Monday, November 16, 2009

Simplest Writing Trick Ever!

Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?

Sounds like a procrastinator's mantra, don't you think? Actually, it's my key to making my writing career a reality. At every crossroads in my stay-at-home-mom daily life, I ask myself a question. "Laundry or writing?" Writing wins. "Sweep or write?" Writing wins again. "Clean toilets or revise?" Um, hello!

Of course the needs of my children come first, and I am proud to say that they are all well fed and their hair is (ahem) usually combed. But every day it comes down to a choice, and I choose to write.

One of the best ways to make writing a reality is create an Ideal Schedule. Mine looks like this:

Write 8-4
Kidstuff 4-8
Read, critique, or movie w/hubby 8-11

Volunteer 9-12
Errands 12-4
Kidstuff 4-8
Read, critique, or movie w/hubby 8-11

Home Improvement projects on house

Relax and read

This schedule is highly idealized, but most days I manage to at least follow it loosely. The past few weeks have been an exception because I've been going like gang-busters on revisions. (Yep, the house is in a near-constant state of disarray.) But now that my revisions are done, I'll be settling into my old routine.

What about you? What mental tricks help you turn to writing? What kind of schedule (or lack thereof!) do you follow?


Unknown said...

I love your ideal schedule - when my kids are old enough to be in school, I'm doing that schedule. I write every night (well, right now I'm revising every night) after the kids are asleep. It's usually only an hour or two before I become comatose myself but I finished my YA ms in about 6 weeks and am now on the 4th revision, so this schedule seems to be working. I can't wait until I can write all day though - I'm so jealous!

Oh, and I trick myself w/ candy as I love chocolate. One piece after every revision - or after every completed chapter when I'm writing. Once I begin the query process, I'll give myself one piece for every query I send out - hopefully, running around after the kids will prevent significant weight gain :)

Carolyn V. said...

I love your schedule! I have a hard time writing unless it is planned out. There just always seems to be something that needs to be done. I have to remember that some of those things can wait.

Bethany Wiggins said...

Suzette, you have my dream schedule! Maybe one day I'll be able to do that (like in seven years when all of my little ones are in school!).

For now, I keep up with everything--kids, house, cooking, cleaning, husband, cub scouts, soccer, commenting on blogs--between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. After that (my kids have an early bed time, I know!) I allow myself a little quiet time with the husband, and the I spend two hours writing. It works well enough. Some days better than others. And it is a schedule my family can live with, which is my number one priority!

jenheadjen said...

I have absolutely no writing schedule, except for the hour before I go to bed where I either read or write. (At this point, I'm usually so beat that reading wins out!) Your schedule is inspiring!

Angie said...

Yep. It all comes down to choices. I choose to write too, and well, you've seen my house. I have to decide what's most important, but I'm still guilty of wasting time sometimes. Love you!

Liza said...

Yup, I was lucky my position was eliminated now that my daughter is a teen. I write from about 7-3 every day, except Monday morning when I volunteer. I save the weekends for the house stuff. It will work until I have to earn some $ again.

kah said...

I'm awful at schedules, but I envy yours. Looks like a good one. I'd try to create a schedule for myself but I know I'd never follow it.

Corey Schwartz said...

Ha! That's always been my motto! My hubby doesn't like it :)

Suzette Saxton said...

True, the hubbies tend to not like the schedule, but oh well. Pursuing dreams is the one thing that should not be put on the back burner, or it never will happen.

Chocolate is always a good incentive! Yum!

And you know, Karen, I am not a schedule follower in the least - in fact I usually rebel against them. That's why I call this my "ideal" schedule. It's my idea of a perfect day... which removes all pressure to achieve it. Instead I aspire toward it, and it feels good! Even indulgent. :)

Thanks to you all for sharing your thoughts.


Michelle McLean said...

lol Love the picture :D I had a schedule at one point in time....lost it somewhere :D But I'm hoping to have one again soon. Kindergarten in PA is full time, which means come Sept, I'll have my days kid free :D I predict a few days (or weeks, who am I kidding?) of laying around blissfully staring at my walls in absolute peace and silence....and then I'll implement my schedule again :D

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I have a schedule, but sticking to it is often difficult. I'm working out at the gym a couple hours a day, taking a nap and then trying to write. I forget to eat or cook when I get on a roll. My daughter (13) understands, my hubby not so much.

Pamela said...

There are certain things I have to stick to, including 40 hours a week of work and 9 hours a week of grad classes. There is also the travel time to be considered for both of these. Beyond that, it is somewhat fair game. Writing gets done when I have the time. Sometimes I have to steal writing time from other things. But, it's always worth it in the end and it all works out.


Tabitha Bird said...

I write everyday from 12-2pm when my son sleeps. Sometimes I write at night too. And Fridays I write all day. Children are off to school and childcare respectively. :)

Stina said...

Great Post, Suzette! My writing schedule is 5-7 am, 12-4 pm, and 8-10 pm on weekdays. I also get in 10-14 hours on the weekend, too. I just don't sleep much. My husband has been very supportive about my writing. And fortunately I've been able to do more housework than I did before, now that the youngest is in kindegarten. Next week, I'm scrubbing the kitchen cabinets. I've also been able to volunteer this year at the kids schools. And the best part is I'm going to do some sessions soon with my 2nd and 4th graders' classes about writing and the publishing industry. I'm excited about that.

Brandon Barr said...

I want your schedule!! :)

I try and write Monday and Wednesday mornings. And sometimes on Saturday and Sunday at various times. But it rarely goes as planned.


*bows head in shame, and then continues to bow, all the way down to your feet.

Wow, um ... my schedule is something like this:

8-5: work. daydream at desk. work.
5:30-10:30: dinner w/hubby, tv w/hubby, blogtime, email time, take dog out on a walk time.
11-until I pass out: write.

sleep until 10 (when possible)
10-12: call my sister. spend at least an hour talking about something random. like shoes. or new moon. goof off online. eat brunch.
12 on: volunteer, dinner w/friends, movies, etc. Write, if I'm home and in bed before 12.

Lesson learned: The reason I haven't been writing as much as I should is b/c, ahem, I'm not making time for writing. I should work on that.

Suzette Saxton said...

No shame, Jess. It's an "ideal" schedule, not a realistic one. I think it works for me because it gives me permission to write. And your life sounds like fun!

I know I'm very lucky to be able to stay home. My husband and I have sacrificed a lot to make it happen. And, um, I do spend about an hour per day on the phone with my sister. And lots of time homeschooling my 4yo as I write. That's just life, and it's okay.

Next year my youngest will be in school. I wonder how it will feel to have 3hrs of uninterrupted writing time?!?

Vegas Linda Lou said...

No matter how good my intentions are, all is takes is something like a Michael J. Fox E! True Hollywood Story to bring everything to a screeching halt.

cleemckenzie said...

I try for a schedule. Really I do,but man is that one illusive critter. My schedule now is whatever happens at the moment. I've become Zen without even trying. The funny thing is I'm actually writing more and enjoying the time I find to do it. Whatever works, right?

Diana Paz said...

I need to print up that schedule and stick it on my fridge. My hubby should be informed of the upcoming changes in the lifestyle to which he's become accustomed, ha!

Wow, I need to share the word verification. It made me think of a promiscuous elf. Impho

Elana Johnson said...

Great schedule! I am so scheduled, it's not even funny.

I work so I don't have "free" time until 3 PM. Then I have one hour to read forums, facebook, blogs, or crit.

Then family stuff until about 8 or 9. Then I do all my writing stuff. Sleep is overrated. ;)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Great site - LOVE your background!

Thanks for dropping by Book
Dreaming - it's so great to make new friends! :)

Kathy McIntosh said...

Your schedule's great and your commitment to your writing and your family, impressive.
I work at home and have raised my daughter, but still find that errands and life keep sticking their noses in my schedule (which actually sounds gross!).
But I'm thankful.

Suzette Saxton said...

I think the trick for me is trying to get all my errands done on Friday. Committing to stay home the other four days works, though I do a karate drop-off every evening.

But truly, the trick is finding out what works for you.

Unknown said...

Love your schedule! I wish it would work for me, but right now, my day is divided into little chunks of time pre-determined by the Pea's nap schedule. He still takes two, so right now, I like to get house chores done during his first nap and focus on writing during his second.

Of course, this will all change when he decides to stop napping in the morning any day now.

Anonymous said...

Looks like you've worked out a well rounded schedule. Your blog is beautiful! Thanks for visiting mine and joining my circle of friends :)

* said...

Great scheduling madness! I see the rhyme & reason to your schedule & must say, I'm a tad jealous! :) In a good, writerly way...

M-F, 8:30pm-3:30pm: I have a 2 yr old still at home, so I write in between getting him snacks, zooming wooden trains around a track and then plugging him into the TV and trying not to feel too guilty "working" (eg: writing) in the back room.

Then, 3:30-8pm is full-on kid time. Our other 3 kids are home from school & we're dashing, eating, reading, piano playing.

Then, 8pm-11pm or as late as I can take it, I write again, hang out w/my husband, and squeeze in my church calling, house cleaning, etc.

Like Natalie Goldberg once said, no one set schedule ever worked for her. It was always fluid, moving. I feel that way, too. Sometimes I write best in the mornings. Other times, it's late at night or in the early afternoon.

Great post!!

Conda Douglas said...

Good post. Having a plan and following it, even if loosely, works for me, too.

Editor said...

Having a schedule works for all aspects of life, not just writing.

Of course, life will disrupt any schedule imposed on it, but if we don't get hung up on those disruptions, with a schedule we get a lot more accomplished.

Like writing, and exercising....

Fahim said...

haha I'm a college student and I dread writing. I hope I feel the same way you do about writing someday :)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Great schedule!!! I work full time and still have 2 teens in the house, so writing time is limited. I am a MAJOR procrastinator, especially when it comes to editing. I think I'm afraid of messing it up worse than it already is! lol Nice blog, btw!