productivity

Five Ways to Schedule Your Writing Time in 2015

This is the first of a fifteen post series, entitled "15 Days to Writerly Awesome in 2015."

Good Morning, pretty people! Get yourselves a cup of coffee and prepare for some valuable, writer lessons. It's the first Monday of the new year, and with that, the beginning of my first blog series called, "15 Days to Writerly Awesome in 2015." With several guest posts from my much cooler friends, we're going to write ourselves into awesomeness this year. Ready for it? Hooray!

I always start of the new year with a million good wishes, plans and strategies. Some of them stick, while some of them do not. Last year, I made this writing calendar, which turned out to be good in theory, but a bit difficult to keep up with consistently. However, I made a few concrete resolutions that I not only kept, but exceeded.

This year, I plan to publish my book. I couldn't have reached this point without a dedicated, conscious commitment to writing daily. There are a few ways to go about doing this. Let's walk through them together, shall we?

1. Set Time of Day

I can make this statement with utmost certainty: I will never be the type of writer who wakes up before work to get my writing time in for the day. It's just not going to happen. For some writers, scheduling a portion of the morning is a lifesaver. Recently, I've been writing on my lunch break, which has been a great strategy. For the most part, I'm a nighttime, before bed writer. Figuring out the best time of day for your writing schedule is essential to maintaining a consistent writing routine. (That sounded kind of fancy and high-horsey, but you get the gist.)

For me, it's easier to put myself to bed thirty minutes earlier than to pull myself out of it in the morning. It all comes down to what works for you.

2. Word Count Goal 

I've spoken about the magic of word sprinting before, and I've mentioned Jeff Goins' My 500 Words program. Word count seems to be the easiest way to measure your writing. Personally, I aimed for more than 500 words a day, but Jeff's program was a great way to ease into the process. I try to pen at least 1,000 words, because I know I'll end up trashing about half of them. (Did you realize how many words get cut in the book-making process? It's like alphabet soup over here, y'all.)

There are a few options for you: a weekly word goal, that lends itself to some flexibility. I'd say about 5,000 words a week at minimum. A daily word count goal is also a good thing to shoot for, but can be a bit more difficult to manage.

3. A Page a Day 

I'm not going to lie. This is about the bare minimum for writer people. A page is approximately 250 words double-spaced or 500 single-spaced. This is basically a journal entry. However, it's a good way to kickstart your routine, and also an opportunity to practice your longhand. (I happen to be a big believer in writing on paper.)

If you write a page a day, you could have a novel in a year. And chances are, when you get started writing, a page just won't be enough. You writer machine, you.

4. Time Increments (an hour, etc.) 

"I'm going to sit here and write for an hour and I'm not leaving this chair until I do." This kind of writer is a habitual person, and most likely pairs this with strategy #1. Kudos to you, my timely friend. This strategy works as long as you hold yourself accountable. The problem I find is that structuring your writing time around, well, time itself can make your word count fluctuate. Try your best to not squander your first thirty minutes staring at a blank screen.

I suggest pairing this strategy with the sprinting technique. "I will sit here and write as fast as I can for thirty minutes" is usually a much more effective method.

5. Deadlines 

Still with me? Did your forehead just fall on the keyboard? Deadlines are not a negative thing. They're simply a means to an end. "I plan to write three chapters in the next week and a half." It's an incredibly effective way to hold yourself accountable, especially if you tack on some kind of reward or consequence to it. "I will write 2,000 words by next Tuesday or I will have to go a week without coffee."

Yikes.

If that doesn't scare you, involve a friend. Have someone that expects your pages/chapters/words by that date, even if they're not actually going to read it. You feel a lot more pressure when there's someone waiting on the other side.

Discussion Time: How do you plan to make the most of your writing time in 2015? What's your favorite way to schedule your writing time?

How to Make Time to Write

Dear reader,

My name is Jenny Bravo. I'm twenty-three. My daily life consists of eight-hour work days, cooking, working out and writing. this. book. And you know what? That's about it.

Disclaimer: I can't  complain. Why? Because I don't have children to feed or a husband to talk to or soccer practice or parent teacher conferences or any of those things. I have me. And somehow, I still have to work hard to make time to write. Goodness, how do you moms do it?

Here's the thing, though: being an adult requires practicality, and writing/singing/art in general is the least practical, most important thing that we can do. If you're lucky enough to write full time, then you are amazing. Bravo, you! (Not that more time makes writing any less difficult. Because, it doesn't.)

If you're like me, and have a limited window of writing time, then we need strategy. We need to prioritize, organize, plan, plot. Basically, we have to TOTALLY go against our nature to make time to write. Sounds fun, right? Let's get started.

Take advantage of every spare moment.

We're creative. It comes with the territory. So, we need to get creative with our time. Maybe you're a morning person (more power to you). Try waking up thirty minutes early, fifteen even. Then write as much as you can in that set time.

Maybe you're a night person. Put yourself to bed thirty minutes early. Write for thirty minutes until you fall asleep. ADVANCED MOVE: Write on your lunch break. This is my newest strategy. With an hour for lunch, I could knock out about 2,000 words. Try this, once or twice a week. Let me know if it works for you!

Word Sprint.

With time restraints, we can't afford writer's block. We don't have the luxury of fumbling around until we find the words. WE NEED WORDS, NOW! Did that sound authoritative? Good. Word sprints are every writer's best kept secret. Set a timer: 30 minutes? 15? Even 10! Then get writing.

As many words as possible without editing, without stopping. You'll be AMAZED at how this unlocks all the words you've been hoarding. I can write about 1,000 words in thirty minutes. If I do that three times a day, imagine the possibility! (NOTE: I do not do this three times a day. Yet.)

Hide your phone, hide your TV.

I'll admit it. After work, I just want to lounge around and not use my brain. But there comes a point where my book is calling and I have to answer it, of course. But I want to talk to my friends on Twitter. And I want to see all those cute coffee pins on Pinterest. And I need to blog. And and and…. the excuses keep on coming.

Are you sitting down? I'm about to lay some serious knowledge on you. READY? Do you know how much writing you can get done, simply by writing? I know. Mind-boggling. Sometimes, when I have my phone in my hand and I'm watching some stupid reality show and I have my WIP up on my screen, I have the audacity to say, "Yeah. I'm writing." NO. Give your writing your full attention. Make time to write, and write only. Just for a small portion of your day. Watch how much you'll get done!

Take Home Work: Read six strategies here, read seventeen ways here and read this hilarious post here.

DISCUSSION TOPIC: Okay, these ideas are great for writing. You will see results and words this way. But how about editing? groans groans groans. How do we make time to edit? Comment below. Let's get the ideas in motion!

Writing Calendar: Keeping Count of Your Writing

writing calendar
writing calendar

As part of my New Years resolution, I decided to try and write every day. I'll admit it: I'm not a disciplined writer. I try my best to get work done, but between school and work, it was hard to make time. Now, I've got a lot of time on my hands, and there's really no excuse. I applaud those of you who can write 3,000+ words a day while balancing kids and jobs and what have you. That's amazing. As for me, I decided to take one small step at a time, and start with a simple 500 words a day.

Jeff Goins, whom I love and admire, created this program called My 500 Words. It's a 31 day challenge where you simply write 500 words a day. As Jeff says, "It takes me anywhere from 30-60 minutes to write 500 words. And if I keep up with that pace, I’ve got a book in 90 days." Above, you can see a glimpse of my writing calendar. As you can see, vacation kind of got in the way, but I'm not punishing myself. I just picked up where I left off. And that's good!

Writing Calendar

My writing calendar is based off of word count, and I've got the system down. The idea came from writer Laini Taylor, who recently posted her methods on her blog. I'm the kind of person that does well with visuals, so seeing my progress in front of me really kickstarts my writing.

Here's how my system works:

1. Word Count Colors. I found this little marker/stamp at Target that has three colors: magenta, yellow and orange. If I write my 5oo words, then I get a magenta dot. Yellow is for 1,000 and Orange is for 1,500. I write the exact number of words on the day, so I can tally my words for the week.

2. Cupcakes. Math lesson: 500 words a day for 7 days equals 3,500 words for the week. If I reach that 3,500, I get a cupcake sticker. Pretty cute, huh?

3. Congratulations banner. Not pictured above, if I reach 14,000 words for the month, then I get a "congratulations" sticker for the month.

There's no "right" way to make a writing calendar, but it helps to make it fun! The main ingredients are writing and reward. Celebrate your work! You deserve it!

Do you have a writing calendar? How has it improved your writing time? Comment below!