To schedule writing time or to wing it? #amwriting

I think that to be a writer, you must be obsessed with your own art, taking and making time to write. There is no other way to produce a finished book.

But to be a happy writer, you must have a balanced life. What is the point of life if you’re so busy writing about fictional lives that you aren’t present in your own?

That need to be present in my real life is why I schedule my writing time.

Some people manage to fit short bursts of writing into their daily schedule, writing at work while on break or at lunch. Others must schedule a dedicated block of time for writing, by either rising two hours before they must depart for work or by skipping TV in the evening.

I fall into both categories.

When I am gripped with a new idea, I find myself stopping off and on all day as I go about the business of daily life, making notes, quickly getting down any thoughts that occur. This is a habit I developed when I was employed outside my home. Until 2012, I was like everyone else, with a job and commitments that took precedence over any writing I might have wanted to do. I saw very little television in those days, as evenings and weekends were my only time for writing, making art, or for reading.

Now that I’m retired from working outside my home, six in the morning until noon are my best working hours. Unfortunately, being retired means you are always available when a crisis occurs. Events happen that disturb my writing schedule, but I usually forgive the perpetrators and allow them to live. At that point, I revert to writing whenever I have a free moment.

I’m a less than enthusiastic housekeeper even when not writing, but I keep things dug out. I’m like every other person. I make a stab at vacuuming and dusting, and cleaning bathrooms. I do laundry and change the beds regularly. These are the tasks everyone does, chores that keep our homes livable. I fit these chores into my writing time the way I used to fit writing into my working life.

But there is one hard, inviolable rule in my home, a rule of my own making. Whatever else happens during the day, we sit down to the table and eat dinner together. We turn off the television and turn on quiet music and enjoy the meal as a family. Then we work together to clear the table and clean the kitchen, continuing any discussions that were begun during dinner. This time of the day is dedicated to keeping the lines of communication open and maintaining the connections that bind us.

When my children were in school, I made dinner a priority. After school activities and sports sometimes interfered but for the most part, the evening meal was the one sure meeting place for my family all through “the blender years” of child-rearing.

Balance is the key to a happy life. We want to feel productive and creative, and we want to share our lives and interests with others. Creativity applies to everything from making a meal, to painting, to coming up with a business plan. Your spouse or child’s creative bent may be wildly different from yours, but if you want their support, you must be supportive of them. Therefore, we who write should set aside a specific time to write, allowing us to be creative and still be supportive of our families who all have activities and interests of their own.

In many ways, to be a writer is to be supremely selfish—about every aspect of life. It also requires discipline and the ability to set aside an hour or two just for that pursuit, a pocket of time where no one is allowed to disturb you. It might be good to encourage your family members to use that time to indulge in their interests and artistic endeavors.

Write when and where you can, and the rest of the time you must live and love with the same intensity that you write.


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20 responses to “To schedule writing time or to wing it? #amwriting

  1. Stephen Swartz

    The muse is so delicate and fragile that I must give it priority whenever I man be blessed with its presence. In such a circumstance, the world must wait.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. There are the good and the bad about being retired. My biggest problem is managing my time sufficiently. Interruptions are maddening but in my house normal everyday events. For me, there is no planning that helps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • At times, this house it’s that way too. I’m the logical one to be the family caregiver, so when emergencies happen, I’m the Mama ya call. But I manage even then, because I get up so much earlier than any normal human 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I definitely go through phases where I schedule big chunks of time, but I find that often drains me of “writing mojo”. Usually, I seem to function better when I slip random bits of writing in between the chaotic moments of my life. For some reason. 🙂


    • I use both methods when I am in the groove. But when I’m doing recisions and working on editing, I’m usually able to write when I wake up. So, for me, that schedule really works well.


  4. Enjoyed this post, Connie!

    My writing time is mapped out similar to yours, but with nods to the chronic illnesses I deal with. Some days are easier to push through than others-and there are days I’m just too stubborn to give in. 😁

    I also don’t compromise on meal times. I grew up with family meals and raised my three children the same way. Even now that we’re empty-nesters, everything else stops until the meal is over.

    Now, if I could just put the characters in my head on a schedule… 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, that does pose the problem, doesn’t it–but having that hour or two at night that was Mom’s writing time gave me the opportunity to write poems and short stories when I was raising the kids. My mind didn’t run to novels in those days.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Nesie's Place and commented:
    Wonderful post! Write… and remember to live! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so glad you keep dinnertime sacred for your family. That was the way we did it when I was growing up, and I think it’s very important.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Just Discovered A New Author – TheKingsKidChronicles

  8. Hi, Connie. Just read the excerpt of Book 1 in the Tower of Bones series. Have added the whole series to my Kindle wish list. Great writing, enthralling book. Love this period of history and the warp into another place. Reblogged and promoted on my blog: thekingskidchronicles.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. MicheleMariePoetry

    I’m just learning to really make the dishes happen (with the family included) after meals, usually it was me alone as homework, sports, etc called. Lately, I’ve even been requiring assistance in the making of the meal…


  10. Thank you! We are all journeying on this road, learning as we go. Edwin is one of my favorite characters! ?


  11. Wow, this post got a big response. What I especially like about your approach is you schedule things, including your writing time and then remain disciplined enough to respect your schedule. Because I teach writing classes, I talk to a lot of people about how they get the writing done while managing to also have a life. My impression is that all too often, especially among women, the writing time suffers when family and or work demands increase. Until you find a way to make real money from your writing, it can be hard to convince people that your writing time is not the time to bother you. On the other hand, it does seem that respect of writing time only works when respect of family time works. John Updike published something in the neighborhood of 50 books (and these were not series, in the usual sense). According to what he said in interviews, he had an assigned writing time. He wrote until he felt satisfied with a certain word count, then he put aside the writing and got busy with other things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think a lot of people are trying to find the time to be all things to all people, and it isn’t possible–I was that way when my kids were still at home. But I kept a notebook handy and wrote down Ideas as they came during the day. My second job was as a hotel maid on weekends and holidays. I was able to keep my notebook on my cart, and then on the bus going home I organized my thoughts.