I’ve been doing a bit of reading lately about how other writers work and it’s amazing how some can just sit down anytime and write. And while that’s okay for some people, I just can’t work that way. I need to block my writing time and use it to my best advantage and this is how I do it.
To begin with, I need to know when I’ll be writing. I time everything I do. I know how long it will take to do certain jobs around the house like cooking, cleaning, lawn mowing, pool cleaning, etc. So I give myself a set amount of time to get these things done.
I must be a lover of deadlines because without a set amount of time to do a job, I wander from doing one thing to another without finishing a task completely.
So at the end of every day, I make a list of what I have to do the next day, whether it’s writing related or not, and then I do everything at its allotted time.
I’m also greatly aware of my most creative time of day which is always early. So I start every day by writing for at least 2 hours. It doesn’t matter what else I have to do. I make sure I’m at my computer first.
I’ve been a writer for many years now and I know that however my day starts, it carries on in the same vein. So if I start the day being distracted by something, it will end up as a whole day of distractions and I’ll get very little done.
For instance a few weeks ago, the morning started with an important phone call which came in about an hour after I started writing. I talked to the caller for a while and then rang my husband. We discussed matters and he told me to ring someone else. I rang them, spoke for a while then rang back the first caller and then my husband again.
With the issue resolved, I tried to get back to writing after that, but my mind was distracted. So I went into the kitchen and washed the breakfast dishes, put some washing in the machine and took the dog for a walk.
When I got back I hung out the washing and went into the kitchen to prepare dinner early, because I’d had a great idea of what to make while I was out walking.
Then I stopped for coffee and the postman came. I went out to get the mail and my next door neighbour came out to get her mail too. She started to talk to me and asked about a favour she wanted me to do for her the following week. We discussed it and then I went back inside and read the mail and washed the dirty dishes from when I’d prepared dinner early.
Then I realised I was hungry. I looked at the clock and it was 2.30pm.
Where the hell did my day go?
My plan had been to write for a few hours and then get on with other website work I had to do and then do chores around the house that needed doing like cleaning out the pool, mowing the lawn and sweeping the patio.
Now I had no time for writing because I wanted to have lunch and I still had to get the other jobs done while I still had daylight (it’s winter now so it gets dark by 5pm).
I’d been busy all day yet had only managed to get an hour’s writing done. Sheesh!
I knew I’d have to pick up my game the next day because I earn all my income from my writing so I need to get plenty done every day.
Usually, apart from the first few hours of the day, I also sit down and do other more technical work later in the day, such as uploading articles to the website, sending out newsletters, sending invoices, making new webpages, setting up auto-responder series, etc.
I prefer to do more techy stuff in the afternoons because my creativity begins to wane by then and I can write much more in a fresh window of inspiration in the mornings than I can in an uncreative mood in the afternoons.
So this is why I have to schedule everything. I know my hours of peak writing performance, my hours when I’m better at manual (filing, etc) and tech tasks, and when I’m better at performing physical jobs around the house.
And I go even further with my scheduling and I schedule my writing work into different categories such as outlining and writing. This is because I outline by hand with fountain pen and paper and I do the actual writing straight to the computer.
So when I’m writing, like now, I have my papers beside my computer so that the writing process is easy because all I have to do is follow the outline I’ve prepared, step by step.
And this is how I get plenty of work done in a day.
My writing is my livelihood. It’s how I make my money so I have to prioritize it and make sure I get it done before anything else.
Naturally, not all my days are the same. Sometimes I block a whole day out for writing if I have a large project that I’m working on, like a book or an ebook.
Other days I’ll block the whole morning out just for planning my strategies if I have a lot of work on and I want to block out several days or weeks at a time to make sure I fit everything in.
How about you?
Do you need more structure in how you work so that you can get more writing done?
That’s why I created The 12 Month Writing Challenge to help you get more writing done and earn a full time income from your writing by this time next year.
Are you up for the challenge?
Get your screenplay on the track to success with the Fundamentals of Screenwriting online course at Screenwriters University.
This four-week class is the perfect introduction to the fantastic world of writing a script, from the fundamentals of the story down to the revision process. In this course, you will gain the tools to structure your scenes, your acts, and your plots.
At each step, you will receive comprehensive feedback on assignments targeted to develop the skills needs to thrive as a screenwriting.