If you want to write a book, you need to, you know, write. But a lot of writers get stuck in the rut of wanting to do it “right” with the perfect writing schedule.
The perfect writing schedule may not exist
One reason I love working with authors is that they’re a diverse group. No two authors are alike, but they’re all connected by the desire to tell stories.
Unsurprisingly, the amount of time authors have to devote to writing isn’t the same. How they write differs too. A good writing schedule is whatever works best for your circumstances. Which means you’ve got some work to do.
Map out your obligations and free time
No one has the ability to spend all their time writing. You’ve gotta get time in for sleeping, eating, and human interaction. (Probably a good amount of reading too, since reading can hone your writing skills.) And if you have a day job on top of your writing endeavors, free time can be scarce.
If you have a full schedule, don’t expect to slap down 3,000 words every day. Don’t compare what you can do to someone else. Do what’s right for you. It’s going to be much harder to sit yourself down in your chair and write if you associate doubt and guilt with writing.
Manage your expectations and focus on the end result. Your goal is to write the best book possible. For some, that may be weeks. For others, it could be months. Maybe even years. How long it takes you to write your book doesn’t matter as long as you write it. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t finish as fast as someone else.
Understand your writing process
Are you a plotter or a pantser? A plotter might require more time to plan and review their work than a panster, but a panster needs more time during the editing stage to pull everything together. A book needs the same amount of work, but where you do the heavy lifting won’t be the same.
If you need more writing time, factor this into your writing schedule. If you spend more time editing, keep that in mind when you set your publishing timeline. If you don’t know whether you’re a pantser or plotter, experiment. When you find what works for you, setting a schedule will be easier.
It’s about what works for YOU
Author Kristen Cashore writes her stories by hand. Ann Aguirre can lay down 5,000 words in four hours, but she’s trained herself for it. Some people track their progress by words, but you might want to track by hours or minutes.
Don’t expect to start off with a good schedule. Try something out, evaluate its effectiveness, then adjust it. Repeat until you find what works for you. Adjusting your schedule isn’t a sign you’ve failed; it’s a sign you’re recognizing when something isn’t working and taking steps to correct it.