In an email, Cheryl mentioned her writing schedule, and pointed out that she keeps it flexible. I asked her to tell us more about it.
My writing routine typically works out that I am at the computer for a couple hours on Thursdays, hopefully an hour or so on Saturdays, and a few hours on Sundays. I spend several hours twice a week traveling and bouncing between airports. Couple this with long work days when I’m on the road and I do not sit down to write. Being out of town much of the week, my weekends are busy catching up with things around the house, doing errands, and prepping to fly out again on Monday.
Thursdays I have a long layover between flights, and oddly enough I can completely tune out the airport paging cacophony and concentrate on writing. Saturdays are a hopeful day of writing depending on how much I need to do around the house on the weekend. Often I do get to write on Saturdays. By Sunday my catch up is complete, and I can sit down for a nice block of time at the keyboard.
Despite this mess of a schedule, it works for me, and I do get time to write. I set tough goals for myself because they push me in a good way. I enjoy competition and love a challenge, so I am my biggest competitor and cheerleader. I prefer to put my projects on a tight timeline. I know what I have to do to make my self-imposed deadlines, and I will do my best to meet them. My routine may seem slack in my devotion to writing, but with the hours of time I put toward writing on top of the hours I put in for work and travel, trust me, I am not slacking off.
The additional flexibility I work into my writing routine is that I give myself permission to live life. I don’t beat myself up if something goes awry and I lose writing time. I will not always have the perfect day of writing. I will not always have a perfect schedule. When, not if, things arise such as a needed home repair, digging out of a snow storm, or taking the dogs to the vet for a checkup, I will address them.
The days I don’t sit down to write, the stories are in my head, and I’m thinking about them. I’m working out scene details, story arcs, character development, or thinking up completely new tales. When I do get time at the keyboard, often I am able to rapidly get it on paper since I have already worked out the complete scene in my head. If writing gets shifted to another time slot or another day, fine. It’s not the end of the world. This does not mean that writing is always a second priority. I often rearrange my schedule to put some errands or appointments off so I can keep my writing time intact, or even better, extend my writing time.