My Writing Schedule
How I manage work as a freelance writer and stay-at-home parent
Recently, I realized that to write more, I need to create a schedule. Sure enough, I am not alone in this. Whether you’re a freelance writer or a hobbyist, having a schedule allows you to really settle into the role. As a freelance writer, I have found that many don’t take my job as seriously as they might a typical 9–5 job. A schedule informs both myself and others that when I am writing, I am at work — even if I’m at home.
Creating a schedule will also help you reach goals. You might be interested in achieving a specific word count or working through specific times. Maybe you want to be more consistent in posting articles, or you may have a novel (or two) you’d like to finish up. Well, writing on a schedule will offer you some rhythm, which can help with those slumps where you just can’t be bothered.
My personal schedule is tailored to my life as a stay-at-home parent that also homeschools one child. So, one word: busy!
To bring some order to this chaos, I created a single-week chart; just empty slots for Monday through Sunday. Then, I added my normal schedule which included chores and errands. To get more specific, I wrote in times — usually an hour — each day where I could fit in “Free Time”.
Free Time is just an empty time slot that I can fill with self-care, work, or anything else I feel can’t be done otherwise. This puts your unscheduled bits of life into a perspective that you can work with. While my free time is still limited, I actually realized how much time I could really commit to writing.
My Writing Schedule |
- Free Time, (4:30–5:30 pm)
- Research, (4–5:30 pm); this includes topics of personal interest and those that are trending
- Search and download new images, (4–5 pm); these can be for your current article or for the archive for later work
- Write article rough draft, (4–5 pm)
- Rewrite and edit draft, (7–8 pm, or 10–11 pm); sometimes I don’t want to write during the first time allotted so I move it to later in the night
- Free Time, (10:30–11 am); somedays I do not have this time, but when I do, I like to spend it on more fun writing projects like fanfiction or creating mock book covers
- Publish, (9 am); according to search engines, posts published through 7–11 am on Sundays have the most traffic
Avoid Burnout |
Not only am I a writer, but I am also an artist running a Redbubble shop. As a creator wearing many hats, I need to avoid burnout. I have spent months tweaking little parts of my schedule and creative process to find what works for me.
Somedays I focus on art or writing, sometimes I play The Sims 4. And, when I honestly need a break, I refuse to push myself. In that case, I will cozy up in bed and catch up on some shows. Sometimes I will even be lucky enough to get through a nap! I know that this is still time well spent because rest reenergizes me for the work still ahead of me. You’ll thank me later!
And, I will be publishing an article that goes much more in-depth about avoiding burnout but for now, know that it is okay to stray from the schedule you’ve set. You are the master of your time and if you get sick, feel burnt out, or just aren’t up to writing (or whatever you’re working toward) then take that time to rest.
Creating a schedule is simply to increase your workload.
And if you just can’t shake the feeling that you’re wasting time by taking a break (doesn’t matter how long that is), consume content that is related to your goals. Content that inspires you but is unrelated to your goals is also good. We want the aim of this particular exercise to focus on inspiring you.
Now that we have the basics, we can take a deeper look at other kinds of goals one might have as a writer.
Daily Work |
Having a daily goal will allow you to spend a small portion of everyday writing. This work can be geared toward any material you have — professional or personal. However, you should have a solid amount of time to do so.
Daily goals are honestly so disciplined and while achievable, are simply soft guidelines if you have the time and energy. When starting a new schedule, it may or may not be more difficult to get into the rhythm. However, once you start, I assure you that you will see a dramatic increase in your personal skills.
Stephen King has stated that he has a daily goal of 1,000 words. I like that number but sometimes, I just cannot make it. I will be stuck at 700 with no foreseeable end. Being the type of person I am, I cannot ignore situations that bring unnecessary stress to my life. So, I’ve learned to let go of these strict guidelines that weren’t working for me and remained honest with myself about what I could actually accomplish. On the same note, having a schedule is not negotiable. So, I’ve assessed what I can manage on average, and right now, that is half of what King advises.
I like to keep my number at 500. It is an easier number to work towards and if I go over the limit, I feel great. But if that’s still difficult, maybe break it up throughout the day until you can manage 500 in one single stretch.
You know yourself best. And as you progress in your writing, you may eventually want to increase this goal.
Weekly Work |
If you average 500 words a day, you will achieve 3,500 words a week. This is the average length of some of my true crime articles. That’s about 20 minutes of material.
It is always nice to strive for more, but everyone has to start somewhere. As previously stated, you can increase or decrease word count to your ability and comfort.
Overall Goals |
My overall goals are to complete my epic and dark fantasy novels as well as to write an article once or twice a month. I don’t want to stress too much on these final goals because they are at the end of the journey. What truly matters is the daily and weekly input. However, these final goals will help guide you.
So, what are your long-term goals? What do you hope to accomplish with your daily and weekly writings? When you can answer this, the other goals will be a little easier to delegate and accomplish.
This sense of direction when you feel at your lowest will also alleviate stress and encourage you to continue working. When I have no interest in writing and don’t have any art commissions to work on, I create mood boards, find character inspiration, and consume related content to increase my motivation toward the ultimate goals I have. I do not feel quite as lost as I had in previous years when I hadn’t implemented these steps or type of schedule. And also, I don’t feel so dang guilty putting aside my writing for the day or week!
The end goal of implementing a schedule is to bring focus to your work. It’s about managing discipline and motivation, finding time to work on your goals while maintaining momentum toward a final, much larger ambition.
Your schedule should be tailored to fit into your hectic lifestyle while offering you the authority to stand up for your goals. This is your future that we’re talking about!
Before creating a schedule, I figured I could just work in writing whenever I had the drive or time to do so. I didn’t take my writing seriously and it allowed others to act similarly. This created resentment within my being.
Now, I am in control of my writing opportunities (within reason), and the choice to write lies solely with me. And, when I do settle in for some writing, others recognize that time.
So, if you’re desperate to become a writer, or are already established and just looking for some structure, a schedule will help you achieve your goals efficiently. With less stress and pressure to perform, this laidback idea of scheduling will give you the opportunity to explore the many avenues of writing while allowing you to become the skilled, confident writer that you dream of being!