How can we schedule our writing?
It is something I admit that I have difficulty with. Can I call myself a writer, when I don’t write daily? This question has come in my mind, and I know that it has in others’ minds, too. Perhaps right now you’re clicking away from my blog, because I dare to call myself a writer yet I don’t write daily.
I have to admit that I struggle with scheduling. Yet, I know I am not the only writer who does. There are too many books – on writing, on self-help – and even more blog posts, it seems, about how to schedule writing into your life. The reason daily is recommended, is because if you have a fixed time that you write daiily, then you are more likely to get actual writing done, and not get distracted by something else.
(What is that something else called? Life! Babies, cars, bills, mortgage, spouse, your kid’s bike, your dirty carpet, the dishes, you name it! Practically everything in existence can become a reason not to write, even reading that amazing novel or poring through all the writing blogs I just found, whee!)
I am not decrying anyone who writes daily. I applaud them. I aspire to write daily. But, I think the pressure to write daily can become a trouble in and of itself. Because then we do more negative self-talk, which as writers we know does not help anything. That self-editor? Turn off when I’m writing! Wait around for when I’m revising!
So. Here is a really great insight from Ollin, my new favorite blogger (who is actually not “new”; I’m just getting caught up on the blogging world more lately!) on writing. He is the writer for Courage 2 Create. He says, ask yourself, “How can I make the time to write?”
A good, positive question, we note. Moving in the right direction!
Then, in a nut shell (for Ollin is, I have determined, a writer blogging god who can defy the blogging rule of writing short posts), he says:
…the four ESSENTIAL elements of a writing schedule that works for you are the following:
Adaptability. Sneak writing in when you have empty pockets of time where you aren’t doing anything. When the kids are asleep. When you can’t sleep. When you’re waiting in line, snatch that tiny composition notebook out of your pocket and scribble something down. When you’re at the doctor’s office, or dentists, waiting (because they always make you wait)…you get the idea.
Flexibility. If life gets in the way sometimes…let it. But avoid making excuses, such as, “I’m too busy”, “I have to spend so much time with my spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend/cat”, etc. Keep asking that question “How can I make time to write?”
Organic is best. If you can’t write a 4:30 in the morning before your work at 8, then…don’t! Do what works for you.
Divisibility. This, Ollin says, is most important. Break down your goals into goals, break those into goals, break those into goals…until it’s more manageable, feasible, and less stressful, and brings you genuine joy. Writing should be a joy, not a chore. It’s a passion, a career, an expression, maybe your job, not a stinky task that you don’t want to face, like the laundry.
Now, doesn’t that make it easier to breathe, somehow? ….ahhhh. Ahhhhhhhh. Yes! I feel like it does make it easier to breathe! Things seem more possible now, more manageable. Now we know what questions to ask, what obstacles we will face, and how to tackle them, at least a little bit. It will be hard at first. It will be a process. But we can do it. Remember! You are not alone. There are other writers out there. Such as myself, Ollin, and all the many blogging writers out there. We believe in you!
Another nifty, helpful, soothing thought that Ollin has to share is that it’s OK if your mind has to get ‘in the zone’, and the ideas are more worthwhile when you do so. He says:
…whenever you set aside time to write, make sure to allot a cushion for yourself, some time set aside to “get in-the-zone.” Remind yourself that sitting at a blank screen and doing nothing is a crucial part of the whole process. Yes, it’s boring, but trust me, the magic is happening just underneath, you just can’t see it yet. You can compare your mind’s need to get in-the-zone to a car that needs to warm up before its engine can run. Or, to follow our previous metaphor, you can picture your mind as an oven. Yes, it will take MORE time for your ideas to cook in an oven, and it might take more preparation and patience on your part, but once that timer goes off, boy–your ideas will come out with that rich, home-cooked taste. Yum, yum, yum. Delicious.
Now isn’t that enjoyable? The idea that we can allow ourselves a little leeway to settle in, and not expect ourselves to come up with brilliant ideas the second we sit down. (Whew! Thank God. I was having trouble with this one. So much pressure!). He also says to make writing a sacred space and time for yourself. Let it have it’s own snuggly area in your home, and in your mind, and on your calendar. Then it burst forth in full, beautiful bloom.
Last but not least, Ollin has this great tidbit:
DETACH YOURSELF FROM THE OUTCOME.
Yup! That’s right. When you can say “It is what it is” (more on that another post!), you release a lot of the pressure you are putting on yourself, and writing can more easily flow from your fingertips. Huzzah! It may be hard, because you were so attached to finishing within a certain time, or mastering a certain style, or writing for a certain amount daily, but the presure did not help, so now, maybe it’s good to acknowledge that detaching can help. Detach, and sit down to write…and see what happens. Your fingers might just fly across your keyboard or notebook paper.
As I head forth into the new day tomorrow, I’m going to try to remember Ollin’s great tips, and I hope that you can, too. Please share with me any ideas or advice you have, as well as your journey as you try these tricks. Do you have a schedule for writing already? Share that, too! I love to hear from different writers’ experiences.