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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Making A Plan

So it’s summer. I’ve been staying up late and sleeping in the next day. I have hours and hours of free-time, and I’m finding that I don’t use it as judiciously as I should. So I’ve made a plan for my writing. I encourage you to do the same.

1. As part of your plan, include a schedule. I’m a very scheduled person, so this works well for me. I also put my kids in several activities so they’d have something to do and stop whining at me. So as I sat down to write out my plan, I looked over my schedule. My mornings are taken up by two things: sleep and taxiing the kids to various activities.

No sweat.

I looked at my afternoons. The kids usually rest (ha ha ha ha!) or play at a friend’s house or watch a movie. Okay. This is my time. I scheduled my afternoon’s to write. Not surf the Internet.


Then I usually shower after that. I like to let all the words I’ve just penned ruminate in the hot water. Then I fix dinner, watch TV with the fam (or other family things) and by 9 PM I’m back at the computer.

2. As part of your plan, set a goal. If it’s to write a certain number of words each day, great. If that freaks you out (or causes severe depression if you don’t make it), set a timer and write for those 30 minutes or whatever.

The point of the goal is to keep yourself on track. I mean, with twitter and facebook and blogs and texting and this forum and that one and and and, it’s very easy to waste your writing time.

3. Decide what to write before you sit down. Many of us have multiple ideas/projects. Pick one. Work on that one. It’s easier to see yourself getting something done if you’re consistently working on one manuscript at a time.

Write your other ideas down, but don’t let the shininess of them steal the brilliance from your WiP.

If you find yourself floundering, hopefully making a plan will get you back on track. Do you have a plan? What is it? How do you fit writing into your regular life?? I’m going to d-i-e when school starts again.



Anne Gallagher said...

I cannot WAIT for school to start. 7 hours all to myself and my crazy little world. I try and do all my writing in morning. But blogging gets in the way. I've got to discipline myself. LOL.

Dr. Mohamed said...

I'm jealous of your restful days :)

Good plan for writing!

Anonymous said...

I found myself floundering too, since I've been off on medical leave. But now I've been trying to make use of this rare time at home and start early instead of sleeping late. I get the FB/blog/surfing thing over with during my coffee so it's out of my system for a little while, then try to write for a couple of hours. Then I can do other things without feeling guilty about it. LOL. Then if I write again later, it's extra and I can feel all giddy about it.

Now when I go back to work...ugh. I'm still in denial on that one.

Unknown said...

During the summer, it's so easy to play and waste time--days stretch out and seem to last forever! Easy-peasy to kill time on the internet then do some writing and some reading...

But once school starts and I'm back at work, I definitely need a writing schedule. No more sitting with my laptop in front of the TV, cause that's when I waste time (see what I'm doing right now? Yeah. Not writing.)

Great suggestions, Elana!

Unknown said...

Sleeping in would be awesome--but would require that my kids sleep in and they're not on board with that right now. I agree that it helps to have a schedule and work on one ms at a time. I've put myself on a revision schedule for my current ms, because I've been revising it forever and want it finished in 2 weeks. We'll see...

Summer Ross said...

This sounds like a good idea, I'm trying to figure out my own schedule in my head for writing time as I type this :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I am such a bad maker of plans and am in awe of people who are great organizers. I mean, girl, you put together WriteOnCon! I bow to you.
But I do write regularly, if slowly. At least there's that. :)

Dorothy Dreyer said...

I've been working all summer, so no sleeping in for me, unfortunately. However, I still make time after work to write. I've been very diligent on my current WIP, writing at least 1K a day during the week (the weekends are for family). I'm afraid this may change when school starts back up though because I'll have to help the kids with homework - which will most likely take away from my writing time. *growls*

Can't wait for WriteOnCon! You're awesome for organizing it!

Elana Johnson said...

Thanks, guys, for the comments about WriteOnCon. I'm freaking out a little over it. So keep your fingers crossed, okay? Okay.

Kristi, my kids are old enough to manage themselves for an extra hour for my sleep schedule. Thankfully.

And Dorothy, it's funny that when I'm working I struggle to write. I do most of it on the weekends (when working) and the opposite when I'm not. Just something interesting.

Anne, I know the vast majority of people can't wait for their kids to get back to school. For me, that just means I have to go too. Le sigh. Good thing I love it!

Susan said...

Really good, practical advice. Thanks so much. I took a college survival skills class this summer which was required and i thought was silly...but found very helpful for all these reasons. I can waste time so easily (like right now maybe??) - so this class talked about SMART goals and told us to keep track of how i used my time for a week and then find out where most of my time was going and what i was going to need to adjust in order to reach my goals. Having scheduled time and sticking to it or changing the schedule if it's not working - but then sticking to the new schedule - very helpful....and really vital (for me anyway). Thanks so much. So practical!

Eric W. Trant said...

Summer kills!

Your daily routine, that is. In the heat I become lethargic. My kids mope around inside because it's too freaking hot to go outside.

I sleep late. I horse around on the weekends, do a little yard work and back into the house.

There's something about the pressure of a forced routine -- school -- that allows me to focus. I'm goal-oriented, and a procrastinator. That means I need both a goal, and a timeline.

I guess you'd call that a plan. Maybe I'll make a plan in a couple of weeks, after we get back from our road trip.0

- Eric

Anonymous said...

Having both a full-time job and a high-maintenance family (they'll be the first to admit it) writing time has to be scheduled way in advance.

Sticking to the schedule can be tricky sometimes, and I find that even if I really work at it, I'm only able to write for half the time I tell myself I will.

Yet how pathetic would my writing time be if I didn't make that schedule? Yeah, pretty bad.

Stephanie, PQW said...

I've been wasting so much time. I could have used it to write, but I didn't. I've allowed myself to be distracted. This post is a nice bright light reminding me to get back to work and how to get myself started. Thanks.

Cynthia Schuerr said...

I love your plan, Elana! Thanks for sharing!

Jocelyn Rish said...

I waste so much time, it’s ridiculous. Afterwards, I’m so frustrated with myself I want to scream, but at the time I find it impossible to resist the siren call of whatever timewaster is singing to me. I really need to find a place with no internet access to write.

Najela said...

Do you have a plan? What is it? How do you fit writing into your regular life?? I wish I had a better plan, but I typically write when all my homework is done or alternate between doing homework/studying, surfing the net, and writing. I probably need something more concrete where I focus solely on just writing instead of trying to multitask.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great advice. I do let blogs suck up too much of my little writing time. I would so love to have weeks of free time in the summer like you. I definitely did not pick the right profession. Sigh.

Elana Johnson said...

Natalie, don't despair. We all pay our price. I probably make 1/3 of what you do.

Najela, I do like the multitasking. Everyone does that. But sometimes I just have to focus, you know?

Jocelyn, I know just what you mean. Sometimes I'm frustrated by how little I get done.

Stephanie, glad you liked it!

Donald, my hat's off to you! I don't know how you do that.

Eric, sure tease us with a road trip. Have a great time!

Susan, I know all about SMART goals. It's a teacher thing. I'm glad the class helped you. :)

Rebecca T. said...

I've found that simply making a to-do list every day of what I would like to accomplish helps me focus. Today was a blah day, but once in a while it's great to have those!

But a plan is most definitely in order most of the time :D

I always love your posts, Elana, even if I don't always get a chance to comment.

Random Sonshine Thoughts :D

Nayuleska said...

Picking one is a good thing to do. That way I get completely caught up in it. Although, I work quite well with writing two - especially when one is heavy going.