writing schedule for busy professionals ghost story

A Writing Schedule for the busy professional

Due to an unfortunate series of events, I have found myself without employment this new year and intend to use my newfound time productively.

Not only am I hoping to learn how to be more efficient with my writing, but I want to create a schedule I can use when I am back in work too.

Unfortunately, Ebook 3 ‘The Dark Arm’ has been massively delayed as a result of not only seeking a new job but also a new home. Consequently, only 2000 words of a goal 15000 have been completed.

In my studies, I rarely find any schedules that relate to the timing of activities so much as the activities themselves. All of the “Lifehacks”, “Habits” and “Routines” of successful writers available to you on the net don’t matter if you only know WHAT to do instead of HOW to do it.

We all know we need to read, and to write, but it’s too easy to pretend we’re brilliant at doing that, just like our literary heroes.

By creating my schedule, I can be honest with myself about what I have been doing, and what I should be doing, and as I learn to improve, I can hopefully help you, too.

 It is worth noting that I intend each of these to be a typical day, and to carry it out four to six days a week.

NB: this is what I intend to stick to, and it won’t be the best schedule ever, in fact, many people will prefer to do things differently, so let me know your tips for productive writing in the comments.

A Writing Schedule for the full-time employed:

The thought process:

I’ve found that working full time as a writer – something I’ve been doing for 3 or so years now – it can be difficult to want to write for yourself after spending most of the day writing for someone else.

If you’re in the creative industry or marketing, like I used to be, your creativity can dry up very rapidly, making it extremely difficult to create anything worthwhile in your spare hours.

Thankfully, I’ve found a few tricks to help overcome this, including and not limited to the free coffee and stationary offered by most employers.

Early mornings:

For a long time when my alarm rang at 7am (I know, it isn’t that early) I would simply hit snooze and go back to sleep for a bit.

Now, I think I will rise straight away to get a glass of water and some yoghurt, before firing up the kindle for 30 minutes or more of reading. I like to read a variety of genres, as well as books I know I’ll hate, so that I can learn as much as possible.

Once I’m on the way to work, I’ll have read a fair amount, and will be able to make notes on my findings on the commute, like what I liked or didn’t like, and whether I should read more by the author.

First coffee around 8 45 or 9, followed by writing down a quick to-do list for the day in the office (not outside it).

Elevenses:

First break for second coffee and doodling on notepad with a pen or pencil.

Past noon:

Lunch – eat whatever you want and lots of it. I find that hunger is a distraction you can ill-afford when trying to work.

Early afternoon:

Second break for third, fourth, fifth coffee. Start writing notes to think about for the commute home.

Late afternoon:

Build upon your notes from your afternoon break, what can you write this evening that will contribute to your blog, or a current piece you’re working on.

Try to think word count, start, middle and finish.

It doesn’t matter if it’s one hundred words, one thousand or more.

Evening:

Soon after getting in change into comfortable clothing and write at whatever acts as your desk in your home. Once you’ve done this, do some brief exercise if you’re not too tired. A short gym episode or swim is enough and will make you hungry.

Eat a healthy-ish meal. I normally have soup. You can have your first beer of the day now.

Go back to what you wrote earlier, is it terrible? If so re-write.

Late:

Get to bed earlyish and read or write. I like to use Evernote when I am on my phone.

Try to get at least six hours a night. Have more beer or a strong alcoholic drink if that helps.

A Writing Schedule for the part-time or unemployed:

The thought process:

Before I became an in-house writer at my first job for an online pharmacy, I would write part-time, as well as working in a bar and studying a Master’s Degree.

It was challenging, but a lot of fun and very rewarding, some of my best stuff formulated back then when I was raw and emotional (before I was a stronger writer).

I think a lot of this is down to the freedom to choose how to shape your time and it took me a while before I had my own schedule. I am thinking now about returning to something more like this:

Early mornings:

Rise early to read. If you have time before work try to get to the gym.

Elevenses:

Walk to the bar and open up, take notes in the quiet time or enjoy talking to the locals.

If you don’t work, you could walk to the shops to get groceries or coffee instead.

Past noon:

Take a lunch break and do nothing constructive. Maybe play video games or watch television. Think about how stuff is written.

If possible, learn an instrument or language in your spare time.

Early afternoon:

Around 3pm is a good time to decide how you will spend the rest of the day. Make a little list of things you could do that you then won’t have to do tomorrow.

Late afternoon:

If you’re a mature student like I was, this is the time you would be heading to your evening classes to write and learn.

Evening:

If possible, socialise. Talk to people and listen as much as possible. One of the reasons Jane Austen was such a good writer is because she was very observational. You can improve your powers of observation, deduction and emotional intelligence by spending time with strangers as well as friends.

Late:

Eat late and sleep late, allowing yourself some of your favourite vices and attempt to inspire creativity. You’ll need some ideas for tomorrow.