I’m starting a new writing schedule

At the start of this year I determined that I would write a complete manuscript of a novel this year. Specifically, the novel I was working on in November, though starting again from scratch. And so far this year I have done very little work on it. I’ve made a couple of pages of notes, written a short story to give one of the key characters a more solid personality and motivations in my head, and I’ve managed about six paragraphs of the novel itself; less than a page.

Well, it’s about time I stopped being lazy. Because that’s the reason I’ve not been writing much. Well, laziness and tiredness, but mostly laziness. Or at least, prioritising other things like crochet and watching Avatar: the Last Airbender (at the same time). Well, tonight that ends. I have a new writing schedule.

For six days a week I will take a one hour session to work on the novel. The ideal session will consist of about ten to fifteen minutes getting in the zone – putting the right music on, reading a few writing related threads and articles online, that sort of thing. This will be followed by ten or fifteen minutes making notes on what’s going to happen in what I subsequently write – not just the events in sequence, but perhaps exploring character motivations or relationships or establishing for my own benefit the events that occurred outside my protagonist’s view.

Then, with 35 minutes remaining on the clock, I’ll start a 15 minute timed session of solid writing fiction. After this there will be a five minute break, followed by another fifteen minute session. The five minute break allows me time to get a drink, make further notes, or even just check for responses on forums.

Of course, not every session will come out ideally. I’ll try to stick to this for the main part, but where I get stuck, this would be substituted with other schedules. Maybe I’d spend three fifteen minute sessions brainstorming ideas for getting to the next plot point, or establishing a new character for my own benefit. Maybe I’d take a two day break to instead write a short story exploring what this or that character does after the events I’d just written about, or to get from the first time they encounter the protagonist to the second time they do in the novel – giving me better context for their actions when that second encounter occurs.

I’ll keep records of this too. Not on a spreadsheet (which I always end up neglecting), but on a sheet of paper. I’ve printed off a basic calendar for 2014, and for each day I will mark the calendar with a circle for a success compliant with the “ideal” day, an underline for a success for an “alternate” day, or a cross if I didn’t do anything or didn’t complete the session (I’d consider either working for 45 minutes total or having two 15 minute sessions actually writing to be successful, so a day when I rush the session due to time constraints but still put in the work is still a success).

And I’ll get a day off a week too, so I don’t burn out. That’ll be Sunday. I’ll leave the calendar empty for Sundays, rather than pre-emptively cross them all out, because I might change the day off later or I might work on some Sundays to make up for a missed day.

Finally, accountability: hello readers. I’m going to aim to post a scan or photo of the calendar I’m keeping records on about once a month, as part of a “progress report”, to motivate myself to keep going – and enable you to call me to account where I fail.

So we’ll see how things go with this plan, and in my first progress report in a month (or more likely, in five weeks’ time – at the end of February) I’ll analyse what data I have, reassess the schedule and see what improvements can be made.

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