, and sometimes it sounds better than the other work you have to do.
Just like with exercise, I think it’s important to have days for rest and recovery. Giving your muscles a break and letting yourself recharge for the next day of training is not a failure, it’s a foresight. And in writing, giving your mind a day to rest, to seek inspiration, to focus on the world around you is not a failure, it’s a foresight. I even call it research.
Similarly, I think it’s okay to have days where you exercise your writing brain in a different way with non-writing writing-related activities. If you’re training for a marathon, you might give yourself a day of yoga to really stretch your muscles. In the same way, if you’re working toward your writing goal, you might give yourself a day to focus on developing your story in a medium other than words. Maybe you make a novel playlist, or you create a character collage. I’ve also made a list of my favorite non-writing writing-related activities that’s available for BrightMail subscribers to download from the WBT Library. If that first worksheet wasn’t enough to convince you to sign up, click here or the image below to sign up for BrightMail and download the free printable!
By working rest days into your schedule, you allow yourself space and time to breathe without the guilt or pressure of failure. If you’re the kind of person that needs time to rest and recover, working that into your schedule will benefit you and your writing, giving you a better attitude when you sit down to write again.
That being said, if you find yourself taking too many rest days, I encourage you to think about why. Are you avoiding something? Is the subject of your writing emotionally draining? Are you feeling uninspired? Taking the time to evaluate why you’re feeling that way will help you move forward. Maybe even hold yourself accountable to “make up” those rest days – that way, you’re still being generous with yourself without letting your work suffer.
Actually Making the Schedule.
Consider the natural cycle of your days. Do you work a 9-5 with weekends off? Do you have class every other day or Monday, Wednesday, Friday?
Personally, I am very much a week-by-week person. I think part of this has to do with my obsession with planners, but looking at the week starting on Monday and ending with the weekend is a natural cycle for me.
For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate my Monday session to seriously considering issues of plot and conflict and three general writing sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday . This way, I can hopefully make progress by focusing intently on plot on Monday, and then give myself the rest of the week to see how it plays out. It’s almost like I’m getting it out of the way in one dedicated session so I can focus on the things that bring me joy for the rest of the week. I’ve also scheduled two non-writing writing-related activity days on Thursday and Saturday, and a day of rest and recovery on Sunday. By letting myself rest on Sunday, my hope is that I will be ready to tackle plot on Monday.
Although I have scheduled out the whole week, I will still be generous with myself. The schedule I have made is what I consider an ideal writing week – a week where I show up, I sit down at my computer ready to write, or I focus on something that will add another dimension to my story. But I will not consider days that do not go according to plan “failures”. I will consider them additional recovery days that will hopefully make me a better writer tomorrow.
Next week, I’ll be sharing a few ways to stay motivated to stick to your schedule and create a writing routine that gets you in the right mindset. I hope you’ll check back in next Wednesday to read the final post in this series!
Don’t miss the final post in the series! Sign up here for BrightMail and you’ll also receive access to the free printable. Win-win!