Actual Writing Advice: Schedule Your Writing Goals

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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 Teamup.com¬†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?