Here’s How I Work Writing Into My Schedule
The tips in this post don’t have anything to do with getting up earlier and 4:14 AM timestamps on Instagram.
I’m *very* tired of those posts.
…Because that’s not when I thrive at all.
I’m not a morning person, and my children know things will not go well for them unless I’ve had 2 cups of coffee.
Yet, I still find time to write, even with a family, a full-time job, and other responsibilities. I’ve managed to write a few novels, and do other projects — some more successful than others.
The Truth About Finding Time To Write
Instead, I had to find a method that worked for me, and those habits are listed below.
Truthfully, I struggle to do these habits myself — I’m not the image of a perfect writer — but when I do implement these writing practices, they are game-changers.
There’s a huge difference in my mentality and output.
To a few of you, these will seem ridiculously obvious, to which I can’t argue…I have a message for you at the end.
The TL;DR Tips
Okay, now on to the actual tips….
I’m going to list them out below, and then include a bit more explanation below, but if you want the TL;DR this is it:
- Find one night (or multiple nights) of the week where nothing is planned.
- Choose your topic or topics.
- Write for one hour.
1. Find one night (or multiple nights) of the week where nothing is planned.
Let’s leave COVID aside from one minute, and go back to 2019 or hopefully a time in the near distant future where your calendar will fill up again. You will be invited to things, things will be happening, and you will have responsibilities.
- Look at your calendar and pick a night of the week where nothing is scheduled.
- Write in your planner or calendar that you will write for one hour.
If you are the busy bee in your group of friends or in your family, and you have a full-time job, and you want to be a writer, you will need to say “no” sometimes.
Say it with me: NO.
You can’t do everything. I’m not saying skip all of your parties, movie nights, trivia nights, and drinking nights, but you will need to say “no” to one of them. I’m not even telling you which ones.
But you need to be more ruthless with your time.
This also means cutting out Netflix, Hulu, or whatever.
Josh — that’s when I spend time with my significant other!
Tell them you love them and that you will be on the couch with them in one hour.
In the modern world, a lot of couples spend time on separate devices watching separate shows and playing separate Animal Crossing games. If that’s how you spend your time, then you can definitely sacrifice some of it to write.
Notice I didn’t say do this every night. PLAN ON WHEN YOU WILL DO IT.
Then your significant other will know, you will know, and it’s on the calendar. Once you’ve already scheduled it, it will become easier to skip random Netflix surfing because you know what’s on the schedule.
If you really want to kickstart this plan, block out a few nights of the week. That sounds like a lot but take a look back on #3.
It’s for one hour. You can do that.
2. Choose your topic or topics. (15 Minutes)
Now that you’ve scheduled and blocked out your hour of writing, you must choose a topic. If you’ve been following along on my ideation plan, you can use this time to either develop an Idea List or to start prioritizing and working out your key points.
A lot of writers get tangled up in this step because they think they’re supposed to write on one topic…
…That’s not necessarily true.
If you’re working on several projects, you may need to bounce around a bit, if you’re working on an idea — then just start writing and see if that idea has legs.
That’s fine. You’re not a failure.
You’re making consistent progress, and that’s a good habit.
3. Write for one hour.
I’m saying an hour not only for writing, but also the writing process.
The writing process involves:
Planning, organizing, writing, revising, pausing, and editing.
Let yourself create an outline, brainstorm, edit, and try new strategies or paragraphs. That’s what this time is for. Sure, you may be able to create one article in that time or even take steps towards two. But I’m not being that prescriptive about it. If you’re a writer, start making your own decisions.
But, I’d also like to cap you at an hour. This is enough time to feel some momentum…
It makes you feel good about your progress and gives you a nice exit ramp.
And you told your significant other that you would do something with them, so you have a hard stop no matter what.
…But an hour is also not too long if things start to wane.
Some nights you will feel like you can keep going — and maybe you should! But your average will be an hour. Some nights will be better than others, and the hour mark is easily achievable if things become too hard.
To keep the Internet from being a crazy distraction, you may want a website blocker to help you — especially on those writing nights when you’re not doing research.
You have other things to do — or at least other things you enjoy. You made time for writing, and now you can stop. I’m a big believer in taking many swings and chipping away. An hour allows you to do that. And the more nights you plan out for your hour, the more progress you can make.
You Don’t Have To Be A Morning Person or A Night Owl…
I hate this crazy dichotomy. Instead, I’ve tried to develop writing habits that don’t make me stay up too late or get up too early. Granted, this is not always the case and I try to force writing in around my other commitments…and then I end up feeling groggy and ridiculous the next morning.
Obviously, you can do this plan during the morning if you want to. Even at 4:14 AM. All I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t have to be that way.
But if you want to schedule your writing for that time of day, then this plan will work equally as well.
This Is The Power of Planning
However, when I plan ahead, guess what happens?
My expectations are reset.
I don’t feel bad about not writing one night, because I didn’t plan on writing that night.
See how that magically works? I don’t guilt myself into something because I’m sticking to my schedule. And you don’t even have to get up early if you don’t want to.
I don’t feel bad about saying “yes” to some things and “no” to others, because I understand the trade-offs being made in order to write more and more effectively.
At the beginning of this post, I cautioned you that many of these tips will seem obvious.
If that’s you, I’ll hit you back with another question:
- How often do you operate like this?
- How often are you putting these into practice?
Even if there are one or two people out there that this will help, then that’s a success…
…And if that is you, then please reach out and say hello.