First things first.
Despite the title of this blog post, I’m not even entirely sure I have a writing schedule. But seeing as I’ve been writing freelance pieces for the last year and getting paid for them, it occurs to me that, well, I must be doing something right somewhat consistently, even if it’s not at the same time every day.
My Paper Crow posts are not meant to instruct writers on what they “should” or “shouldn’t” do. While perhaps there are patterns of habits that seem to help large numbers of writers (Ex. Writing every day, writing at the same time each day, listening to soft music, etc.) no one tip or trick is going to work for every single person.
And even if a trick helps someone today, it’s not guaranteed to help them tomorrow.
Instead, I’m more interested in writing a post about my daily “schedule” (or lack thereof) because I’ve always been curious about the day-to-day life of other writers. Before making the switch to full-time freelancing, I’d always wondered, how do they get so many unrelated assignments done? Where do they write? Don’t they get tired of sitting in a chair all day?
Paper Crow Blog’s purpose is to share my experiences of writing with others, so I figured, why not give a glimpse into my own life? (Enter if you dare!)
Normally, I wake up around 9:00 AM-9:30 AM. (And yes, I do feel a slight sense of ingrained shame at this statement, but it’s out there now for everyone to see. After years of working jobs that called for me to wake up at 6:00 or 7:00 every morning – sometimes earlier – I’m adjusting quite well to waking up in the late morning.)
I feed the cats, let Queso out, and make some coffee. My energy already expended, I then proceed to stare off into space for 30 minutes on the couch while letting the caffeine take effect.
I could pretend to call this time “meditation,” “process planning,” “reflection,” or something equally catchy, but honestly, I just stare into space. Sometimes, I scroll through my phone to see if the world finally imploded overnight, and upon realizing Earth’s other inhabitants are still trudging along, I decide I might as well, too.
At this point, I may put a load of clothes in the washer or run the dishwasher before heading to my desk because I can’t work if I don’t have a semi-clean house.
Once at my desk, I review my tasks for the day and write them down in my planner. Usually, these notes look something like:
- Reply to Amy’s email
- Ask Max about blog topic for this week
- Work on Ellen’s assignment (3 pages)
- Work on cozy mystery for 30 minutes
- Outline posts for Luke
- Read 2 chapters of book to review
(I like to highlight in several colors and add fun planner stickers because, why not?)
The task I start on first depends on my mood and priority. One trick that does help me from time to time is to simply choose one small task to complete. If I’m hating the world and want to be anywhere else except the desk, I choose the task that sounds the most interesting or the least amount of work.
Once I complete that small chunk, I’m usually in a good headspace to continue on with the rest of the assignments. I remember, “Oh yeah, I’m not a complete failure. I can do this.”
Interestingly, I find that I usually work in almost exactly hour-long increments. I’ll look up at the clock and see that 57 minutes have passed since I took a break, or maybe it’s been 53 minutes or 55 minutes. I suppose one hour is the maximum amount of time my brain can focus uninterrupted.
I take a break between these periods to eat, stretch, water the plants, vacuum, make a phone call, etc. It’s not unusual for me to run errands during the day (like grocery shopping or taking one of our animals to the vet) since my schedule is so much more flexible than Alex’s.
My work almost always stretches into the evening hours since I don’t work straight through the day. To give my brain time to rest before sleeping, I usually stop working around 7:00 or 8:00 PM and relax for the rest of the evening.
I know this schedule wouldn’t work for everyone. Alex doesn’t know how I function. Even some of my writer friends are horrified that I would work in the evening, but I find that it suits my personality well. It helps my energy levels remain more even-keel throughout the day, as I can prevent myself from burning out.
What is your writing schedule like? Would you say you have one? Share your writing experiences in the comment section!