header('Cache-Control: max-age=259200'); A Writing Schedule That Works (for Me) - Kristen Koster
Feb 012013
My Writing Schedule Spreadsheet

My current writing schedule spreadsheet. I clipped my notes off on the right side. Gray boxes equal planned non-writing days and the ones with the dots masking the day mean I know I’ll have multiple interruptions. The numbers counting down in the purple column are working days left until my deadline. Click on the image to enlarge.

This week my accountability group’s How I Write series asks, “Do you have a writing schedule? How do you get stuff done?”

In many ways, I’m fortunate to be a stay at home mom. My biggest time suck is that I run taxi service for my kids back and forth to school. Thankfully this year they’re back in the same school and I don’t have to do the morning run twice, an hour apart. So this leaves me a huge block of time from about 7:30 am until 2:15 pm as my time. I do have some regular scheduled interruptions, the dog always seems to want to go out and there’s always something cropping up — it happens when you have two kids with different chronic health issues — hey, it happens when you don’t too!

That block of time is what I generally have reserved on my writing schedule during the week. There are times when I also need to work in the afternoons or evenings, but those should be the exception during the week. On weekends, I usually get up before everyone else and use that time on Saturdays for writing. Sundays are usually my free day.

I have a DayRunner planner that I jokingly call “My Brain”. I’m horrible about remembering stuff if I don’t write it down. However, I’ve also discovered that its calendar format isn’t flexible enough for me and I forget to check the book all the time. I noticed that the calendar sheets in it dated from 2007. Oops! I had been keeping my todo list in my weekly goals post on our group’s forum, which made looking ahead difficult. So my day runner is now a glorified checkbook and outdated address book holder.

This year, I decided I wanted to try something different. I know I’ll eventually want to juggle multiple projects so I wanted to try an ACT ASK IF exercise. I took an Excel spreadsheet and ran a column of dates for 2013 and another for week of the year broken up into 13 week sections. Then I have a set of columns for Drafting that includes word count information, a blog schedule, a set of columns for Revising — this quarter is focusing on devising my Revision plan that I talked about last week, and a set of columns for Brainstorming. I’ve also been tracking things like weekly word count, major distractions or scheduled appointments to work around.

I think one of the biggest things that this format let me see that a normal calendar system doesn’t is large chunks of time at once. I can look at the whole quarter and instantly see the blocks of grey which note planned off days and school vacations.

It also lets me see what impacts my daily routines and if I have set up a writing schedule that works for me.I was really worried looking back at the 2nd week, when I had 4 zeros and 2 days with less than 100 words written. This was the result of burnout from being excited and writing 900 words the week before when I hadn’t written that many new words in the previous month or so.

I’m sure this schedule will continue evolving as I determine realistic time frames and settle into my process for revisions. I like how I can look across the day’s line and see what needs to be done, but also as I’m writing up my Weekly Goals post on Sunday, I can easily see what’s coming up in the next week and beyond.

This is working really well in conjunction with Milestone Planner that my accountability group is using so we can see each other’s upcoming deadlines more easily.

YOUR TURN: Do you schedule time for your creative pursuits? Is it working for you?

And if you’d like to check out the rest of my accountability group, you can find their blogs here:

* Alexia Reed * Kimberly Farris * Danie Ford * Emma G. Delaney * Susan Saxx

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