Revisiting what worked to get me started writing again

My hiatus after my last book is stretching out into a third month now and I’m not too happy about that, so I’ve decided to revisit something that worked in the past to get me started writing again: a temporary schedule.

The one thing that I won’t be doing is revisiting the timers. I am confident in saying that I really am done with timing my writing. It didn’t make a difference in my output in the long-run and it stole some of the joy of writing from me. My monthly word counts might have fallen over the last couple of months, but that is pretty clearly because of the funk that came on after finishing and publishing my last book.

This is the getting started again phase and I’m obviously still having troubles with that.

One day I’ll conquer it. Until then, I’ll keep trying whatever it takes to get me writing again.

11 am to 5 pm is going to be my daily writing time for a while. And if I like it and can stick with it, maybe for a little longer than a while.*

I’ve just about decided that perfectionism is the reason I hate schedules. I made a note about this in my catch-all journal. Let me see if I can dig it up.

Found it! I’m just going to quote the whole bit I typed into OneNote so I can finish this post quickly (I’m practicing that too). I highlighted the part that really resonated with me the most when I read back through it.

Type up my thoughts from last night about discipline and a plan and how I don’t have to let perfection hold me back from having a plan.

Maybe, just maybe, I have to stop believing that anything anyone else has to say about how to work has nothing to do with me and no bearing on my life.

What do I want for myself? And stop thinking an inability to be perfect at whatever it is means it can’t or won’t work.

When I imagine myself going through my ideal day, the routine is very schedule-like. I get up, get coffee, do stuff, sit down and write, then do other stuff. I can picture it all really clearly. Having a writing day all broken up and spread out is not the ideal.

My days are calm and split into parts. Reading and writing and leisure and TV and some other work. Maybe a project or two sometimes but always this core routine. So that’s what I should do—for me, my way. Whatever time(s) of day I like best.

This was the point at which I decided 11 am to 5 pm was best for me. I’ve been having sleep cycle issues and getting up later and later, and 11 am keeps me from stressing about what time I get up in an effort to “stick to the schedule”.

This schedule is a little more ambitious than the one I used last time because it blocks out six hours a day for writing time, although I’m not expecting myself to actually write nonstop for the duration, just do as much writing and thinking about writing as I can around necessary, and hopefully short, breaks.

The most important thing I realized was that sometimes I just get stressed because I can’t stick to the schedule, but the reality is that there’s not ever going to be a schedule I can stick with better than any other. It’s all about accepting that I won’t stick to it some days but that some days I really will—and those are the days that will add up over time and keep me working and keep my word counts going up and keep me from having excessively long stretches where I fall into the habit of not writing.

*Update

I’ve since adjusted this to 11 am to 3 pm and some days I do move it later in the day instead of strictly enforcing the start time as 11 am. This works because I can’t stand the idea of missing the time just because I’ve decided I have to start at 11 and end at 3. That feels too much like a straitjacket and very detrimental to my long-term success with the schedule. But I do try not to change things every day and I do try to start at 11 as often as I can.

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