Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Developing a Writing Schedule

As writers, many of us struggle to find to time actually sit down and write. There are full-time jobs that gobble up at least 40 hours a week, and for those of us that are married, loving spouses that require more attention than an electronic tamagotchi pet. But we love you, we really do, and we didn't just compare you to an electronic toy that pleads for affection -- I promise!

So how do we make time for it all, and still manage to work on our writing projects? Because that's what it's like to be a writer for many of us, isn't it? We don't just work on one piece to completion, no that would be far too reasonable... Many of us dabble. We start projects, and switch up our creative endeavors to avoid boredom and resentment or to scratch a new creative itch that threatens to drive us insane if we don't acknowledge it. The muse comes as it will and does not take kindly to being asked to wait.

Of course, I'm no exception. I've been quite busy with my non-fiction writing lately, and I've added a fair decent number of articles to my online inventory. Some of my more notable articles dealing with writing are book reviews for writing advice books, The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman and On Writing - A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. Since I already have these books in my collection, it was rather easy to put the reviews together. It does make it easier when you get some use out of a book. I imagine that a responsibly written 'bad review' is a bit harder to write. It also made me realize just how many of these types of books I've got on the shelf, which is one part sad and one part opportunity to write more reviews, most of which will not be recommendations for purchase. I also put together some quick articles based on our experience with the Disney Land and Sea vacation we took back in May to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. I plan on expanding my articles on this topic as well, since it is an area of broad interest and I wish we'd had some of the information I've got locked in my head before we'd made our travel arrangements. That has to be useful to a fair amount of people planning their vacations, so why not? If there's an audience... might as well sing. Here are two of my 'songs' err -- articles -- Review: Our Disney Cruise and What You Can Expect on a Disney Cruise.

The short stories I've got in the works are both on an 'as-I-get-time' status, though I do feel quite compelled to finish them. For those of you who have been with me for a while, the titles I've still got 'in-play' are "The Viability of a Seed" and "Chlorophyllium 9".

There's so much that I feel I need to do and only so much that I can tackle at any one time. Life is demanding more attention from me as well. We're half-way through painting the basement, which must be done before the workers can come back and finish the rest. Of course, taking a queue from Jim's ( The Truth About Lies ) recent comment to my blog, I'm putting a little extra effort to personalize the paint job in my office to help create the perfect writing atmosphere. It's going well so far, and I'll be sure to add pictures soon, but the process is time consuming.

Working 10 hour shifts and getting off at 6:30 PM has also put a bit of a strain on a recent goal to write something non-work related every day. I get off work, spend a few minutes trying to get my mind right, then it's time for dinner and I try to spend a little time with the kids before they go to bed and then the night just seems to melt away before I realize what's happened. So last night I decided that writing every single day may not be the best approach right now. I'll only beat myself up if I miss a day and that doesn't help the writing process in the slightest.

What I need is a workable writing schedule, a set block of time where I do nothing but write. Any other writing I may be able to churn out at other times during the week is bonus. I've decided that Friday is a good day for me to carve out time for my writing, and that will work for me. What type of writing schedule works for you?

If I'd have been asked that question when I first began writing, I would have scoffed at you. How can you schedule time to write? How can you expect to tame the wayward muse? The concept would have been insulting. Yet now, mellowed by time and experience, I know that a schedule is the only thing that can guarantee that I will sit down and write, and to not write seems a crime against the very core of who I am.

That begs the question: Who are you? As a writer, as a person, as someone with dreams, what will it take for you to accomplish the tasks you feel drawn toward? These are questions you will need to answer when it comes to balancing your creativity and your responsibilities. The great test has been laid before you, what tools will you use to ensure you pass? A writing schedule may not be the razor-bladed sword of a mighty hero, but a sword must be wielded to be a legend and a hero must do something heroic to be a hero made. So too must a writer write. Will you schedule your time on the battlefield to hone your abilities for the battle to come, or will you allow life to schedule your practice for you?

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