A writing schedule will help you focus more on your work so you can create higher quality work in a shorter amount of time. You'll also stress less about meeting deadlines and having to really crunch to get an assignment done at the last minute. A schedule will help you feel more confident about your craft, and train your creativity to show up when you need it.
Sounds great, right? But how, exactly, do you create a writing schedule that works?
1. Create a Space
If you're working from home, it can be tempting to sink into the couch with your laptop and punch out some words when you have a few minutes. The trouble with this is that it can be hard to get into a groove, and it's really easy to get distracted. It can also make your off hours a little less relaxing as your work space and home space aren't separated.
Instead, designate a place where you will do your writing and invest a few bucks into making it a space that you love. Even if it's just a corner of one room, having somewhere special to go when it's time to write will make it easier to create and stick to a writing schedule.
2. Set Some Boundaries
Whether you're working in an office or from home, setting boundaries is essential to a productive writing schedule. To others, you may not look that busy, but interruptions can seriously derail your goals. Let people know that your writing time is sacred time and that you shouldn't be interrupted. Help reinforce the point by taping a note to the door (or the back of your chair) letting people know that it's Writing Time.
Be sure to do the same for yourself, too. Writing time is not for checking email, catching up on Facebook, or throwing in a load of laundry if you're at home. Turn off your phone and close those extra browser tabs and respect your craft enough to dedicate yourself to it.
3. Just Do It: Set Aside the Time
Waiting for inspiration to hit you or waiting until you feel like writing only invites other things to get in the way and prevent you from being productive. There is no perfect time of day for writing; you have to figure out what works best for you. Some people feel refreshed and clear first thing in the morning while others find that the creative juices start flowing as the clock approaches midnight.
The important thing is that you figure out what time of day works for you and actually set aside the time. Then, you have to show up for it every day - just like any other job. The good news is that, like any other habit, the more you show up for your writing time, the easier it will get.
4. Make it Your Own
Most successful routines are built around a few little habits or rituals that personalize the pattern. For example, runners like to put on all their special gear, set up their playlists, adjust their earbuds, and do certain stretches before heading out. Most will do all of these things in the same order as a way to prepare mentally for the task ahead.
Start establishing your own little habits and rituals that help you transition from being part of a busy day to focusing on writing. Maybe you could make yourself a hot cup of tea, set it on your desk, set some mood music, give Facebook a final check, and then dig in. Or you could take the dog for a walk to clear your head, fill a tall glass with ice water, and meditate for five minutes before beginning.
The important part is not what the little habits are, but the fact that you repeat them before beginning each writing session. This will help you establish the habit and make it something you look forward to every day.
Make it Work for You
The key to creating a productive writing schedule is simply to be committed to creating one. It might take a few adjustments until you find the magic formula, but if you stick to it, it won't be long until you feel like something is missing whenever you miss or skip your writing time.