GETTING STARTED: Scheduling is a Big Help

by Myra Nour

Sometimes, one of the toughest issues facing writers is time…or the lack of it. Some of us work full or part-time, others attend college and may be working too, and many may be raising children. And then there are those lucky few, like myself, who no longer work, the children have left home, and are devoting their time to writing full-time.

Each writer faces their own problems to overcome in dealing with time and scheduling. For the ones working and/or attending college…when can they write? The mothers have to secure a time slot when their children are asleep, involved in play, or perhaps visiting relatives. Then, at home writers with lots of time on their hands, must stay focused and not become distracted by daily life – housework and errands – and fight boredom.

The best advice I can give for any of these problem/time factors, is to schedule your writing time. At 1st, this may seem contrary to plugging into creative juices, but it can actually stimulate creativity. The easiest way I can explain this process, is by telling you how it went for me when I 1st started using scheduling.

In 1997, I finally made up my mind to write my book. I worked full time at a stressful job and came home mentally drained almost everyday. I decided to try a schedule because leaving myself open to “spontaneous” writing – when the urge hit or I received a creative spurt – just wasn’t working. I could easily talk myself out of writing with litanies of “I’m too tired, I have to cook dinner,” etc.

The 1st schedule I tried, was telling myself that I’d write 2 pages every night. Sometimes this worked and sometimes it didn’t. There days when I would churn out more than 2 pages and days when I was just too tired/stressed to write. So, I redid my scheduling to – “I’ll write one chapter a week, with an average of 15-20 pages per chapter.”

Aha! This worked well. On days when the juices flowed, the amount of pages produced would balance out with the fruitless days when I didn’t feel like writing. I also set a specific time for my writing, which was 7 pm.

Of course there were weeks when I was physically sick and no writing would be accomplished, but otherwise, I tried very hard to keep my self-promise.

It also helped tremendously that my husband volunteered to take over many of the household duties to free up my time more. If you can get your spouse or children to pitch in, this is a priceless gift.

Now, about the “spontaneous creativity” issue…a wonderful thing happens when you schedule. The writing itself seems to be a self-perpetuating animal, in other words, the more you write, the easier it gets, you become more prolific and a better writer. One stipulation you have to make to yourself, is, no matter how unstimulated you feel when you sit down, write something…anything. This is a type of brainstorming. You may feel uninspired when you sit down, but simply the act of writing down words will usually “unplug” you and open up your juices.

I had to use this technique a few times and I might type a whole page I didn’t like, feeling that it was boring/uninsured. But I found that along the way of building that page of “blah” writing, my creativity would start flowing. I might have to go back later and delete that page or redo it with more imagery; but it served its purpose of kick starting my writing that day.

Now, as far as whether you are a writer who works, attends college, are a mom, or a full-time endeavor; it will be up to you to choose how and when to schedule your writing time…but you should.

I like to think of an important saying in relation to personal writing success. “If you never take a risk in your life, you’ll never know if you could have succeeded; for without risk, there is no growth.” (This is paraphrased the best I can remember.)

I didn’t want to look back at my life when I got old and say “I regret that I never wrote the book I always said I was going to.” Give it a shot and even if you never get published, at least you can say you gave it your best effort; after all, it’s “better to love and lost than to never loved at all.” And as romance writers, we certainly know this as a truth!

© 1999 by Myra Nour

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