Scheduling for Writers 101

I'm writing this post for me as much as for you.   Pay attention, me.

How do you schedule your writing?  (I'm talking passion projects here.  For those of us who do writing for a living, we write all day, sometimes leaving little time for the work we love.  But everyone has challenges fitting their writing into their day, from the new mom to the executive.)


For years, my fallback position has been to get up early and get to my writing first thing in the morning.    Writing novels and books is the most important thing to me, and when I focus on what's most important, magical things happen.  All my other to-dos fall into place.  And I feel good all day long.

I've established a pretty good schedule over the last couple of weeks.  (I have a new novel that is coming together and I look forward to getting up early and working on it.)  I've been rising early and going right to the page.

Most mornings.

The problem is, going to the page means going to the computer.  And going to the computer means that enticements beckon.

I'll just see if there's anything pressing I need to look at, I say to myself.

And you know what?  On the internet, everything is pressing.  And I get pulled in.  Yesterday morning an hour went by before I looked up and said, whoops.  I'd tweeted and pinned things on Pinterest and responded to emails.  My writing time was almost over.

And so I am doing what any self-respecting writer would do–confessing publicly with the hopes that this will remind me, in future mornings, to stick to my morning routine.

You may not have a morning routine that you dedicate to writing, but surely you have an allotted time at some point during the day.   Or someway that you fit it in.  Would you care to share in the comments?  Working together, we all raise each other up.

Create a successful, inspired writing life:  Look at your current writing schedule.  Is it working for you?  Why or why not?  Figure out how to make it work.  Or, if you don't have one, make one.  And figure out how to stick to it.

Don't forget, you've got until midnight tonight, Friday, March 23rd, to save $10 on my Cultivate Creative Ideas class.  You can find out more on this page.


Photo by sandralise.


10 Responses to Scheduling for Writers 101

  1. Leanne 03/23/2012 at 06:50 #

    Oh my, my, my, how I can relate! I found this article while checking everything that had streamed in from around the world over night. Needed to see if I was missing “anything pressing”! My early morning hours are dedicated to writing (I just wrote this comment–should count!), but I often find myself distracted by the wonders that fill the World Wide Web. Getting taken in by all the fun bits of info, interesting pictures, and inspiring words of wisdom is like getting distracted by shiny gold coins(ooh, shiny!).

    I try to reward myself. For example, when I get through about two hours of straight project time, without distraction, I take a “mocha break.” I go and get myself a luscious, creamy mocha with whip. :-) Little celebrations for any accomplishment is good incentive to stay on task!

  2. Charlotte Dixon 03/23/2012 at 06:54 #

    Hey Leanne! Thanks for commenting. I know, could the web be anymore distracting? Geesh. And here it is, technically my writing time and I’m responding to comments. I’m heading over to my novel, I promise!

    I love your reward system and I agree, “little celebrations” are the key. Have a great day!

  3. Callie Feyen 03/24/2012 at 14:32 #

    I can relate to this post! I get pulled in so easily by the computer, and I’m with you – EVERYTHING – is pressing. I started writing drafts and revisions in pen and am nowhere near a computer when I’m doing the “serious” writing. But it is hard for me to be disciplined about this.

    (Found your post through Patrick Ross on Twitter. Glad I stopped by!)

  4. Judy Stone-Goldman 03/24/2012 at 14:49 #

    Sometimes I write by hand just so I don’t have to go on the computer and be tempted. Honestly, I’ve been through this issue so many times and have heard the cure (absolutely NO email and NO internet anywhere near writing), but I’m not sure there’s a point of “permanent learning” on this one. I need to be constantly remembering and recalibrating!

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing

  5. Charlotte Dixon 03/25/2012 at 10:54 #

    Callie, Don’t beat yourself up about it because we all struggle with it–that’s life in this millenium! I think we creative types struggle with it a bit more because our time is so valuable to us (I could be writing!) What I find is that the more into the project I get, the easier it is for me to set other things aside and work on it. But there’s a period before that kicks in that you just have to force yourself.

    Thanks so much for dropping by from my good buddy Patrick’s site!

  6. Charlotte Dixon 03/25/2012 at 10:56 #

    Judy, I’ve done the same thing–written by hand in order to avoid the distractions of the computer. And then I got so much written in hand that I got behind in entering it on the computer. I’ve heard that closing all inboxes and browsers down the night before works well but for some reason I never do this. I agree–this is something that we just have to keep going back to and going back to. I love your phrase of “permanent learning.” Thanks so much for stopping here!

  7. Debbie Maxwell Allen 03/26/2012 at 07:09 #

    I can totally relate. I waste my most productive time when I first sit down to the computer. I have a couple ways to combat this:

    1-I don’t have wireless internet. I have to plug in. That way, if I just move to a different location in the house, I have no online distractions.

    2-I try to schedule blog posts in advance. It’s the days when I don’t that I end up stuck at the computer far longer than I’d planned.

    3-If I’m in a place where wireless is available (coffee shop, etc), I turn on a program called Freedom, which locks my internet capability for the time period I’ve chosen. I posted about it here:

    And now it’s time for me to get back to writing!


  8. Charlotte Dixon 03/26/2012 at 07:16 #

    Debbie, those are good, specific suggestions, thank you! I’m heading over to read your post about Freedom right now, I think I’ve heard of it. Thanks for commenting!

  9. Suzanne Lilly, the TeacherWriter 03/28/2012 at 05:41 #

    For years, getting up early worked for me. I’d get 1 fabulous hour in the morning. I just wouldn’t turn on the Internet until I was done writing. But then along came “marketing.” Now, 1-2 hours are spent on social media, blogs, etc. every morning. I’m not getting my writing done! I’m far too tired to write at night. So what’s a writer to do? I tried switching my social media game to the evening, but really, my husband and family should be my social media game at night. So I still have a quandary. How do I fit it all in? My question isn’t how to keep myself writing, my question is how to write and take care of author business, too. Any suggestions?

  10. Charlotte Dixon 03/28/2012 at 07:39 #

    Yeah, its hard, Suzanne. I do the same thing some mornings, which is get engrossed in social media rather than working on my novel. What I did this morning was glance at my email and social media so I knew what was there and curiosity didn’t kill me. When I saw there was nothing that couldn’t wait until later, I went to work on my novel. I try to get up early enough that I have time first to write for an hour and then to do social media. I also do social media throughout the day, but that might not be an option for you. I’ve recently started making myself get up a little earlier in order to have time for it all.

    Here’s a tip that might help: use a tool like HootSuite. ( There are several of them, but its the one I use. It enables you to track all your social media, and here’s the key part, schedule it ahead of time. So you could spend one morning getting things set for the week. Or half an hour every morning getting things set for the day, whatever works for you.

    It is a pretty crazy world for writers these days, and we’re required to do more and more! I hope these tips are helpful.

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