Writing Advice: Create a Writing Schedule

Recently, a good friend of mine asked me about my creative process. How do I go about my work? Do I have any advice on how to start writing? What’s a good starting point to get that cool idea in your head onto the page and into a final product? I have a few answers related to this. In later posts I’ll talk about how I approach problems, what tools I use, and more. But for my first piece of advice, I’m going to start very simple. It’s about creating a routine my brain gets used to.

What worked for me, the absolute most important thing I did, was create a regular writing schedule.

I’m a busy guy. I have a full-time job, I have a family, a couple hobbies, I like to read the occasional book, and in my own time I have to stay current on industry trends (that’s fancy talk meaning I have to play lots of different games). With all of that going on, how do I find time to write? For years I had tinkered around, moving from one half-finished project to the next, and I realized that something needed to change. I wanted to complete projects, not just work on them.

I created a schedule to write. I marked it on my calendar.

This is not simply finding a few minutes here or there, but creating a regular time set aside for the purpose of writing. It wasn’t easy. I started by using my lunch break. Every day I would eat my lunch, and then use the remaining minutes of my break to work on my writing. Did I make a lot of progress? Not initially. I still had to supplement my writing by squeezing in an hour before or after work or on the weekend. But the critical part was to write every single day, even if only for 10 minutes. Some days I would write a half-dozen pages, other days I only managed a paragraph. But I kept at it. This routine kept the story alive in my mind, and I could quickly pick up where I left off.

If I skipped days, I found I had to spend valuable time reading where I left off, trying to remember where the story was headed. I couldn’t afford to do that, I needed to write and keep making progress.

If you have more time available to you, that’s great! Maybe you have less, you can’t write every day, but either way try to write at the same time on a regular basis. Every other day. The same evening each week.

My strongest recommendation is to write each day. Your brain will start gearing up as you near that time.

I think this more than anything else helped me power through writing my first book.