How do you stick to your schedule?

Sticking to a schedule is one of the things I most respect in a web author, and one of the things I'm worst about. Tapestry is, as of this writing, approximately nine months behind where I would like it to be. I don't even pretend to have a schedule for it aside from 'when I can find the time' but I'd really, really like one.

So I come to y'all, to ask how you do it. How do you find the time for one update a week, three updates a week, an update a day, or however much you do update? How did you decide on your schedule to start with? What do you do when life throws you a curve ball and you get behind?

I'm the last person who should be responding to this (as you may have noticed), but I do at least try to stay on a schedule. With a few exceptions I actually do manage to put out two updates a week.

The days are kind of inconsistent. It's supposed to be Tuesday and Friday, but generally turns out to be either late Tuesday and Friday or sometimes Wednesday and Saturday.

So far my only technique seems to be "write when you're not doing anything else." If you haven't finished your update when the assigned day rolls around, write until it's finished.

The simplicity of this system probably explains why doesn't work.

Actually, the other reason it doesn't work (though it used to) is that the average update used to be about 700 words, but the current size seems to be closer to 1000 (and I still allot myself the same amount of time to get it done).

I'd probably be right on schedule if I cut things off at 700 again.

I've found I need about a day of "planning" before writing. Basically, I need time to figure out where the characters are and how they will react to the events in the previous episode(s). So, I try to think about stuff during the day on Saturday, then start writing Sunday late morning over brunch. Usually, I get it about half-done, then leave the rest to finish Sunday night for a Monday update. WR is best written at night. :-)

When I don't actually fit in the thinking on Saturday, that's when my update tends to slip to late Monday or sometime Tuesday. So far, though, since starting back this year, I think I've only missed one week, and that was the week of the WFG upgrade.


I set one to two hours to work on writing every weekday and give myself weekends off (unless the mo I made a point to wod strikes). I have a set time on Tuesdays/Fridays to update by.

The theory: a mediocre update is better than no update, so I force myself to put something up all the time, even if that something is less-than-stellar. It also helps that my updates are fairly short.

Umm, I guess life throws me fairly continual curve balls! *lol* I have a toddler, a full-time job, and heart problems that make me ridiculously tired most of the time. So I've had to be very strategic.

I almost always (these days) have a buffer of a month's posts - occasionally more. My 'bad' periods rarely last more than a couple of weeks, so if I don't get any writing done for a couple of weeks, it's not the end of the world. I just have to get extra written in the couple of weeks afterwards to allow for that.

I think it takes a while to work out what we're really capable of, instead of what we'd LIKE to be capable of, as far as output goes. But in my experience, it's better to be a little pessimistic and finish up with that extra buffer of work than to be too optimistic and finish up with too little.

My rules are:

- go easy on myself

- a short update's better than none

- write when I can

- don't stress (because if I start stressing, inspiration goes bye-bye)

I guess I should point out, though, that I've been 'writing' (IT heavy-duty manuals) as a paid job for over 5 years now... so I've learnt a fair bit of discipline. If I have the energy and sit down to write, I'll get _something_ out, barring interruptions.

I'm horrible about keeping my schedule (Children of the First is currently on hiatus), mostly because I can only work at night and it takes me at LEAST one full night to write a chapter. There are exceptions, however, like when I wrote two chapters one night last week. That was awesome. I don't know what happened, but it was good. (I'm trying to build up a buffer before coming back from hiatus, so that should help.)

I don't know how people can do so many updates a week. My max is 2 a week, since it takes a full night to write each chapter, which wipes me out for the next night. And still, I can only do 2 a week when nothing unexpected happens. And something unexpected always happens.

I suppose I could spend less time editing or write shorter chapters, but my thinking is this: Quality of the story comes first, being on time comes second. Probably not the best business model, but I don't expect to make money from CotF... at least not anytime soon.

I draft my posts everyday, and at times I can go up to 2 posts per day rather than 1. That's why I can update my web fiction everyday. But then, after one book is done, I'll leave it into a hitaus for two months (but recently I updated with side stories) so I can draft the next book so I can have updates in case I'm too busy to draft.

I try to work on a little bit of the buffer. I try to start out each chapter, since I just need to set the tone of the other piece. However, recently, I've been having fun with the later episodes that I've forgot about the current ones.

I don't stick to one, although I designed several which is why the one story I tried writing doesn't even have the first chapter completed yet. :(

The only reason I've been able to stick to my schedule so far has been because 7 Days is done and has been revised a lot. It's ready to go. I'm using the time I have between the start of 7 Days and its end to get another story going. By the end of June, I hope to have over 20 weeks of buffer (the more the better), and have some time for revision, too. After 7 Days ends, though, and Project 2 begins... well, that'll be entirely different.

As far as producing goes, I have one goal when I sit down to write: fill a notecard. If I can force that much out of me, the rest usually comes pretty easily.

Crap. Double post. Please ignore this one.

Years of planning and revising, first drafts of about 50 chapters (equivilent to about 150,000 words), and sheer force of will.

It also helps to have friends who waste away their lives playing video games. It stokes the embers of motivation.

I cheated.

Four episodes of my webserial have already been written and broken up into smaller installments. Each installment is already scheduled to post once a week so that I'm basically covered until the end of August.

The episodes after those four are the ones I'm working on now.

I figure I've got a little bit of time.

I wouldn't call that "cheating," acetachyon... either that, or I'm a total fraud! I've been releasing two episodes a week to my friends since June 2008, and the story won't publicly launch until August.

As for the original point... the only way you're going to "find time" is to move some other stuff aside. Take a real hard look at how you spend your time. Is there stuff you could do more efficiently? Easy way to clear a couple hours. Is there stuff you're doing out of habit but don't really enjoy? Look, more time.

After that it starts getting tricky, because you'll need to prioritize. When you have more things to do than time to do them, something isn't getting done. And sometimes, you'll need to make your writing the priority.

I'm fortunate in that my wife and friends understand how important Midnight Cross is to me. When I'm sequestered downstairs with the laptop instead of on the couch with my wife, she's okay. My friends know that I'm not blowing them off, I just have something I need to do.

Funny thing about that, though. Since I became more aware of how I was spending my time, it also made me more determined to spend *quality* time with people. One really good night with my wife or friends has proven better than two or three so-so ones.

Point being... there's no magic formula to finding that 25h hour in a day. But if you take a real good look at your time budget, you can probably find enough fat to trim that writing fits right in.


I do my best to update with two chapters and a bonus story every week. If I can't make an update--which has been happening a lot lately because the chapters have been extra long lately, twice as long as usual--I make sure people know as far in advance as I can. So far, no one has been too pissed off, in no small part because they increasingly entertain themselves, the creatures. :)

I didn't answer the question: This is my primary job now. That's how I find the time. I'm lucky.

I used to pride myself on quite a rigid thrice-weekly update schedule, but for a while now I've been doing one update a week(ish).

To be fair, there have been external forces at work in delaying my updates, but still...I hang my head in shame!