As an author (or an aspiring author), you’ve probably felt the pressure to be “more disciplined” in your writing life at some point. Maybe someone told you you should get up every morning and write for two hours before work. Maybe you heard that you should carry a small notebook at all times, and scribble inspiration daily. Or maybe you’ve simply heard other writers wax poetic about their incredibly regular and productive writing schedules, and thought “I should be more like that.”
If you are one of those writers who already has an incredibly disciplined and productive writing schedule, we would warmly invite you to continue doing whatever it is that you’re doing, because this post isn’t going to help you very much. But if you’re one of those writers who feels like you should have a writing schedule that resembles a well-oiled machine, then stick around, because we’re going to let you in on a little secret.
Are you ready?
Here it is:
The perfect writing schedule doesn’t exist.
But what about all of those incredibly disciplined and productive writers who we just cordially invited to exit this post–don’t they have the perfect writing schedules?
Simply put: no. What they have is a writing schedule that works for them (or so they say). And there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for that.
Writing is highly personal and individual. Your writing schedule should be too.
In a Reddit post (before he published his blockbuster novel The Fault in Our Stars), mega-bestselling author John Green said,
“I think a lot of writers lie about their schedules and discipline. (I know I do.) We do this so that people will think that we are, like, extremely disciplined and hard-working and whatever. I try to write every day (except for when I’m traveling, which is quite a lot of the time) for five hours in the morning, but you may notice that it is morning right now, and I am not technically working on my new story.”
Let’s put this bold: If you try to shove your writing time into a schedule that doesn’t work for you, you will damage your writing time–or worse, you will stop writing.
Here are some questions that will help you design a writing schedule that actually fits you:
- Realistically, how much time can you devote to writing each week, after your other obligations, social activities, and (yes this is important) rest time are adequately fulfilled? Maybe you’ll find you can write for five hours per day, like John Green is pretending to. Maybe you’ll find you only have an hour per week, or a couple hours per month. That’s ok. Choose a time slot that fits your lifestyle, because the more realistic you are with the time you have available, the more accessible (and productive!) your writing time will become.
- Do you work best when you complete tasks at the same time every day, or when you diversify and adapt your schedule daily? Some people enjoy–and even require–a routine. But others work best when they adapt their daily activities around the demands of each individual day. Variation is a part of life, and that’s ok! The important thing is to be honest about what approach works for you.
- Are there little things you can do to reward yourself for a productive writing time–and also forgive yourself for an unproductive writing time? Writing is not always its own reward–it’s hard work! Find little ways to reward yourself for every period of time that you take to write. Conversely, don’t beat yourself up if a writing sesh (or two, or three) was not as productive as you hoped.
The important thing is that you are actively seeking to create workable writing opportunities for yourself–and with time, practice, and a hefty dose of realism and self-acceptance, you will get there!
Chelsea is a copywriter, editor, publicist, and content creator at Books Forward, an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, we help authors find success and connect with readers. Interested in what’s possible for your book sales and building readership? Check out our services, tell us your goals, and get a customized publicity campaign tailored just for you.