Let’s be real: finding time to write can be really hard. With day jobs, families, social obligations, community involvement, and Netflix, it’s hard to fit in the time to sit down and write. I can’t even stress the importance of writing every single day, but full disclosure: I don’t write every single day. I write almost every single day. And that’s because I have a schedule that allows me to write even when the rest of my life gets crazy.
Today we’re going to get you a writing schedule so you can make those small steps every day to write your way to your dream. All you need is a bit of gumption, your planner or calendar, and an open mind.
Break Down Your Schedule
Grab a piece of paper and write down your general daily schedule. Mine looks like this:
Mon-Thurs: Wake up at 6:30 and work out
Get ready for work and arrive at 8:30
Work until 4pm
Get home at 4:20
Pick my husband up at 5pm
Make dinner, clean the kitchen, perhaps watch a tv show, make lunches for the next day, get ready for bed
Bed by 9:30pm or 10pm
Fri-Sun: Free days…Church and grocery shopping on Sundays
Find Free Pockets of Time
For me, I have a chunk of free time every day Monday through Thursday, from 4:20 to about 4:55 when I go pick up my husband from work. That gives me over half an hour to get settled at my desk and crank out something, anything! Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are a bit more flexible.
Give Yourself a Daily Goal
Whether it’s writing for half an hour each day or writing 300 words a day, just make it something manageable. And it doesn’t have to be the same every day. For me, on Mondays through Thursdays, I just try to write for that half hour between getting home from work and picking up my husband. On Fridays through Sundays, I give myself a word count instead. Our schedule is always changing so I challenge myself to write 300 words a day for the weekend. This way I know my goal, but I can fit it in whenever it is convenient for whatever we have going on.
It takes over a month to set a habit, but they can be broken in a day. Be diligent about sitting down to write during your scheduled time, or writing your goal amount every day. It will be hard at first, but as you continue on, you’ll build the habit and eventually it will be harder to break it than to build it!
Make the Most of Your Time
Your writing time isn’t your excuse to check Facebook or read writer blogs (although, I confess, I have read many blogs and called it my “writing” exercise for the day…don’t do it!). Your writing time is for you to write. So when you sit down at your computer, turn off the wifi, or if your computer is too much of a distraction, go old-school and write with pen and paper. You’ll feel more accomplished if you can see the progress you made rather than feeling bummed that you sacrificed your writing time for reading other people’s work.
Create Your Space
It’ll do you no good if you sit down to write and get overwhelmed by your messy desk or your chattering kids or your husband mowing the lawn. Create a space that is conducive to inspiration, not distraction. It doesn’t have to be a desk, it could be the dining room table or a sewing table or a coffee table. Just keep it neat and clean and in a quiet area. My husband and I have a home office and my desk is right by the window. I love getting the late afternoon sunshine coming through the window. I often listen to music to drown out my cat chirping at us or my husband’s game noises. I like to have inspirational quotes on the wall in front of my desk to urge me on and I keep some of my favorite things on my desk. It’s a happy place to be and I enjoy sitting down to write every day.
Utilize Spare Bits of Time
There will be some days where writing just doesn’t happen. Your writing time will get taken over by a sick child, a family vacation, a spontaneous meeting, or another required obligation you can’t get out of. That is totally ok. Life happens! Don’t beat yourself up about it and don’t think you’re a failure. Instead, find a little bit of time where you can scribble something down. Just before bed, pull out a notebook and reflect on your day as if you were writing a movie review, or details your nightly routine, or describe in hyper-detail the outfit your daughter wore to school. Write while you’re waiting for a meeting to start, or waiting for a friend to get coffee, or while you’re waiting for dinner to cook. There are always little chunks of three, five, ten minutes here and there. Take advantage of them, and write.
See? Practically painless. I’d love to hear what your writing schedule is in the comments and if you have any tricks for sticking to a schedule!