Actual Writing Advice: Schedule Your Writing Goals



Back in July I told Julie and Heather that I wanted to do X, Y, and Z. Heather said, “Show me the schedule.” So I sat down at and filled out a calendar for the end of July, all of August and the first week of September. It took three hours.

X is done. Y is daily and on going. Z is incomplete. I have to have Z done by the end of this week. It was actually supposed to be done at the end of August. Obviously I overscheduled. But by golly, I am not adding anything more to that schedule until it’s done.

Having a specific schedule to adhere to is a real boost. I like to check off things when they’re done. I don’t let myself move on until everything is complete. It’s one thing to say, “I’m going to write a book this year.” It’s another to say, “I’m going to write one chapter a week. I’m going to be half-way done by July 4. I’m going to have a full manuscript by Dec. 31.”

It’s good to say, “I’m going to write every day for two hours.” But I think it’s even better if you say, “I’m going to write two hours a day and have a short story done by Saturday.” It keeps you honest with yourself. Maybe it will prevent you from spending that two hours on Youtube, or reading news articles, or twitter. Sometimes I get done with an hour and I’ve done nothing but check stuff on the internet that isn’t related to my writing project at all. If I have a looming deadline, even a self-imposed one, I can click on my schedule and say, “Better not go through my WordPress Reader right now. I need Z done in two days!”

I know some of you out there schedule your goals. Do you have any special tricks that keep you focused?

4 thoughts on “Actual Writing Advice: Schedule Your Writing Goals

  1. I have used hard and fast deadlines to get my first draft done for my novel. I really did pour it on at the end and completed the task. I was proud of that but also a little burned out and in a celebratory mode that made getting back to the project more difficult than it should have been,

    I don’t have the added pressure of multitasking my writing projects (yet). But I do imagine a calendar will be involved.

    • The end of projects for me is like the aftermath of Christmas for others. Last Tuesday I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I’d just published a story and felt terribly sklonklish. But I still had Y and Z to do.

  2. Before I had so much reading and writing (academics) I tried to keep a schedule of writing “at least” 4 posts per month on my blog, sometime I’d do more. However, I haven’t written anything for any of my manuscripts for over 2 years now. I’m ashamed to say, it’s apparent that I’ve lost my desire to publish! :(

    • I can understand losing the desire to publish. It’s a frustrating path to take. But I hope you start writing for yourself. Working through stories is a great exercise in thinking. But if you’re doing college course work, you might be tired of thinking too :)