The Secret to Your Writing Success: A Schedule

July 15, 2013 1:46 am

I love summer.  Hot steamy days, hours poolside, a Coppertone tan.  The daughter of two schoolteachers, I was well into my second year of medical school when I realized I had chosen a profession where working year-round was de rigueur.  I still struggle to resist the call of the perfect 80-degree day.  So how’s a summer girl to see patients and accomplish all the writing to be done before fall NIH deadlines roll around?

It’s simple.  A schedule.

Writing doesn’t take huge blocks of time, it takes scheduled, consistent effort.

Anthony Trollope is a great example of a man who recognized the value of daily blocks of writing time.  While not necessarily resisting the siren call of summer, Trollope did have real life responsibilities to work around.  A financially challenged postman of the Victorian era, Trollope set firm writing goals, waking at five to get in three hours of writing before heading off to his “real job”.  The result? 47 novels, 28 works of non-fiction, 2 plays, and more than a handful of short stories.

While I am not suggesting that you set aside three hours a day to write, nor wake at 5 to begin your day (nor write 47 novels for that matter!), I do know that the only way to accomplish your writing goals is to decide what you want to accomplish and set aside the time to do it.  Waiting for inspiration, or writing “when you have time” or when all the other daily to-dos have been checked off your list, just doesn’t work.

But back to the summer bit.  Be realistic.  If what you really want to do is enjoy some quality time at the pool, do it.  Don’t schedule time you won’t realistically be able or willing to set aside.  Better one committed and enthusiastic hour than a missed or resented three-hour stretch.  Set firm, realistic goals, then as Nike says, “Just Do It”.

And now that I’ve accomplished my writing goal for today, I’m off to the pool for some sunshine and a late-afternoon gin and tonic.  Cheers!