I had to redo my schedule. I forgot about holidays, about taking time off — and I also forgot to figure weekends — and the fact that I don’t write on them — into my schedule.
To hit my deadline date, I would have ended up trying to hit 2500 words a day, and I’m not there yet.
The image below, with 2113 words due today, is what I saw when I opened up Scrivener this morning.
And again, that didn’t figure in taking weekends off, so that I would be working toward an ever-increasing daily wordcount to hit the existing deadline.
So first I looked at the deadline. It was too soon.
I went into Scrivener and changed the software so it no longer figured weekends as writing days. They’re not — they’re regeneration, relaxation, re-filling-the-well days.
Then I set the software to give me as close to 1250 words per day, and discovered that it would require me to reset my deadline to Feb. 18, 2021.
So I did that.
And then I got 1260 words today, in spite of the fact that I’d had a bunch of days of and a hard time getting started.
I’ve discovered that if I can hit my wordcount even when things aren’t going well, the wordcount is pretty close to right.
And I like what I got today. Which also helps.
Since I have a full time job and kids, I squeeze writing in whenever I can. I find that I WANT to write every day, and that it works best for me not to have set days off. I would actually hate having to take a day off from writing every week!
But once in a while the feeling of fun starts to go away, and I try to pay attention to that and give myself a day off when that happens.
Yeah. For me, after having done testing on various ways of doing this since I was twenty-four (and now being sixty), I’ve found that different things work at different times. Right now, a regular five-day-on, two-day-off schedule is fantastic. But like every other thing I’ve done that worked…
… until it didn’t, this is subject to change. And when it changes, I’ll try things until something starts working, and work like that until I need to switch things up again.
I often hear Stephen King’s practice of writing every day, weekends and holidays included. Steven Pressfield says something that comes close to the same thing. In “Turning Pro” and “The War of Art,” he lists habits and qualities of a pro. Number one is, “The professional shows up every day.”
I understand the principle behind those positions, but I’ve always thought that time away — for re-creation — was vital. I’m guessing you agree, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on the issue. Maybe it could be a topic for a later blog post?
Yes. And yes.
Showing up for work everyday is essential to getting the work done.
And taking time off is essential to keeping yourself creative and fresh.
So, yes. You show up every work day.
If you’re smart and have a healthy sense of self-preservation, you remember that jobs in general are neither seven days a week nor twenty-four hours a day.
I set my schedule as five days a week, three hours of actual writing of FICTION a day, with a specific word count I’m working toward each day. Today’s Example Here My actual work day is a lot longer. But fiction is first, and it gets my biggest love, my deepest dedication, and my freshest brain.
All writers work differently. We all have different, homemade brains built by a lifetime of individual, unique experiences. We all experiment on what works with our own unique neural systems. We evaluate our results. We eliminate what doesn’t work (if we’re smart), and save what does.
At different points in my commercial career, especially when I had tight deadlines, I used the work-every-day method. I found that for me, it led to burnout, to not being able to write at all for long periods of time, and to misery. For Stephen King and for a significant period of his career, that process included raging alcoholism and some really shitty novels.
For some writers, it might be kittens and sunshine and a parade of cookies… but it wasn’t for me. It just turned something I loved into a source of pain.
If writing every day works for the writer and results in joy and happiness (most days) and the best-quality of work that writer is capable of creating, then that is the correct process for that writer.
If is doesn’t work for YOU (“you” being anyone reading this), you are not the problem. The process is the problem, and you need to reevaluate what you’re doing. Nurses and trash collectors and waitresses and moguls of vast enterprises, in general, get days off. In emergency situations, you work more, but jobs generally come with scheduled time off that acknowledges a biological truth — people need breaks from time to time in order to relax, recuperate, and do something different.
So I write on weekdays and take weekends off. I have found that, doing this, I still have fun showing up for work every morning. If work is every day, all the joy goes out of it for me.