Schedules

About a month ago, in an effort to introduce a little bit of structure into my writing time and ensure that I would actually get a little bit of writing done, I went into Google calendar and set up some alarms to remind me it was time to get down to business. Since I’m so rusty, I wanted to take it slow: only five minutes per day, then five minutes more the next week, five minutes more the week after that, and so on. If I wanted to keep going, I could obviously continue, but I didn’t want to spend half an hour staring at the screen if I just wasn’t feeling it.

The results… well, they were wildly inconsistent.

A lot of the time, I just plain ignored the alarm. Often I had good reasons to do so. In hindsight, I probably picked a bad time for the alarms to go off, though I’m not sure that a different time would have worked better. Life as a freelancer can be very loosy-goosy, and it’s been a long time since I’ve adhered to a strict schedule for anything. I’m just not used to that way of thinking anymore, and it’s hard to adjust.

I really wanted to stick to the plan, but I found that it was very difficult to actually do so. Sometimes I was still working when the alarm went off at five thirty. Other times I had just finished working and was halfway into cooking dinner when my phone informed me it was time to write. Or I had just left the house to go for a much needed walk to clear my head. Or I suddenly felt like I had a head full of fuzz. Or, or, or, a hundred different ors. Don’t get me wrong, I did write quite a bit during the past month; I’m just not so sure that the reminders had anything to do with it. Like I said, I often ignored the alarms, and if I did write, it was later in the evening.

Perhaps that means I should try again, but set up the reminders later in the day. I do thrive on structure, but I also get so terribly frustrated when I have to go off schedule, which is bound to happen when work gets busy. I know I shouldn’t count on failure before I’ve even gotten started, but I feel that if I have a set plan, I will eventually give up. Maybe I just have to accept that my life isn’t compatible with a strict schedule, even if I like the idea of just sitting down at a specific time, without having to actively make the decision every day; it would just be my routine.

The real crux of the problem, I suppose, is that I can’t predict what tomorrow is going to look like, let alone next week. I get assignments when I get them, and there’s no such thing as a heads up before a particularly slow or particularly busy period. I just have to take whatever comes my way. I suppose I’m fortunate to have more busy periods with work than I do slow periods, but that also means that when I have a little breather, I feel like I should take advantage of the opportunity to relax. I rarely get more than a few hours of reprieve before the next work email ticks in, and my to-do list is hardly ever empty. But if I always allow myself to relax, however well-deserved the break may be, I will never write another word again. That’s how I ended up going four years without writing much of anything, after all.

I’m always interested to hear what other people do. Do you schedule your writing time, or do you just write as and when the mood strikes you? Do you make a point to write every day, even on busy days, or do you think it’s best to ease up when there’s just to much going on?

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