27 July 2008

Watching the Clock: When to Ignore Your Writing Schedule

I have a writing schedule for my freelance writing career, and I have tried to stick to that schedule to help myself think of my writing as a business instead of as a hobby, as well as being able to balance my home life from my work-at-home life. I've even taken to writing "CSW is open" on my white board while I'm working, and writing "CSW is closed" on my white board once I've quit working for the day. That way, Hubby knows when I'm working and when I'm not, so he knows if he can get attention, or if his asking "Are you hungry?" (to let me know he's hungry) will be met with a paper ball to the head.

I've been trying very hard to stick to my schedule, but I've learned that schedule isn't always the important thing, and yes, there are times when the clock shouldn't dictate your writing.

When you're on a roll with a piece, you should keep writing and get that extra work done. Obviously, if you're writing and on a roll you're being productive. It wouldn't make sense to interrupt that productivity just because the time you've set aside for writing has ended. I don't know about you, but if I'm writing productively and stop in the middle of it, I spend half my writing time the next day trying to remember where I was going with what I was doing, wasting precious writing time the next day. If I keep writing, I can finish my thought process, and then stop at a more natural place so when I pick up the writing again later or the next day, I'm better able to get into the writing quickly from the natural stopping place.

Not only that, I've had days when I feel completely stuck and can't write, and it would be even more frustrating to be stuck when I know only the night before I stopped myself from writing!

When you're on a deadline and writing an extra couple of hours means the difference between making the deadline and asking for an extension, keep writing. I set deadlines for myself frequently to keep myself on track, and if I've let myself get behind a little bit, I sometimes have to write a bit longer to get caught back up so I can stick to my deadline. Freelance writers not only have their own deadlines, but the deadlines of their clients as well. I'm working on a project right now that's on a particularly tight deadline, so I've kind of thrown my schedule out for a bit so I can be sure to get this project finished by deadline.

When I started writing to a stricter schedule, I did so to make sure I didn't short-change myself by spending half my day "researching" by posting on writers' forums. Since then, my writing schedule has been helpful to make sure I didn't spend every waking hour writing at the expense of my family life. But I've also learned that there are times to look away from the clock and just keep writing.

In his book Getting Started as a Freelance Writer, highly successful freelance writer Bob Bly draws the comparison between writing and dentistry. An old saying by dentists is "If you're not drillin', you're not billin'," which reminds us that in order to get money from writing, you must be writing. So even if you have your schedule, don't be afraid to write a little longer. After all, that little longer now is money in your pocket later!

Happy scribbling!

1 comment:

  1. Love your blog! Caffeine!!!!

    Anyway, I'm totally going to steal your whiteboard idea so my family can avoid the paper ball in the face result they get when they unwittingly crash my train of thought.

    Plus, it'll serve as a reminder to me when the shop is "closed" that it's really closed.

    I'm going to link to your post in the next few days from my blog - it's a post many of my Working Writer Happy Writer readers should see, too. Thanks!


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