My number one tip for writers
If you’ve worked with me, you’ve probably heard me say this before, and I’ll say it again. In fact, it’s my number one tip for writers. If you are out of sorts with your writing, start here:
Schedule your writing time on your calendar.
Why is it so important to schedule your writing time and how can that help your writing itself, even if you’re already writing?
I want to be clear here: I do not think that writing is an end in itself. I do not think that you need to write to be happy or that writing alone will make you happy or that if you’re a “better” writer, your life somehow has more value. And I do not think that more writing is “better.”
There are so many writing schools that value only the writing and don’t ask the larger question of: Why does writing matter? How can we integrate our writing into a meaningful, aligned, life? But I believe that our best work and our best living both come from integration.
I think I’m preaching to the choir here.
When we schedule our writing time on the calendar, we allow writing to take an integrated place in our life.
Tips for writers who don’t write enough
There are so many writing schools that value only the writing and don’t ask the larger question of: Why does writing matter? How can we integrate our writing into a meaningful, aligned, life? But I believe that our best work and our best living both come from integration. And many of us have a deep calling to be writing, so we should do what we are called to do.
Scheduling our writing time on the calendar allows us to show up for ourselves and it helps writing take an integrated place in our life.
So many of us have the intention to write, but then don’t take the time for it. But when we don’t do what we want to do, we don’t feel fully alive. To write, we need to write—we need to take the time. Even if it’s only 15 minutes.
And even only 15 minutes usually doesn’t appear on its own. So look at your schedule and make a date with yourself. Don’t let other people or your phone interrupt you, and show up for yourself. That is very important!
Tips for Writers Who Write Often
For those of you who have the opposite problem and write often, scheduling is still important. Scheduling your writing time on your calendar helps prevent writing-fatigue, guilt, and burnout.
If you don’t know when you’re going to be writing, every moment becomes a decision. And decisions are energy drains. Stop asking yourself: should I be writing now, when will I be writing, did I write enough? Was my writing “good” enough, etc. etc. If you’re thinking too much about writing, it can become a chore and a drag.
Even if you’re one of those people (like me!) who doesn’t particularly like schedules (after all, writers like freedom, right?), trust me: being clear about when you are writing and when you are not writing is a game-changer.
When you schedule your time on your calendar, you get to be writing when you’re writing and not writing when you’re not writing. Zen masters tell us to chop wood when we’re chopping wood and carry water when we’re carrying water. Yes, we’re writers even when we’re not writing, but being clear about our writing schedule helps us drop unhelpful internal narratives about our writing life.
Healthy boundaries make for healthy writing.
All healthy relationships need good boundaries. Once those are in place, then make a deal with yourself: your job is to show up and write. It’s not to write your favorite or best work. It’s just to show up and do the best you can at the moment.
When you have a schedule, you come to trust yourself. You come to trust that some days will go well and some days not so well, and you’ll keep on showing up.
So I invite you to: Look at your calendar now and schedule some writing time for the next two weeks.
Be realistic about how much time and when you can write each week. Better to start small with something that you know you can do than to set yourself up for failure.
But, you may be thinking, don’t you advise us to live like writers, not to make rigid distinctions between our writing self and the rest of us?
Yes. When you are not writing you are still a writer, just as even when my children are at school, I’m still a mother. And you can interact with the world as a writer, making observations, gathering your material—which is everything that you come into contact with. But parents and writers both need some boundaries.
If your writing time is clearly demarcated and is something that you can trust—and that your writing can trust—then your relationship with writing, and with your own creative voice and self, will become healthier and more fulfilling.
This is important whether you are writing your third novel or taking time to write in a journal for your mental health. Whatever your particular writing project, having a clear time when you do your writing is helpful.
Tips for writers who do different kinds of writing
If you do multiple kinds of writing—say, for example, you are working on that third novel and writing in a journal—schedule time for those two different projects separately. Know what kind of writing project you are going to be doing when you schedule your time. Maybe you have a piece you are working on, maybe you are just exploring, but be clear about what you are going to be sitting down to do.
So if you haven’t already, take just two minutes, look at your calendar, and schedule your time with your writing for the next two weeks. Give yourself this gift!
And if you haven’t already, download my free Ebook with the 7 tips for more powerful, easeful writing
And then leave me a comment or any questions below. I love to hear from you!
And please share this with any friends who might enjoy it!