Writing on a Schedule

Okay guys, there’s this NaNoWriMo thing coming up next month and I’ve already begun seeing the posts about people prepping and planning for their month of writing. I am not one of those people and I’ve made my stance about NaNo very clear. I hate it. I wrote a post about it earlier this year. So the timing of this post couldn’t be any better.

Okay. Not talking specifically about next month, I am still very much against writing on a schedule. I mean, the whole thing about it getting your creative juices flowing or that it helps you get words down that can be edited later or whatever reason people try to come up with is flat out annoying. Who came up with the notion that ALL writers must write using the same philosophy? Who decided upon some of the other “rules” of writing? Cause I don’t have a handbook here and I’m not paying any union fees for collective bargaining on my behalf.

You’re probably reading this as me hating people who write on a schedule. That isn’t true. What I do hate is when someone who writes well on a schedule seems to think that their particular writing philosophy should be followed by every serious writer out there. If you decide to write 1,000 or 3,000 words a day for a set period of time, be my guest, but don’t sit there and say that because you think it works for you that it absolutely positively must work for me too.  Cause no. Why don’t you let me figure that out.

I’ve tried it in the past and it doesn’t help me accomplish much of anything because instead of writing a story I find myself writing words that have no business being written. So if writing on a schedule works for you, great, but don’t tell me that it should work for me too.

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13 thoughts on “Writing on a Schedule

  1. Relating to this post and your NaNoWriMo: the whole defining goals in writing by word count? I’m on the third revision of my longer-than-I-meant-it-to-be manuscript. The editing process is a big, mean, nasty bitch. It would be so much more fun to ditch that and write a rough draft from scratch. Afterwards, I could be like, “I generated xx,xxx amounts of words!” Only then I would go back and read that first draft and realize that it needs just as much editing as my first manuscript… which isn’t even to say that either would be hopeless, just that neither would be ready for someone else to read until I made some attempt at revision.

    If someone does this kind of thing to kickstart their project, okay… but when people claim that they finished a novel in a month, in one go- and genuinely appear to think having typed out a first draft means finished- it sounds like they don’t understand the importance of a good edit… and it makes me suspect I don’t actually want to read their work.

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  2. I did NaNoWriMo for the first time last year, and enjoyed it. Not because I wanted to have a “goal” or had to write X amount of words, but for the reason that it gave me an excuse to sit down and write. I know that sounds odd, but bear with me for a minute. I work full time. I have two kids, one of which is a teenager and one that plays football. I cook, I clean, I volunteer and I write whenever I can. But I don’t always have time to make writing a part of my every day life. Days, weeks and months have gone by where I never pick up where I’ve left off because I don’t necessarily have the time to sit down and do it.

    To me participating in NaNoWriMo was a good way to figure out how to make time for writing inside my already hectic schedule. And then months later when I was in a rut with writing just sitting down and working on something, anything, just to write helped me get out of that rut.

    I totally agree that anyone who thinks that participating in NaNoWriMo, and writing 50,000 words, thinking it’s great and not doing a damn thing afterwards are idiots, but it can do well for people who need an extra push to write.

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  3. Sure, last year I looked at NaNoWriMo participants with the side eye, but also with a bit of admiration. This year, I’M ALL IN! The fact that I haven’t produced a manuscript this year tells me that it would probably be a good idea for me to join in. And I’m prepared for the editing… that’s a given. By the way, I had a good chuckle at “I find myself writing words that have no business being written.” 🙂

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  4. Amen, John. You got that right.

    I think this writing on schedule thing came about because of the motion that writing is a job and therefore must to treated as such. OMG. Yes being an author is a profession but there’s more to it than the assembly-line mentality of getting up, slamming some words out of your word processor and clocking out.

    Let’s face it, work is boring and writing shouldn’t be. There’s this thing called the writer’s muse you know, that time when all the creative juices are flowing. Wait for it. If it never arrives then (gosh I hate to say this but here goes) maybe you aren’t a writer.

    Yes, everyone learns to put words on paper early in life, but it’s the order in which they are written that makes a writer a writer. Sorry, but not everyone can play a concert piano or be a ballet dancer. Not everyone was given that gift.

    The worse part of NaNoWriMo is the bragging part. “Oh I feel so wonderful today. I banged out 1000 worthless words and I’m so happy now.” OMG, take up tennis or something.

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  5. Does staring out the window for five hours a day count as sticking to my writing schedule?

    There’s a lot to be said for just looking out a window.

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  6. Like all advice, it’s best taken with a grain of salt… Even writing schedules. As per NaNoWriMo… one day I want to attempt, but since I’m usually without a plot, not gonna happen anytime soon.

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  7. Yeah, I’m not someone who writes every day. A lotttt of people do flash fiction daily to keep on a schedule, but that’s just not me. It would be crap. I don’t have a 500 word story to tell every single day. And likewise, I only participate in nanowrimo when I have a full outline formed. I’m not interested in writing unless I have a story to tell.

    That being said, setting a minimum daily word count is beneficial to me once I actually start on a novel. Helps keep me on track. But we’re all different and there’s no problem with going schedule-less either.

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  8. I set a writing schedule for myself this week, actually. I failed. FAILED!
    My goal was to write eight pages.
    I have written no pages.
    There’s still tomorrow, but… meh. So, I know I will never participate in WriNoNaMo.
    However, I will make this claim: Forcing myself to write whilst feeling uninspired may inspire me to become inspired. So, who knows? Maybe I will do WriNoNaMo. Whatever. I’ll just need someone standing behind me with a bullwhip or an ice cream cone… maybe a puppy… a puppy with an ice cream cone. That might work.

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  9. I read your other post about NaNoWriMo as well, and what you say makes a lot of sense. Especially when you say that authors should not limit themselves to do most of their writing in July and November. I think that everyone has to find their own path. Whatever works for you it’s great. I’m trying NaNoWriMo for the first time this year because I’m curious to see how it goes. I think I have to give it a try before I can dismiss it, or adopt it as a way of life. I do not think, however, that by December 1st I’ll have a finished novel, but I quite enjoy the editing process, so I’m very hopeful. We’ll see

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  10. Wait—you didn’t get that writer’s handbook they passed out last year?

    Anyway, you’re definitely right in saying that no one method will work for all writers. Still, whether you churn out 50,000 words in a month or spend one week revising each chapter as you go, a novel can’t be properly edited until after the last chapter is written. That’s why NaNoWriMo is worth it to some folks—they may never finish a manuscript otherwise.

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  11. I love NaNoWriMo. This will make my seventh consecutive year writing. No, I do not write solely during the NaNo months.

    I am a big proponent of people doing what works for them. If a schedule isn’t right for you, then it isn’t right for you. But a great many people benefit from NaNo’s existence. It gives them, for lack of a better term, “butt in chair time” that forces them to focus only on writing. Some people will not start on their projects without support, which is also what the NaNo community is about.

    Yes, I think everyone writing a story and never doing anything with it is stupid. But I’ve always known that I’m supposed to be a writer, and I cherish the time that I get to spend with my local writing group. I’m no longer an outcast, but a member.

    Participating in NaNo taught me to keep writing when I didn’t feel like it. That was something I needed to learn, and it has helped me through many stories penned since that time period.

    NaNo is a season of celebrating writing and creativity, and that is one of the many reasons that I love it.

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  12. Thanks for liking my blog entry! Because it led me to this kick-ass blog.

    NaNoWriMo isn’t my cup of tea either. All my writer friends partook in this, so I felt like an outsider and gave it a try. I think I wrote one sentence and hated the pressure of having to ‘meet a word-count’ goal. I gave it another try a few years later. I closed my account a few days later.

    I dislike having a rigid schedule to follow. Also, by being word-count focused rather than story focused, I knew I’d end deleting much of what I write. When it comes to writing, I’m a firm believer of quality verses quantity. Well, this is a philosophy that works for me.

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  13. I agree with you, although I personally keep to a schedule (somewhat), everyone has their own style and their own way of working. And despite all the advice available, each writer has to discover what works best for them. I think it’s great the web is filled with all this writing advice. We can pick and choose what works for us, or try new approaches when something’s not working or we feel stuck.

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