I write and edit … a lot. It’s my all-time everyday oxygen-blood. It is what fuels me. Yes, it’s also my work, but writing is the thing I would do even if my career was in some other industry. Creating stories and thinking about them ARE the things I do instead of most other things.
But it’s also something that doesn’t just happen. I spend, on average, 55 hours a week working as a full-time writer.
I couldn’t do as much as I do if it wasn’t for the planning and scheduling system I’ve developed and adapted over the years. It usually takes me about a couple of hours each week to sit down and plan out my week, but during specific times throughout the year, I have larger planning sessions that can take up my whole day focused on the bigger goals I’m working toward each month, week, and day.
I’m a big HUGE fan of intentions.
Know your intentions.
Set your intentions.
Live your intentions.
Setting my intentions for the week/month helps me know what I need to focus on and why. Once I have my intentions, I break those intentions out into actual actions and tasks that I’ll do throughout the week. Once I have the tasks down, I choose days and times to complete them during the week. Then each day, I review my weekly planner and put it into my daily planner and journal.
It’s pretty simple but really impactful for me, so I’ll get into it more and how I use it to help me get it all done.
In my journal—and for journal nerds, I use a basic composite notebook—I use one page to check in with my week through a reflection. On that one page, I write a paragraph reflecting on the major issues coming up and the lingering feelings from the last week, and what I want the next week to look like. The key to writing this paragraph is being open to whatever comes up. I’ve been doing this journaling for a few years, so I’m good at condensing my main problems or even focusing on a core problem in that paragraph without a lot of thumb-spinning.
After that paragraph, I write a couple of lines of intentions around my core issue or problem of the week I want to fix in the upcoming week. My intentions get the second biggest space on the page. I just let myself say what I want, what I need, what I wish for.
Then comes the actions. Before I write out my action steps, I write an end goal for the week. Usually, it comes in the form of two goals or general focuses, so I can say I worked toward living in accordance with my intentions. Once I have that, then I break out actual actions I will do to get to my goal and reach my intentions. I do this intentional journaling every Sunday night before breaking out my weekly schedule. To make sure I’m doing what I should be doing, I check over what I’ve written throughout the week.
A lot of times, my intentional journal isn’t based on my creative or writing works. Because while my life and heart are all about writing, life isn’t. I work a lot, and if I’m not careful, I can lose sight of things outside of what I’m doing. My weekly planner is where I get to blend my intentions with my writing.
Each year, I get a new planner to try and find The One, and this year I finally did. The Planner Pad has really shaken up my planning. It’s helped me focus my life and manage my time in a whole new way. I’ll be sticking with this planner as long as they make it.
It’s broken up into three sections. The top section is for breaking up my tasks for the week into categories. I have a category for my writing work, my book work, reading, hobbies, life, health, and home. My writing work gets filled out first, then my hobbies and life. Everything else gets filled out after that, and everything is based on my intentions. If I want to spend more time talking with friends and socializing, then I think about how to work collaboration into my work, and social time into my days.
The second section is devoted to plotting out the tasks into days of the week. For my weekdays, I tend to work on at least 4-5 work tasks and 5-6 life tasks. Since I have a full-time writing job, I spend most of my day working on those projects and meetings throughout the day. Then once that work is done, I switch to my other writing tasks. The final section of the planner is all about breaking each task down into the hours it will take.
In the past, I usually would stop at the weekly planning. But part way through this year, I felt like I was missing something. I felt distant from my day-to-day tasks, and I felt like I wasn’t really making as much progress as I would like. My schedule was all over the place, and more often than not, I skipped some tasks or forget to do them. I was hectically productive.
The BestSelf Self Journal is a new addition to my system that I only started using at the beginning of August, but it’s going to be my new go-to daily planner. I used to use basic lists like this Library Card To-Do List. And I still do, from time to time when I don’t want to do a full bust out of my day—like on weekends and trips.
The Self Journal is already set up with intention spots and weekly check-ins. The daily part is two pages, one that’s a dot journal for free form planning and note taking. Then another side with an hour breakdown of the day. The journal suggests every hour of your day be accounted for to eliminate decision fatigue and wondering what the next thing should be. I always overschedule and pack my day, so my plate is always full.
What my basic daily to-do lists and weekly planner were missing was that journaling space for me to reflect and jot down random notes. I also enjoy the small elements of the journal, like a ranking of the day and how well I mapped out my plans. There are also spaces for daily gratitude check-ins and thinking on ways to make the day great.
The title of this post is a tad misleading because I do more than just write to make up my larger projects. The book I’m about to query only took a week to actually write, but the editing, revising, rewriting, plotting, and all the stuff that makes up creating a project has taken me about 8 months. Submitting stories out technically isn’t writing, but I still have to carve out space for it every month to make sure it gets done.
And learning that working a full-time writing job and living the life of an author means that not every day or activity is going to actually be writing, but it all feeds back into the writing and helps it.
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4 thoughts on “How I Write: Scheduling My Writing”
Yet another amazing post. Your posts really sing to me as a writer. Anyway, I find myself to be most open in my cheapest books, so I tend to gravitate towards minimalist supplies e.g. my USD 1 composition notebooks and pencils. I like thinking on paper.
For admin duties, I prefer digital, and am pretty much stuck in the Apple ecosystem. So it’s Notes and Reminders for me. Anyway, thanks for this post!
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Thanks for reading, Stuart! Your method sounds great.
I’ve been looking for a new task management system for my writing, and this was super helpful! Thank you for sharing your process!
Thank you for reading and commenting!