Can't Keep Up? Streamline Your Writing Time

You have this grand idea, this story, this thing living inside you (not an alien), yet you aren't getting it out of you the way you envision.  

You can't stop thinking about it.  So, why isn't it coming to fruition?

 

What's missing?

 

A schedule.

 

 

Now, before you roll your eyes and throw your pen at your screen, hear me out.

 

Yes, a schedule is what you're missing.

 

But, but, but Rochelle!  A schedule doesn't work for me!

 

Okay, dearie, we'll talk about it.  Just give me a second and I need you to put your big-kid undies on.

 

I understand, I really do.  I'm one of those people that take on way more than they can actually do all at once.  I love it.  And then I crash and burn.  I'll map out this dream-world schedule and then never look at it again.  That's lame.  Here's what I've figured out since then.

 

Why it's important

You do know why it's good for you, right?

 

If I want to write a great novel, or a great blog post, or a great book about marsupials then won't I need just the tools, the know-how, and the desire?  You do need those.  But if you're just trying to do it all when you're struck with inspiration or have a bit of time in your busy day, then you won't write consistently, and you won't be where you want to be in a month or a year's time.  Then you'll scowl at yourself and throw a tantrum like my children sometimes do (not pretty) and no one will be happy.  Not you, not me, and not anyone near you when this tantrum is taking place.  Then you'll regress into this cycle of self-loathing and resentment.  But I have a cure for that!

 

There's my son, right about to go into a full-blown tantrum. Take cover!

 

 

[Tweet "Scheduling writing time prevents tantrums."]

 

But schedules are so rigid and unfeeling

That's very true.  If you are a fly-by-your-pants type of person then you may find schedules to be too binding.  I tend to be that way.

 

You've probably heard of routines.

 

They are lovely.  I do these in many aspects of my life.  For working, cleaning, home schooling, writing, and any other obligation I have.

 

What's the difference?

 

A schedule looks like this:

7 am: Wake

7:15 - shower and get ready

8 - breakfast

8:30 - leave for work

etc.

 

A routine looks like this:

  • Wake up
  • shower, get ready
  • breakfast
  • chores

 

You can do most of these out of order (except you have to wake up first).  You just have blocks of time that you need to accomplish these items, or they could be just do it sometime today.

 

Pick whichever one works best for you.

 

I am a hybrid.  I need a schedule for certain things and a routine for the rest.  The things I really don't want to do I have to put into a routine or I'll never do them.  Like cleaning.  Ugh, I hate cleaning. If I say I have to do wash the dishes and sweep the floor and start a load of laundry right after breakfast I'll punch someone in the throat then I won't clean until someone is coming over next month.  If I say, you have these to do as your morning routine then I can do that because it feels less like my mom is forcing me and more like a choice.

 

A hybrid would look like this:

7:30 - wake up

Morning Routine

10:30 - calls to Jones and Montoya

11:15 - email Martin and Johns

12 - lunch

Afternoon Routine

5:30 - make dinner

6 - eat dinner

6:30 - clean up dinner

7 - family time

Evening Routine

 

You list out the items that would be in each routine block.   Or you could have one routine for the whole day and then just do those as you go.

 

I have fiddled with my writing schedule/routine and think I have what I like.  I am still tweaking it a bit here and there.

 

[Tweet "Schedule or Routine? Which do you prefer?"]

 

 Time of day

Now you need to pick the best time of day for writing.

 

clock

 

When do you have a moment to yourself?  Never!?  Well, you'll need to make one then.  Can you wake up earlier?  I can't, so this is a no-go for me.  This would be a quick trip to failure land.  Have time free at lunch?  In the afternoon?  After everyone is in bed?  Hey!  Right after dinner you could take off and write and let everyone else clean up the mess!  Yes!  Perfect.

[Tweet "When is your favorite time of day to write?"]

 

How long?

Well, how long are you going to write for?  5 minutes, 10, an hour, two hours?  Make it realistic and attainable.  If you're swamped every day then don't put in a 3 hour block.  Perhaps you have a really long Tuesday, but your Monday and Wednesday is more open.  Schedule 3o minutes on Tuesday and then 1 - 2 hours for your Monday and Wednesday.

 

You need to schedule some time every day, no matter what.  But you don't have to set yourself up to fail with something that's never going to happen.

 

If you're a word count kind of person, then set a word count goal for each writing session.  Again, tailor it towards your time available.

 

One or chunks?

No, I'm not talking about tossing your cookies.  That's no fun.

 

Would it better if you schedule one writing time per day or a few different times throughout the day?

 

Now, I know I just said you need to schedule time every day, and I do think that's true, but I have heard of some people that schedule marathon sessions over the weekend instead of shorter sprints throughout the week.  That's what works for them.

 

schedule combo

Here's my schedule/routine.  My green blocks of time are when I am transcribing live University classes which means that is a set schedule. Mealtime is scheduled but can be flexible, depending on my children's appetite that day.  My blocks of Home Schooling are a set time, but it is a routine and not an exact scheduled out block of time.  Sometimes that block might be science and history, sometimes art and math.  Just depends on what we're doing that day. I have times dedicated to blogging and writing, but when I have a moment otherwise I'll either be napping or fitting in more writing time.

 

The orange blocks say Blog, but that also includes Writing. I think this schedule that I took a screen shot of just didn't have the blocks filled in with writing and I'm too lazy to go back and screenshot a different day with the correct heading in the orange blocks.  I see the color orange and know that means to get out my laptop, notebook, and pen and get to work.

 

What's clear to me is that I need to give something up to make way for a little more free time!

 

In the end

 

You need to find out what works best for you.  Don't do what I'm doing or what Speedy Gonzales  is doing, or Betty Boop is doing.  Do what works for you and your lifestyle.  If you don't it'll never work for you, no matter how color-coded and pretty you make it look.

 

What kind of schedule or routine do you use?  When is your favorite time of day to write?

 

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How to Take Charge of Your Self-Doubt Part 3

This is Part 3 in a 3-part series.  Here is Part 1 and Part 2

 

Source: Amy Wilblanks http://www.flickr.com/photos/arazas/

 

Self-doubt does not need to come between us and our dreams.

 

We can take back control over our fears and doubt.

 

In Part 1 you figured out where your self-doubt was stemming from.  In Part 2 you learned how to differentiate between a thought and a feeling and why that's important.

 

[Tweet "Laughter is poison to fear. ~ George R.R. Martin"]

 

Now we'll finish it up with some of the best tools.

 

Act as though you already are

 

What is your dream?  Okay, that's great!  Now you act as though that already is true.  Let's try one together.  I want to be a best-selling author (It's true, I do).  What does a best-selling author do?  Besides sign books?  Ha!

They write.

They read.

They promote.

They blog.

They are involved in their community.

They are involved in many online communities.

They help others.

What else am I missing?

 

I could break that down even further to really get into the nitty gritty.  I could look at what some of my favorite authors do and emulate them.  I won't go walking around offering to sign books (after all I wouldn't be signing mine just yet), but I will walk around telling myself and others that I am a writer, an author. I will tell myself that my writing is best-selling-book-grade writing.  What!

 

You want to be a painter?  Bam! You are.  You want to be a coach?  Bam! You are.  A proctologist?  Bam!  An esthetician?  Bam!  Of course, don't go operating on people if you haven't graduated yet.  You may have several steps to go to actually get there, but you tell yourself you're there and you'll start to believe it.

 

 

Source: Symphony of Love http://www.flickr.com/photos/pictoquotes/

 

 

The mind is a funny thing.  As a kid I would tell some made up story so much that over time I actually believed it was true.  Some of my childhood memories I don't even know if they ever happened.  I could have easily passed a lie detector test in the midst of an outlandish lie (I told some doozies -- I'll save that humiliation for another post) easily because I believed what I was saying.

 

Don't lie to yourself, but tell yourself you are that someone that you want to be often enough and you'll believe  (clap your hands if you believe in fairies).

 

Wait!

Did you see that heading up there?  It said act as though you are, not just say that you are.  That's a big difference.  Our actions and in-actions, our choices, are what shape our lives.  If we want a full, rich, meaningful life, we need to make choices and then follow them up with the actual doing part.

 

choices

 

The 3 tools of fear

 

tools of fear

 

1.  Discouragement

Something happens to us, or doesn't happen, and we're discouraged.  Maybe we didn't get as many page views or comments on our blog as we were hoping for.  Maybe we got a bad review, or someone unsubscribed.  An opportunity didn't work out. Or maybe someone did the same thing as you, but they succeeded when you didn't.

 

Talk about lame.  That hurts.  You try and you skin your knees.

 

Source: Massdistraction http://www.flickr.com/photos/sharynmorrow/

 

2.  Doubt

That's what this is all about: self-doubt.  You are discouraged and then you begin to doubt yourself, doubt your abilities, others, or even God (or whatever higher power you believe in). It's gone from "gosh, it didn't work out" to "it's just not possible."

 

This is even worse.  You don't think you'll be successful.  You don't think you can actually write, blog, paint, dance, coach, teach, operate, etc.

 

 

3.  Despair

This is the lowest level.  You say to yourself,  I'll never be able to do anything good.  I'll never amount to anything.  No one loves me, no one cares about me, I don't deserve to be loved or happy.  I'm a total screw up.  Nothing I want to do works out and nothing ever will.

 

This is heartbreaking.  This isn't where you want to be.  You'll never be able to do anything that brings you joy if you are in this stage beating yourself up.  No one deserves to be told this.  Ever.  Even those poor people that try out for some reality competition show that really can't dance or sing or whatever.  They may not be great at those things, but they are great at something.  Everyone is great at something.

 

Source: Mourner http://www.flickr.com/photos/mourner/

 

What do you do when you find yourself in any of these stages?  What do you do when you feel stuck?

 

The 3 tools of confidence

 

1.  Hope and Trust.

 

hope quote

 

Have hope in yourself and your abilities.

 

Have hope in others.

 

Your family, your friends, and other people out there in the world sincerely want to help you, guide you, and teach you.  They are there!  Since blogging I have found so many people out in the blogging community that truly care about helping me to succeed and to grow.  I am blown away by their sincerity and their advice.  There are others that you know that care about you.

 

Most of all, trust yourself.  Have faith and hope in your abilities.  Go back to your Part 1 exercises or start over again.  What are you thinking and feeling (part 2)?  Let's replace the negative thoughts and feelings with something a lot more realistic, logical, helpful, positive, and true.

 

thought progression

 

2.  Service.

Most of the time when we are stuck in a vortex of negative thinking it's because we are thinking of only ourselves.  We're on Me Planet. Captain You Planet (you can watch the whole video, it's hilarious, but the Cpt You Planet part starts at 3:53).

 

The best way to stop thinking about ourselves is to think about others.

 

Is there a charity that means a lot to you?  Is there a charity in your community that needs help, even if you don't know anything about it?

 

Is there someone - a family member, friend, neighbor, or stranger - that needs help?  It doesn't have to be major.  In fact, it's those little somethings that bring the biggest smiles.

 

Someone just had surgery or a baby?  Bring them a meal.  Someone just lost their pet? What could you do for them?  A stranger needs help jump starting their car, or a friendly or encouraging smile.  A friend needs a break from her kids, or needs help organizing her closet, or folding her laundry.  Maybe your brother needs a night out.  Maybe his job is stressing him out.

 

Source: Rosie O'Breine http://www.flickr.com/photos/rosieobeirne/

 

The more we think of ways to help others the better you'll feel.  Weird isn't it?  You help others with their issues and the joy you feel gets deep inside your heart and sets roots.  You will feel encouraged and lightened, even if you weren't directly working on your problem.  You never know, maybe someone you help can in turn help you in other ways.

 

We need to get out of our way and realize that the world doesn't revolve around us.  This world is a community.  We each do better by helping others do better.

 

3.  Meditation.

I'm not saying you should sit on the ground, ankles crossed, fingers pinched and say "omm" over and over again.  You can if you want to though!  Take time every day.  In the morning, in the afternoon, at the close of your day.  Take some time to just sit and think. Or not think.

 

Photo source: Moyan Brenn http://www.flickr.com/photos/aigle_dore/ Quote addition: Me!

 

Just be still and quiet and at peace for a time.  If you are going to think, think of positive action oriented things.  Think of the good in your life, think of the positive steps you're taking.  Celebrate your successes.  Brainstorm ways you could tweak something you've been working on.  Give yourself a break.  Do you need help? Where could you go to get help?  Who could you go to?  If you are religious, say a prayer from the heart.

 

{Tweet "Courage is fear that has said its prayers. ~ Dorothy Bernard"]

 

easelly_visual

 

Gratitude

Be grateful for what you have, no matter how small.  Just like the song from White Christmas, count your blessings.

 

The place you live in, your comfy bed, your food, your job, your ability to read, your freedom, the mountains, the sun, the stars, your favorite candy, water, toothpaste, and on and on and on.

 

[Tweet "When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears. ~ Anthony Robbins"]

 

Here's another challenge for you: keep a gratitude journal.   I kept a gratitude journal a few years back when I was having a hard time and it changed my outlook within days.  I listed the big to the mundane.  I thought of everything I could in one sitting each day.  Even if it takes a while to get rolling  just write until either your hand or your brain is dead.  Keep a gratitude journal for at least one week, that's 7 days folks!  That's not too rough.

 

In the end...

 

I have really enjoyed writing this series and I hope that it has helped you.  We do not have to let self-doubt keep us from living and being happy.  You ought to be confident and hopeful.  You have so much to offer.  Self-doubt can come and go in cycles.  You may be feeling great now (yay), but then for whatever reason hit a slump.  That's okay.  Stand up, read these posts again, and get back to work.  If you need me, I'm here!

 

Source: Always Thirteen http://www.flickr.com/photos/dlba13/

 

Your Turn

 

What things have you done that have helped you let go of your self-doubt?  Let us know some new strategies in the comments.  Also, I'd love to hear your thoughts on these latest steps.

 

[Tweet "Take charge of your self-doubt now!"]