Making the Magic Happen: Committing to a Writing Schedule

Writing is magic.

We think up an idea, and put it on the page.  Whole worlds spring to life beneath our fingers.  And all we need to do this, at base, is a pen and paper.  Oh, sure, a typewriter or computer helps, but if worse came to worse you could do without one and still write.

What you do have to come up with is time to make the magic happen.  You have to sit at your desk, or your arm chair, or in the coffee shop, and put words on the page.  And that takes time.

And that is where many of us falter.  Me, too.  I struggle with finding time just like everyone else.  But lately I've realized that all my important non-writing activities stretch to fill the time I allot them.  So, if I give myself all day to read three manuscripts, that's how long it will probably take me.  And if I give myself all day to read said manuscripts, I won't get any writing done.

And therein lies the problem.

With the necessity of doing marketing around my book release, many days this winter I became a writer who didn't write.  Well, there were blog posts.  And there were guest posts and interviews and ariticles, all of which I love.

But in my heart of hearts, its not the same as working on fiction.  And if a fiction writer is how I identify myself, if that is what I truly want to be, then I need to find time to work on it consistently.

I used to get up and work on it first thing in the morning.  But that schedule no longer works for me–I simply have too many emails and other internet chores pulling on me to allow me to focus.  I'd sort of pretend I was writing and actually get about 20 minutes in.  Not conducive to making progress on a WIP.  I was working on it, but in fits and starts–a stolen moment here, a bit of time there.

Last week, in my travels around the web, I read an interview with an author said that she wrote every morning from 9 to noon.  (I wish I knew who this was or where I read it, but I can't remember.)  This struck me like a thunderbolt.  Bad cliche, sorry, but it did.  I realized that if I put myself on a schedule like that, I'd actually get my writing done. 

And so I did.  I'm now writing from 9 to noon every day.  I'm showered and at my desk by 9 AM.  No more stretching internet time until 8 AM, then working on the crossword puzzle for awhile and getting in the shower when I felt like it.  (Hey, its the benefit of working at home.)  Nope, I'm ready to write at 9 AM sharp.  And I'm getting a ton done.

What I wasn't so sure about was getting everything else done, but so far that hasn't been a problem at all.  I've always harped on said that when you make your passion your priority, everything else magically falls into place.  And it is true.  I'm simply much more focused.  Plus, the high that comes from fiction writing follows me all day, allowing me to power through dumb chores and errands with joy. 

I really can't describe how profound this change feels. 

I've got an exciting new ghostwriting job coming up, and a couple other things in the works, so we'll see how I stick to the schedule when those come in.  But in the meantime, don't call me in the morning, because I'll be writing.

Do you schedule writing time?  Are you able to stick to it?  What works for you?

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17 Responses to Making the Magic Happen: Committing to a Writing Schedule

  1. Zan Marie 04/04/2013 at 14:32 #

    Sounds lovely, Charlotte…but our house renovation has got into gear again since it’s warmer. So, I sit in the dining room with my computer and writing desk crammed into a corner and surrounded by all the boxes it took to empty the study. Yep, you know an excuse when you read one. On the other hand, the study is going to be gorgeous with its new paint job. I might have to rhapsodize about that in my next blog. LOL!

  2. Charlotte Dixon 04/04/2013 at 14:34 #

    Yes, I do know an excuse when I read one–AND I've gone through several home renovations so I totally understand!  When we had our kitchen redone I would hide in my office but the guys on the contractor's crew would find me and chat.  I tried to resist, but they had such great stories, I felt it part of my duty as a writer to listen to them!

  3. Zan Marie 04/04/2013 at 16:32 #

    LOL! That’s a truth. We can find something “writerly” about every possible excuse. ; )

  4. Jessica Baverstock 04/05/2013 at 00:11 #

    Starting tomorrow I’ll be housesitting and I’m really looking forward to setting up a new routine in a new house.

    There are so many people in our house who are always doing something interesting or saying something interesting that I just get distracted all the time.

    Hopefully with less people around I can get back to the 9 to 12 (or 9 to 11:45) schedule.

    Also, there’s no wifi, just a plug with a slow connection. That should keep my honest in my internet usage. Productivity here I come!

  5. Galen Pearl 04/05/2013 at 08:30 #

    When I read posts like this, I realize that perhaps I am not really a “writer.” Oh, I write, but I write when moved to do so. I suppose that’s why I only have one book out there–ha! I post a couple of times a week on my blog. I do some guest posts. And I’ve published several articles in Chicken Soup anthologies. But I’m not what you would call prolific. I think I have taken this “retired” lifestyle to heart!

    Besides writing, I enjoy making presentations and do that once or twice a month. so perhaps my writing is coupled with face to face events and both are important to me.

    Hmmm, you’ve really got me thinking here!

    Besides that, since we are in the same vicinity, if you would ever like to have tea/coffee, I’d love to get together. Email anytime

  6. Charlotte Dixon 04/05/2013 at 09:00 #

    Galen, The definition of a writer is someone who writes–and you do that in droves! Doesn’t matter if you are prolific or not (and many would say that you are). I think we each need to define what amount of writing we want to do. For me, I simply wasn’t making as much progress on my fiction as I wanted and thus looked for a way to make that happen. I’m going to pop you an email as soon as I get this comment finished!

  7. Charlotte Dixon 04/05/2013 at 12:53 #

    Ooh, this sounds like the perfect situation to get writing done, Jessica! And yeah, I have to admit, often my schedule falls apart at 11:45–hunger pangs! I hope this works out great for you!

  8. J.D. 04/05/2013 at 16:24 #

    Hi Charlotte. You have good advice as always. I waste so much time; I need you to keep prodding me. On another note, I read “Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior.” What a great little book. Truthfully, it’s not a work I would routinely pick up. I read a lot of thriller/mystery with the occasional dark literary thrown in, but I’m certainly glad I bought it. I read it just after finishing a Nelson DeMille and just before starting a John Grisham. Even so, I couldn’t put the story down. And you did a marvelous job of writing it. Good stuff and welcome back to your blog.

  9. Charlotte Dixon 04/05/2013 at 19:20 #

    You know I'll keep prodding you as long as I'm writing, J.D.  And thank you so much for your comments on Emma Jean!  I figured it wasn't the type of book you would usually read–all the more reason I'm glad you bought it.  I appreciate it so much.  And I'm so glad you liked her!

  10. Jessica Baverstock 04/05/2013 at 22:35 #

    Hi Galen,

    I couldn’t read your comment without wanting to jump up and down, give you a hug and tell you in no uncertain terms that you *ARE* a writer.

    If ever there was more proof of ‘writerliness’ in a person than your above comment, I have yet to see it.

    Please keep telling yourself that you are a writer. That self-belief is so important.



  11. Maryse 04/06/2013 at 06:24 #

    When we follow our passion magic happens. That’s so true, Charlotte, and I’m so happy that you heard the call to do just that. As you know I’ve committed to a writing practice and I find that, unless life gets crazy busy, I can write effortlessly every other day. It works for me. And if at some point I want to write every day, I will. the key is to keep the process pleasant and spiritually rich. ♥

  12. Charlotte Dixon 04/06/2013 at 07:18 #

    This is what I adore about my wonderful readers–how you guys support and encourage each other!Thanks Jessica, for your great answer to Galen. 

  13. Charlotte Dixon 04/06/2013 at 07:20 #

    Maryse, I love that you’ve found a schedule that works for you! That is what it is all about. I can share mine with you in hopes that it inspires, but everyone has a different life and different responsibilities and we need to design our writing around that. The key thing is setting up something to follow. Thanks for commenting!

  14. Terri 04/06/2013 at 10:25 #

    Making the rounds to some of my favorite blogs after a blogging/blog-reading hiatus. I keep telling myself I’m going to incorporate a schedule. Alas, I’ve not yet done so. I have a hundred good reasons, of course, as does every other writer. Thanks for the reminder that it’s possible.

  15. Charlotte Dixon 04/06/2013 at 10:30 #

    Terri, thanks for stopping by and welcome back!  I'm actually taking a brief break from my Saturday morning writing session.  I tend to be the type that resists schedules but I'm finding it is helping me find myself as a productive writing again so I recommend it!

  16. Amanda Martin 04/07/2013 at 07:13 #

    I have to say I’m looking forward to my eldest starting school in September so I might have time every day (when the youngest sleeps) to get some writing done. Fitting social media and blogging around the kids is possible, but dedicating a block to fiction writing is much harder: I need to be alone for a start (I can’t write when hubbie is in the house, don’t ask me why!)
    I’m so happy your routine is working so well. Long may it continue.

  17. Charlotte Dixon 04/07/2013 at 07:23 #

    Yes, I agree with you, Amanda–it is far more difficult to fit fiction writing into a crazy hubbub of a schedule.  Writing a full-length book does require coherent thought!  I find that I can make notes, jot ideas, and so forth at such times but that is often about it.  Even writing a few ideas down can help you advance, though.  I bet you'll get a ton done when your son is in school next year and September will be here before you know it.

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