What do you mean by 'schedule'?

I'm trying to think of a nicer way to write 'I may have absolutely stalked Wildbow through Reddit yesterday because lo and behold he popped up in the comments of a thread I was reading and what he wrote really made me think so now I'm trying to frame this as a happy compliment and not Tartra-hiding-in-the-bushes because I swear this isn't a habit' than how I just wrote that right now. Tell me how this floats your boat as far as discussions topics go:


"I read something the other day that got me thinking. There was a writer on one of my local haunts describing how hard he's had to work to get his schedule in consistent posting order. It's really paid off, to the point that he's now the Jared to 'entertaining quantity over stagnant quality's Subway. But he also - for privacy's sake, I'll leave out the specifics, because that's where I draw the line - gave a neat amount of detail into his full schedule. It is so drastically different from mine, I almost want to throw my hands up."


I work full-time. Ha, ha, don't we all, because writing is a full-time job. I mean outside of writing, I work a 9-5 corporate death that has been siphoning the life out of me for the past two years. When I get home, my only thoughts are on sleep, which to be fair, usually gets me going again, which to be unfair, is a one or two hour further theft of my time after an already damning hour commute home. So cutting out the extra sleep, I have 10 hours of my day immediately cut off from writing. Gone. Just - immediately, in a way that university never prepared me for. Back then, I had classes I could slip between that were within ten minutes of walking over, days where I crammed all my courses into three miserable days so I could use the other four to derp to my heart's content. And I was constantly engaged by things around me, full of actual motivation to do stuff. Now, it's those ten locked hours, those other two napping hours, the hour in the morning to get ready, the six-ish hours of sleep I get at night, and I'm left with... Okay, yes, I used my fingers - OKAY, yes, I used my phone: six other hours where I have to get everything finished.


That's whining. /end whining


How do you manage those last hours? Six - I have six - I should be happy to play with, but that's only on paper. In reality, I'm just so relieved to be away from my job for an evening that I'm reluctant to get back to any project. On the plus side, every chapter I've put out for The Other Kind of Roommate is actually fun enough for me to re-read merrily, because I literally do not have the mindset to drag a dull scene on. However, this leaves me to write in such awkward bursts that the next time I go to start, even if I had the most fanciful time on the planet before, I'm thinking, 'Crap. There goes my night. I better get all this other stuff out of the way.'


I've been leaning more heavily on outlining processes, and those have done wonders so far. It's literally how I got to part ten. Does anyone else have any tips? Does anyone else want to share what their full day schedule is and talk about what they have to manage outside of the writing process? You, the writers who do much with little, are the guys I have to learn from, and the writers who have more 'free time available' are the guys I have to ask: how do you support yourselves? I'm this damn close to quitting even without another job lined up.


The more draining your day job is, the harder it's going to be to find time to write. I'm pretty sure this is one of thoe immutable rules of trying to get started as a writer. As much as it sucks, with such massive chunks taken out of your weekdays by work plus a 2 hour round trip commute, I think you're best bet is just to make yourself schedule 2-3 hours of writing time every day. It won't likely ALL be on a usable project, but make yourself sit down and write. Flesh out your outlines a little more if the actual words don't want to come, write a single scene short story and then try to convince yourself to post it somewhere, anything to make writing a daily thing will help a LOT. I got really lucky in that A) I LIKE my day job (it's still draining, but I enjoy the work) and B) I managed to shuffle my schedule around to something that approximates a 4-10's instead of 5-8's, so I get a three day weekend almost every week (and my commute is less than ten minutes, so that's nice too ^_^)


Don't know if any of that is helpful, but hopefully it is! I do recommend at least trying out the 'scheduled mandatory writing time.' It sounds really shitty, and to start with it was not a particularly productive time for me, but it's getting better as I keep doing it, so there's hope at least!


I can try to do scheduled; I cannot do daily.


My goal is to get to a twice-monthly posting schedule. I'd be seriously delighted with myself for pulling it off. But daily writing, as much as I would love it, isn't going to fit in with all the other things I need to do. That's my choice and my reaped consequences of putting my story where it is on my totem pole of priorities, but I need to be writing in time slots of hours (if I'm counting in minutes, I won't get the momentum I need to really enjoy what I put down), and Boyfriend, Friends, Cat, Eating, Networking, Critiquing Other People's Beta Work, Family - well... It's a trade-off, and not one writing can win. :/ It sounds depressing, and it is, but sometimes it takes as much discipline not to write as it does TO. There's people I've been neglecting lately.


Fleshing out my outlines, however, is definitely a direction I can head down. I can do that in snippets fairly easily, and I already have a OneNote notebook set up to catch random scenes as they appear in my head. I may never, ever use them, but they help me understand my characters all the more and that should put me in their heads faster for when I get down to work.


And I'm gonna keep on with the 'new job' plan.


I've heard of writers using their commute time for writing; is there anyway you could do that?


I use that time for sleep. I've tried it, and I can jot notes down (outlines!), but I'm not awake enough on the way there and too drained on the way back to legitimately write-write, rough drafts included. You see my frustrating dilemma. D:


Seriously, I'm working on the new job thing. I recognize the common issue and I am not blind to the problem I desperately need to fix. But in the meantime, there's a list I want to grow of little things I can do (random scenes!) to maximize my time when I do sit down. Hopefully some of that can come from writers who have an equally heavy schedule but still manage to pull out weekly updates.


I believe the most important thing to keep in mind is your reason for writing. Ideally, the reason is something that gets you fired up so much that you WANT to write in your couple hours of free time. If you really believe in your story and in your reason for putting it out there, you can make it work. No matter what. But if you keep having doubts and it's nothing but a chore that drains your energy after work, take a break. And don't feel bad about it.


My reason is that I want to see my thing on Amazon as a series of 3-5 ebooks in 2-3 years. It needs a lot more editing before I get there, but I believe I can make it happen. I'm so enthusiastic about it that I already check out potential cover artists two years in advance, make plans for marketing and save money for an editor. Most importantly, I believe in the story and in my ability to make the step towards 'real' publishing.


There was one month where I spent 12 hours away from home every weekday. I got up at 6 AM, came home at 6:30 PM, ate, wrote, went to sleep. Woke up, went to work. Rinse repeat. I managed because I believed, and believing gave me all the energy I needed.


I think what Chrysalis said is really relevant. If you don't WANT to do it, it's not going to happen. My rule has always been that the moment Caelum Lex starts becoming a chore rather than a pleasure is the moment we need to reconsider it.


But if you do want to do it, and I'm hoping you do, time can definitely be an issue. I work a job that can range from 9 to 14 hours a day depending and while I love what I do, it can be exhausting so I feel ya for sure. On top of that, my home time isn't usually solitary time. But it gets done every week anyway. Somehow.


The most important thing I think is that most people are creative at different times of day and it's important to figure out what time that is for you and adjust your schedule for that. For me, it's in the morning so I get up well before work so I have time every morning to draw, then I do planning on my drive to work and I arrive to work early so I have a solid chunk of writing time before anyone shows up and gives me an assignment to do. And that's pretty much just how I make it work. Finding time throughout work is pretty key for my process as well. Lunchtime is great. Slow periods between campaigns. Waiting on client info, stuff that like. Depending on your job, you might be able to find little moments to just jot down an idea or even a paragraph or two.


Alternatively, write the whole thing on the weekend? Did that for a while in the beginning. I kinda felt like it took over my weekend though so I stopped, but if you're having fun, nothing wrong with it.


I absolutely feel your pain! I too have a 8-5 day job, with additional .5-4 hours of overtime a week on average. Committing to a twice-a-week update schedule increased my readership, but it also has meant several days where I get home exhausted and drained from work only to face the prospect of having to write an entire chapter that I'm really not feeling up to. Add in housework, cooking, and the occasional friend who needs help or evening that is taken up by some emergency or other, and those 4 hours "on paper" certainly slip away.


The answer that has worked for me is probably the most boring and depressing answer I could have come up with; I treat it as a second job. Often, when at work, I'll have to come in and do things I don't want to do, because it's my job and that's just that. Treating writing in that manner hasn't been *fun* exactly, but it has been incredibly effective. I keep stats, on writing time and words per hour and editing ability. I set up spreadsheets to keep track of other serials, see what's working for them and what I would do differently. I try to get involved in the community (I could probably do a better job of that, but for a terminally shy and quiet girl like me I count it as progress).


Some people might say that I risk taking the joy out of writing, but it's worked out for me. Looking back and seeing how much I've written, some of which I'm actually proud of, is a pretty amazing feeling. It's difficult, a lot of hard work, and a lot of the time it's no fun at all...but it's a passion. Passion is pretty hard to kill :) It might not get easier, but you will get better at it.


You do understand! If I had to add overtime onto my pile, I would never have started writing. I wouldn't have had the time for even what I have so far.


'Getting involved' is always one of those weird concepts that sounds fantastic and that everyone lauds each others' praises for, but no one ever actually explains hoooooow. "Go on Twitter! Don't sell your book! Talk about other things and then sell them your book! Get a blog! Write on other people's blogs! Don't make it like a personal blog, but show the real you!" Thanks, guys.


I could treat it like a second job, I suppose. I don't want to have to, but I could very easily be undercutting how much fun I'll genuinely have if I just sit down and do it. Okay: it's the twenty-third. What are the odds that I write and publish the next part of my story by the end of the month? That counts as two for January, I think.


I treated it as a second job, but I think you know that. The reddit comment thread you referenced is probably: http://www.reddit.com/r/writing/comments/2smqlt/these_days_writing_isnt_a_career_its_a_rich_mans/cnrd15t - I talk about how I worked part time (10-30 hours a week, about) while writing much of Worm (for 40-50 hours a week). As I made more money, I worked less, until I was just doing the writing.


You're locked into stricter hours, but there's nothing saying you can't devote 40 hours a week to work and 10-30 to writing.


If you really want to succeed at writing, I think it's a given that you'll have to make sacrifices. I didn't get into it in that thread, but I've moved to a smaller town where rent is lower (and I don't have so many general hassles), and I've elected to not have a car - if I need to travel to another city, I catch the train. If I need to get elsewhere in the city, I walk (and could bus, but this town doesn't have great bus service).


I'm also thinking along the lines that I probably don't ever want kids. I don't hate or dislike them, as a general rule, but they involve a huge investment of time and money and they have a way of taking over one's life. Too easy to become a writer that's also a stay at home parent, then to let the writing thing cede ground to the parenting thing.


Some of the sacrifices are smaller, or harder to evaluate. To social relationships, or cost in opportunity or in sleep or whatever else.


Writing while commuting might be your best bet. You want to sleep, but this is your biggest pool of free time, or pseudo-free time. I've been there, it's what I did, one of the small sacrifices I made. Even if I wasn't in a position to write longform, I could sketch out the plot threads and brainstorm names for arcs and figure out what I was doing in subsequent chapters. This made for less stumbling blocks that could arrest my writing process. The main trick here is to get yourself moving. To build up some momentum, so when you can find a free moment, you can put the pen to the page and write.


And remember, the important thing is to just make headway. It doesn't have to be good or special. Just get your idea down there. Get in the habit of using your head in your spare time to turn ideas over or debate plot points. Figure out the snarls where you're stuck or not sure how to move forward. What you do, what I did, was get in the state where I was writing even when I didn't have a pen or computer at hand. Just writing away in my head while walking the dog or buying groceries.


That seems like a healthy consensus from everyone so far, that it's about jamming more writing hours into my schedule. I know there's no such thing as a 'trick' to doing it, but this stuff - all the planning that surrounds writing on any level - is not as intuitive as I used to hope. It sounds like common sense in hindsight, but going into these projects, I never consider the changes I need to make or how many priorities have to get shuffled around. And unfortunately, it's not something I can really say, "It'll get better later" to. Either I work it in now, or I don't.


Planning, sketches, and fleshed out outlines are the three first steps I can take. Alright. I can practice those. I hope it's something I can practice, anyway. I carry my phone literally everywhere (waterproof = writing party in the shower), so I'll make better use of it. I just have to get my head onto that page: writing takes time, and that time doesn't magically appear instead of coming from something else. Let's call it Writer's Shock.


Haha - what do you know? The best tips is a neat, "Oh, writing's hard? Really? That's a surprise to all of us." :D


@Wildbow - I'll continue not stalking you by the way, which I absolutely wasn't in the first place.


There IS a trick to doing it. Believe in your story. Then you'll find plenty of moments to occupy your mind with it for awhile.


I've had some of my best ideas while walking to places. I'm another one of those no-car people.


All of my best ideas have come from showers for some reason. I'm almost always thinking about my story or something related to it (it helps that it's a microcosm of a bunch of stuff I'm always thinking about anyway, like world war 2 warfare). But the shower is locked in and peaceful and there's nothing distracting or to distract myself with. So I've written out whole scenes in my head paragraph by paragraph just standing in the shower soaking.


showers and baths are well known. Im a big walker, i do a lot of gelling ideas while walking.


More than a mandatory writing time, you may want to try mandatory meditation or something similar. something to let your brain idle before going to sleep, let ideas flow, and thenwhen you DO sit to write, it goes easier.


RIght now I aso do a lot of writing in noteboks at work, and type it out later.


I agree with both of you: the magic in a shower is as real as it is improbably far from anywhere you can write your genius ideas down. Waterproof phone: best side-feature any of my phones have ever had.


I see two things to respond to here:


1. Getting into a job you enjoy more.

2. Arranging your life so that you have the energy to write.


They're related, but not the same thing.


With regards to that, here's my thoughts:


1. Making the job part of your life work.

My personal ideal would be to do some combination of writing and "interesting programming." The latter could be freelance, part time, or full time, but the key thing is that it would be web development that causes me to use my imagination regularly. The writing part would be some combination of web serial, self-publishing Legion of Nothing, and ideally having a few books traditionally published.


To that end, my goal is to get as many books of Legion into ebook, print and audiobook form as I can, and then keep on releasing them, creating a minimum financial base that allows me to self-publish and hopefully eventually actually live off of.


At the same time, I'm continuing to look for interesting jobs in programming/system administration/technical support, and do some freelance work. I don't have to have the best ever job in this area, just one that's good enough to fill my income needs. The goal is to set myself up so that as writing income increases, I can be choosier about the IT job end of things. Also, I have a few startup ideas that I want to try, but don't have time for right now. Maybe that too.


I say this not because you need to know it, but because you might want to think of a plan to get into writing full time, or simply do something you like more than you currently do. And also, because you might want to ask yourself what your long term goals are with writing/other work and what are the steps between getting from here to there.


2. Arranging your life so that you have the energy to write.

Weirdly, I feel like I'm doing this worse now than I was when I started. Originally I wrote every night for an hour or two and posted with time to spare, Then I got into a busier time of life (2 kids, starting a business, grad school), and found that I missed deadlines a lot, posting the next day.


Currently (for the last 2-3 years), I'm consistently posting on time, but I'm starting sometimes as late as 10pm on the night before and finishing at 4am the day of if I have to. I don't really recommend that.


On the other hand, I'm able to pay attention to my wife and kids, work on freelance work, and editing the Legion of Nothing serial into novels.


You can take this as advice or cautionary tale, your choice.


The advice part really is to have a goal first. The way you make it work will change. I know work/life balance is your short term goal, but you might want to consider the long term one too.


The new job issue is something I'm taking definite steps towards fixing. But for the second point you made, I've gotta say, I never really considered writing as a long-term goal. I assumed it, sure, but it didn't really occur to me. I'm going to take another look at my priorities. When I write them down, this story's consistently at the top. That should be my sign to pay attention and treat this as important as it is.


Thank you for that. Again, it sounds so obvious in hindsight, but I needed to run into the wall to figure out it was there at all.


First off, I'm really glad I'm not the only one stalking Wildbow's Reddit comments. In my defense -- and yes I am preparing for the day my lawyer has to make an argument in court for me because seriously why did I stalk Wildbow, only to break into his house and eat all his socks what could I possibly expect to get out of that experience -- they're an absolute treasure trove of information about serial writing.


More to the point of the thread, I find it useful to write every day. Even if it's a small bit, it can go towards developing the writing HABIT, which is important for a lot of writers (not all, obviously. Wildbow's the one who immediately springs to mind. P.S. Dude, I'm so sorry I got into the habit of breaking into your house and eating all your socks like seriously that was such a weird time in my life).


If you set your goal as, "Put some words on the page every day for six months," you can just write a sentence or two on your worst days, and then strive for something a little more on the good days. That won't get you super-far wordcount-wise, but I found it psychologically beneficial. Then, when it's comfortable, you can start upping how much you expect from yourself on your worst days: 100 words, 200 words, etc.


Also, I definitely had to make sacrifices to have any success in writing (it's small-scale success, but it's the sort of success I'm happy with: finishing my first novel, making some money with copywriting, getting a short comic script accepted by a small press British comic anthology, etc. I feel awkward talking about success -- or a lack thereof. But I just want to let you know where I'm coming from when I think about "writing success." Vague terms are the bane of comprehension, and all that.)


You've only got 24 hours in a day, and you're doing something every single second. Some of those seconds are spent staring off into space, but maybe that time is useful to give your brain a break. Most seconds are spent on a whole list of productive things: job, relationships, household stuff, or maybe even other hobbies *gasp*. OR MAYBE EVEN TV *DOUBLE-GASP* #AMERICANHORRORSTORY. To really succeed in writing, your desire to write has to supersede your desire to do something else on that list. Actually, what Jim Zoeteway was talking about is a really good example: he didn't want to cut anything out of his life, but he still wanted to have time enough to both write and edit. So, he cut back on sleep.


To conclude, I'm re-reading this post I just wrote, and actually it sounds a lot like a Chuck Wendig article. Why are you listening to me when there's a Chuck Wendig out there in the world? Everything I didn't learn about writing from Wildbow I probably learned from him (or possibly my sock-parents, but that's another story). Here's an article of his that's helped me get through a lot of writing-y stuff: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/07/26/25-ways-to-become-a-better-writer/


Alright. That's it? I rambled, but hopefully also helped? Maybe? I'd give this a B+ for effort, at least.


This is pertinent for me as I've recently come up against the limits of my time and energy. I'm putting in three chapters a week, averaging 5K words each, and though it's stretched me at times, I've made it. However, I'm trying to put in a donation incentive for bonus chapters and that's where I've hit the wall.


In the end, I guess what's essential is to know yourself, your situation, and your limits. Try things out, figure out what you CAN do and commit to that. And if your situation changes, be up front with your readers about what's going on. As long as you don't spring nasty surprises on people, I've found most can be pretty accommodating.


I can't schedule my writing. I'm not the sort of person who can declare "7-8pm is writing time", and force myself to do it. What I CAN do is write to a schedule. I publish every Sunday at 7am - and there's maybe two people who would notice if I didn't, so I let that motivate me. Some weeks I need a break from work Wednesday night, so I write then. Other weeks I'm busy, so it's Saturday afternoon (admittedly with plotted ideas from earlier in the week, in the shower). I can't write when commuting either, because I'm doing the driving.


Now, what I have had to sacrifice to do this is perfectionism. Granted, I don't write with the idea that my stuff is going to get published some day - in fact, since aspects of it are wrapped up in my personality, it may be unpublishable - no, I write with the idea that I need to do it. This doesn't mean I'm deliberately publishing sub-standard material, but: 1) Even if it is publish-worthy, this stuff's going to need editing before then anyway, and 2) The fact that I don't WANT to publish something sub-standard, or something that might paint me into a corner two weeks down the road, is an extra piece of motivation. So I write. Because I have a deadline that two people would notice. And because (I hope) the mistakes that come from it are ones I won't make again.


Caveat: I am a teacher, so while 10 months of my life are absolutely freaking insane in terms of the ton of things that need doing, I do have a couple weeks in the summer to look back and figure out what the hell I wrote. I'm assuming that's what other people use their vacation days for.