A Writing Schedule to Fit your Life

SMART goals. You know the acronym for getting a job done: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Like many writers, you have the Specific and Measurable—a word count you need to achieve. You have Relevant and Timely—you’re a writer working to a deadline. You’ve done the math and calculated a daily word count.

And yet, like many writers, published or not, you struggle with Attaining your goals while maintaining your sanity. When things get hairy, try some Analysis. Not of your book’s plot, outline, or summary. But the way your daily life interacts with your writing life.

Go Weekly for the Count

Count the number of weeks between Now and your Target Date. Divide this by the number of words outstanding. This gives your Weekly Word Count.

A Forkful of Fudge Helps the Freak-out Go Down…

The slightest slip off target in a rigid schedule will increase stress levels. Build leeway into your schedule to allow for unforeseen events.

Three methods are:

  • Move your target date back by a week, e.g. instead of November 1st, use a date of October 24th and re-calculate your word count
  • Increase your daily word count target by 10 – 15%
  • Use a 5-day week, or 4 days, or 3 days

Recalculate your Daily Word Count to incorporate the fudge factor.

Not All Goals are Measured in Words

Writing has goals other than word count: editing, getting critiques, revising, writing a blurb, synopsis and query letter.

Your life has goals other than writing: family, friends, work, chores etc. I have a goal to sit for the Grade One Piano Exam in June 2013, so I schedule an hour a day at my piano.

Whatever they are, write them ALL down. Don’t forget You Time.

Get Real

Get yourself a calendar, set up a spreadsheet, use an online calendar, or go primitive with a pad and pencil.

Slot all goals that are NOT WRITING into a weekly schedule. Whatever time is left is for writing.

Nothing left? Can you work while waiting? Can you get up early? Stay up late? Work at lunch? Delegate chores? Hire a teen?

Still too demanding? If you can, move the target date to give yourself some breathing room.

Tweak It

In January, I set my writing goal as 1K a Day, 5 Days a Week. The schedule worked fine until I added another goal, social media. Guess what? My word count tanked.

I went back to my weekly schedule and slotted my new goal into the two non-writing days. No, it wasn’t that simple. It took discipline and another tweak, but last week, I wrote 6,029 words.

More Articles

More articles by Joan Leacott can be found at Articles for Writers.

© Joan Leacott 2012
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