Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons I Make a Schedule

Chess Board - TwitterYesterday, I mentioned having deadlines for my writing. Today, I’m going to list my top ten reasons for why I have a schedule:

  1. A schedule lets me know where I’m going. For those of you who haven’t figured it out, I’m all for spontaneity as long as I have a map. Let me wander freely, yes, but tell me where I’m going first.
  2. A schedule pushes me to complete things. A lot of us (not all of us) like to have a deadline to work toward. I love deadlines. I do my best work with deadlines.
  3. A schedule gives me an excuse to make lists. I also love lists. Schedules are just detailed lists.
  4. A schedule helps me not forget anything. Have you ever finished a project only to realize you forgot the cover? I never have, but I also have a schedule that clearly states when the cover needs to be started and finished.
  5. A schedule reduces tension. Because I always know what I need to do or haven’t done, I can stress less about the process and just worry about the writing.
  6. A schedule lets me tell other people where I’m at. If you have an editor, a formatter, a cover designer, or a publisher, they want to know when they get the next book. Unless you’re G.R.R. Martin, you should be able to tell them. Schedules make it easier to say, “I’ll have the book to you in a week for editing.”
  7. A schedule lets me feel productive. There are times when you’re deep in the bowels of the book, waiting for the whale to vomit you out to publication, that you feel like you’re not going anywhere. If you have a schedule, you know where you’re at and, therefore, you know you’re moving toward the next point.
  8. A schedule gives you more time. Ask any productivity expert: when you plan your day and work your plan, you get more done.
  9. A schedule gives me more time to goof off. Because I get more done in my writing day, my schedule gives me time to play the latest video game for six hours straight. Okay, not really, but I do get in the occasional binge watch of “Galavant” on Hulu.
  10. A schedule lets me juggle multiple projects at the same time. If you’re a one-project-at-a-time writer, then this may not apply to you. But if you’re trying to hit four-to-six books a year (and it is doable without being a hack), you need to juggle. Having a schedule makes it easier to not drop all the balls– at least not all at once.

Do you use a schedule? Why?

Motivation Monday: Getting Past The First Chapter

Chess Board - TwitterI’m going to assume if you’re reading this you’ve taken me up on my challenge to write and publish an indie book. If you haven’t, go back and read the earlier posts first. I’m pretty sequential for a Figment. Doing things in order is always a good idea.

You have an outline (or you’re humoring me and pretending). You know why you’re writing. You have a first chapter. And now… you’re bored. Or you think you’re blocked.

Here’s my take on it: there is no such thing as Writer’s Block.

Before I get a bunch of angry replies, let me clarify. People to get blocked, but it’s not truly writer’s block. Writer’s block is this mystical thing where your muse has deserted you. Sorry, cupcake. While there are real muses, they don’t cause writer’s block. Here are some reasons you can feel blocked, though:

  • Your story is going in a dead-end direction. If your story isn’t making sense, your subconscious may be trying to tell you to turn it around. Break the rule about not editing and go back and find what isn’t working. If you can’t find it, get a trusted but brutally honest friend to tell you.
  • You have a stressor in your life. Real life is stressful. I avoid it whenever I can. Apparently real people can’t do that. If your life is highly stressful, feeling pressure to finish a book can add to that. Give yourself a day off if you have that luxury. If you don’t, write something silly in the middle of your story. You can edit it out later, but it may get your creative juices flowing.
  • You didn’t outline. One thing about outlines: you always know where you’re going. I know there are writers who say this destroys creativity for them. As long as those writers never get stuck, bully on them. Keep up the good fight! However, for those of us who do get stuck, an outline can tell you where to go next when you just aren’t feeling it.
  • You’re relying on feeling. This is one of those “suck it up, buttercup” moments. I didn’t feel like writing this blog post. There’s a major Spelling Bee Hive event today and I’m missing part of the live bookcast. But I am committed to blogging and it needed to be done. So… I wrote. I hate you all for it, but it will be done shortly. Also, now that I’ve started, I’m remembering that I like writing more than I like watching a bunch of letters chase each other around a grassy field, so I may keep writing.
  • You don’t have a deadline. It doesn’t matter where your deadline comes from, but many of us (not all of us) work better with a deadline. I get my best work done twenty minutes before it’s due. Set yourself a deadline. In fact, I’ll be sure to post about making a schedule later. I’ll lose all three of my regular readers when I do it, but it’ll still be there.
  • You need a break. I know the maxim: write daily. If you’ve been doing that, consider a day of rest. Recharge. Take a quick break. But get back on it tomorrow.

So, what’s keeping you from writing today? How did you resolve it?