FRIDAY NOTES & NEWS: Set a Summer Writing Schedule

CommuterLit editor & publisher

LOOKING TO finish a draft this summer, but can’t get stuck in? While there’s no magic formula, here’s what I’ve found works best for me:

Work with not against yourself
1. Figure out which hours of the day are your most productive writing hours. Some people are night owls and some are early birds. Schedule your writing sessions for when you are at your best — even if that is 3 o’clock in the morning.

2. Similarly, figure out how long you can sit and write without getting squirrelly or distracted (or whether you can sit at all) and what writing tools are easiest for you to use. I use a laptop to write my drafts (though I do have hand-written notes all over the place). But I find I can only sit down and write in 20-minute increments. After that, I have to get up and pace for 10 minutes — then I sit and write for another 20 minutes, before getting up once again. Some people will prefer to dictate their drafts, recording their voices with their cell phones, while walking in the park. Some may prefer pen and paper while lying on a chaise-lounge, eating chocolate truffles. There is no right or wrong way to write. Do not fight your nature — just go with it.

3. If you can sit to write, carve out a permanent space — a den, a home office, the back porch, a nook, a coffee shop or library table — for you to write in. Mine, has a door that I can close and hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on.

4. Set a schedule — I write from 9 am to noon five days a week — and stick to that schedule. But be realistic with your time constraints and life commitments. If afternoons are for the kids, so be it. If you don’t want to work on the weekend, then don’t. If you want to take a two-week vacation, do so. Do not feel guilty.

5. Stay in your writing space for the entire scheduled time — even if you only manage to write five words during the session. It helps you get into the proper headspace to dream, to imagine, to think, to analyze, to edit, to research and ultimately to write.

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