Why you Should Establish a Writing Schedule

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This guest post originally appeared on Violette L. Meir’s blog. Also, shout out to Brande McCleese who just successfully revamped her writing schedule. Ya’ll stop by her blog and show her some love! Happy Monday, you guys!

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Cat Meme

Back in the day (way back. Before Facebook), I had a creative writing professor who asked the class: “How many of you have a writing schedule?” Very few of us raised our hands. A writing schedule? I mean, I watched The Young and the Restless and The Golden Girls regularly and spent a lot of time thinking about going to the gym. I knew I eventually wanted to write a novel, but actually writing? Who had time for that? But as time went on, I kept thinking about what he said and it dawned on me: how was I going to write the next New York Times best seller if I didn’t sit my behind down and write? So, I put my big girl panties on and made the decision: I was going to establish a writing schedule. But when? I had classes during the day and after 5 pm my brain turned to mush. That only left the mornings. And if I was going to make any real progress, I needed two whole hours. It was settled: my writing time would be from 5am until 7 am, when my house was completely quiet.

I was so proud of myself! I waited for my professor after our next class and told him about my new writing schedule. “I get up at 5 in the morning!” I gushed.

He looked at me and said, “Well, even if you’re writing crap at 5 am, at least you’re still writing.”

via GIPHY

His words went right over my head. All I knew at the time was that I was now a serious writer. A bonafied, eat it, live it, and breathe it writer. Not one of those people who walked around complaining of how they wanted to write a novel but couldn’t find the time. No, sir! I was dead serious about my craft. I would write the next Great American Novel and give litra-ture a whole new meaning. I told all of my friends and family and pretty much did everything to let the world know aside from hanging a shingle outside of my door that read, “Serious writer resides here. Inquire within.”

Fast-forward 10 years or so and here I am, still writing at 5 am. I’ve made it a priority. Even if it means going to bed early. Or waking up even when I’m tired (to combat this I usually preset my coffee pot so that if I have a hard time waking up, the smell of French Roast will lure me to the kitchen, and finally to the computer). But most of the time, I get up ready to confront whatever idea or manuscript I’m tackling at the time.

So what’s happened since I’ve established a writing schedule? Well, I’ve spent many a morning writing short stories that will never see the light of day, outlining novels that I’ll probably never write, wading through terrible ideas and even more terrible manuscripts, squinting at my computer screen (wondering how I could come up with an idea so hackneyed), frowning at my coffee cup (wishing I had just a tad more hazelnut creamer), and giving a good ole fashioned western style stare down to my computer screen before rolling up my sleeves to confront my WIP.

I’ve abandoned more novels than I’ve finished, thrown several novels out of the house, and divorced many well-meaning protagonists. But on the flip side of that, three not so bad novels, several well thought-out outlines, and many brainstorming sessions have come at 5 am. Had I not established a routine, I would probably still be twiddling my thumbs and saying, “You know, I want to write a novel. I just don’t have the time!”

So if you’re having trouble establishing a writing schedule (and finding that, every time you sit down to write, there are a host of distractions that come your way), consider this: what are your goals and how long will it take you to reach them? For instance, if you plan to write a full-length novel (80,000 words are so), decide on a deadline and stick to it. You want to give yourself 6 months? Then you’ll need to write just under 450 words a day. Doesn’t sound so bad when you break it down like that, huh? You could probably do that on your lunch break! And if you can’t devote 2 hours, try to commit to 30 minutes. You’ll be amazed at how fast your word count will add up!

Also, considering your work schedule and family obligations, when is the best time for you to write? Early mornings? Afternoon? Late at night? On your lunch break, perhaps? Pick a time and stick with it until it becomes second nature.

Can’t write every day? Commit to 3 days a week. And if you can’t do 3 days a week, be a weekend warrior. But if you’d like to write a novel, try to commit to something, even if it’s only one day a week.

What about others? Do you have a writing schedule? If not, how do you prioritize your writing? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Claim it! Visualizing Your Goals And the Power of What we Speak

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Happy Wednesday, Everybody!  It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means that it’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. The co-hosts for May are Stephen Tremp, Fundy Blue, MJ Fifield, Loni Townsend, Bish Denham, Susan Gourley, and Stephanie Faris. If you can, stop by their blogs and see what their up to these days:)

So. I’ve been working on The Novel That Is Taking Longer To Finish Than Any Novel In The History of Novels. There are a myriad of reasons why it’s taking me so long to finish this book. Among them:

  1. Two pregnancies in two years = 18 months of pregnancy brain.
  2. A cell phone swiping toddler (who is also a well known flip flop thief) who zeroes in on my laptop’s “off” button every time she gets the chance. And then she shouts “Yaaay!” and claps with joy before stealing another flip flop and taking off running.
  3. A huge bout of what-to-write-next-itis.
  4. “Great” ideas that end up just being huge distractions when I realize that I should have just been writing in the first place.
  5. Doubt. Unspeakable doubt about…well, everything. 

Number 5 is a biggie. Lately I’ve been rather down on myself for not having the time to pursue my writing career the way I’d like to. That includes writing more books, maintaining this blog and my social media profiles, and supporting authors that I meet online by reading and leaving a review for their books. And since I don’t have the time, doubt (fear’s wicked, wicked stepsister) seeps in and causes me to question whether or not I should be pursuing this writing thing at all since I can’t devote my all to it. To boot, I feel guilty about many other things that I should be doing (like getting my butt on Instagram or marketing myself locally), and because I can’t do every single thing I’d like to do, I start feeling like maybe I should just give up.

But having that kind of defeatist attitude just leads to failure! It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy and if I believe that I won’t be successful, then guess what? I won’t be! So even when I’m feeling like my to-do list is insurmountable and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to pursue all my dreams, I have to stop that train of negativity by reminding myself that I can do anything I set my mind to as long as I don’t quit. I also have to ask myself, “What’s the rush?” So what if I don’t get every single thing done today. Who cares? Doing a little each day is better than doing nothing at all. And then I start thinking of all the things I thought I couldn’t do and did anyway, like finishing my first two novels, and I realize that I can achieve all of my dreams. Just not in one day–or one year.

There’s so much power in our thoughts and the things that we speak that we have to be vigilant about what we think and what we say. Despite what your situation looks like, keep pushing.

Are there going to be days of doubt? Yes. Are there going to be setbacks? Yes. Are there going to be days where you feel like you’re doing all of this in vain and you should just give up? Absolutely! But nothing worth having comes easy. And things don’t just happen: they must be planned. Yes, you have to think positively but you also have to map out a plan and get to work. Also, don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself. Instead, surround yourself with people who have your solution, not your problem, and go out there and live your dreams.

Visualize your success. Speak it, write it, claim it. Wake up next day, repeat. Click To Tweet

Don’t believe me? Check out this inspirational letter that renowned science fiction author, Octavia Butler, wrote to herself. If you aren’t familiar with her work, she is one of the most lauded American writers and the first science fiction author to win a MacArthur genius grant. She also wrote one of my favorite books, Kindred, a novel about a modern black woman living in California who is transported back to slavery times.

 

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Now excuse me while I go and take my own advice, lol. What about others? Do you practice thinking/speaking positively and writing down your goals?

And for those of you who need an extra boost of motivation, check out one of my favorite songs, “Go Get It,” by gospel duo, Mary Mary. Go get it!