The Un-Schedule for Writers

Welcome back to Motivational Monday.  Hope your writing is going well.

You know, I’ve always been a stubborn kinda gal.  (They used to tell me I came out of the womb, fighting.)  And because of my stubbornness, I tend to get crazy with To-Do Lists–as in, I can write them, but not stick to them and get things done.  How about you?

I’ve tried hundreds of suggestions, read at least ten books on the subject, and yet nothing has worked for me.  Until now.

I call it my Un-Schedule, and here’s how it works.  Down one side of the page I put all the things that go into my writing–novel, short story, nonfiction, editing, new ideas, blogging, writing in my journal, typing, networking, studying and misc.  That’s quite a lot of things, huh?  But as a writer, you know you have to wear at least some of those hats, so make your own list down one side of a page.

And here’s the place to think about how much time each of these things will take. (That was the hard part for me, because I never used to pay attention to time.)  I allot 1 1/2 hours for writing a short story, 1-1 1/2 hours for novel writing, 1/2 hour for journaling, 1 hour for editing, 1/2 hour for typing, 1/2 hour for blogging, etc.  That’s not 5-5 1/2 hours a day, though, since I don’t do every task every day–or even every week.

Across the top I write the days of the week–Sun. through Sat.  Then I get to work thinking about what needs to be done and when.  I know, for example, that I need a blog for these Motivational Mondays, so writing said blog goes under Friday, so I have time to edit and post it by its due date.

If I’m working on a novel, I give that at least five days during the week.  A short story may take one day of writing and one day of editing.  I journal every morning, so that’s a given.  Networking and New Ideas are fill-ins, but I make sure I include them every week.  Typing and Editing aren’t every week things, but I do those after I finish a novel, so there are some weeks when there’s only editing and typing and no novel writing.  Get the picture?

Now fill in your own Un-Schedule.  Why do I call it that?  Well, I used to be able to schedule what times I did certain tasks, but since my husband is semi-retired, I don’t have whole days to do my writing tasks anymore.  What I don’t get done in the mornings, before he wakes up, is catch-as-catch-can throughout the day.  This is an Un-Schedule, because there are no specific hours on the chart–only how long each task should take.

Oddly enough, this is quite freeing.  If I don’t get my tasks for the day done, I know I’ll have to work on them after dinner.  I like to relax after dinner, so I do my best to get the work done before-hand.

Try this with your own writing tasks.  If you don’t feel you can make the chart, you might get a teacher’s planning calendar and use it, although they only have five days a week on them.  But look at one to see how it’s set up, and it’ll give you the idea of how to do yours.

This is a weird concept, I know, but if traditional “write every day calendars” haven’t worked for you, give this a try.  It might be just the motivation you need to get your butt in the chair and write/edit/etc.  (Leave a comment if you’re unclear about any of this.  Okay?  I’ll try to answer your questions.)

Happy Reading and Writing and Un-Scheduling to you all,


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