Thursday, February 12, 2015

How Changing My Writing Schedule Changed My Writing Life

Today I want to issue a an extremely genuine and heart-felt thank you to miss Ava Jae, of Writability. See, a few weeks ago she wrote a blog post called How I Became a Morning Person, in which she talks about why she gets up so early in the morning to simply get things done.

At first, I thought, "Well, Miss Ava Jae, you are a much better woman than I will ever be."

Then I realized: my semester was about to start.

For all of 2014 (Spring and Fall semesters), I had to take a writing hiatus during classes. I was reading too much and writing too many analytic papers, which, if ya'll haven't tried it, yet, takes up a lot of time. It's a time-eater is what it is. Which meant that I would try to write in the afternoons/late nights after I got my most pressing homework done, but I was too tired. Therefore: writing breaks and hiatuses. Which I hated.

After reading Ava's post, I had a thought: What's the harm in trying this for a week and seeing what happens? So I set my alarm for 5 a.m. on the weekdays, which gives me roughly 1.5 hours to write on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and about 1.75 hours to write on Mondays and Wednesdays, before turning on the morning news and grabbing my breakfast (and putting on makeup, putting on pants, etc. But it's after I grab my coffee because, well, coffee).

That was one month ago, and since then quite a number of extremely positive things have happened:

  • I've added about 25 k to my current project, THE HOLLOW MEN. 25 k in a month may not sound like a lot, but considering everything else I've done in this past month, this rocks (check out my word count in the sidebar; I update it almost daily).
  • I no longer feel stressed/pressured to write during the day. If you're in college, or have been in college, you know how much of a stress it already is to get your homework done. So add the mental pressure of carving out time to write, and you're screwed. Now that I get all of my writing done in the morning, the entire rest of my day (roughly 8 30 a.m. thru 8 p.m) can be reserved for school work and other things (like reading and editing for friends and CPs) guilt-free.
  • I can separate my "personal" writing from my school writing. Maybe this sounds like it should go in the category above, but let me explain: my "personal" writing is my WIP. My "school" writing, however, currently includes a fiction workshop, a nonfiction workshop, a poetry workshop, and my thesis (thesis will be roughly four short stories; everything else requires weekly creative writing assignments). This means that I can fully separate my novel from my creative assignments; it's simply a great way to compartmentalize.
  • There's a solid 24 hours in which I can simply brainstorm. I'm the kind of writer who likes to jump in and write and just see what happens. By designating my mornings for writing, it forces me to slow down, take my time, and think about what, exactly, goes next. Which means if I get stuck in the morning--even after only an hour--I'm okay with stopping because, heck, I know for a fact I'll have time tomorrow.
  • There are no distractions. Okay, only partial truth: I still have the internet, but the plus side is that many people aren't up, yet, so social media is about half dead. What I really mean is that my roommate is still asleep, so it basically feels like I'm home alone, which means there's less external distractions and talking breaks, and more writing.
  • I realized that the sun doesn't come up until about 6 30 a.m. Yes, this is a strange thing to say. Part of the reason I always thought myself so productive at night (even though I never got anything done--homework or otherwise--after about 8 30 p.m.) was because I thought myself a night owl, when the truth is: I'm more of a dark owl? I just love the night, before the sun comes up. It gives me a very lonely and closed-in feeling, which is compatible with the atmosphere I need while writing. So since it's still dark when I wake up, I'm completely productive.

And, well, there you go: why changing my writing schedule has worked out for me really well. So, thank you, Ava, for bringing up why you switched to mornings, because it encouraged me to try it out, too. And if I hadn't, I probably wouldn't be so far into my current draft. It's taught me a lot about the ways scheduling a particular writing time can help the creative process.

Plus, these days, I actually get excited to wake up early. It's the funnest part of my day, now.

There is a negative: I'm slightly more tired as the day goes on, especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays (when I work from 8 30 to 11 30 and then I have class from 11 45 until 8 at night). But, it's not completely incapacitating, so long as I have a mid-afternoon coffee.

The moral of my story: always keep your mind open for trying new things with your writing process; you never know how it might help.

What about ya'll? When are you the most productive with your writing, and how'd you figure that out?

Tweet It:

In which @Rae_Slater thanks writer @Ava_Jae for inspiring her to change her writing schedule, and why it's worked (Click to Tweet)

How revamping your writing schedule might be just what you need to be productive (Click to Tweet)


  1. What an excellent post! I know I often struggle to find time to write, although my creative ability ebbs and flows less on time and more on actual energy and motivation.

    But I'm glad to hear you've still managed to find time to write, even amongst your busy schedule!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks so much, Brett! I'm kind of the same way: sometimes inspiration just hits you and you've got to run with it; I have had some struggles in that some mornings I'm simply not feeling any creativity. It happens, no plan is absolutely perfect, you know? It's honestly kind of great, though, because I feel like I'm almost training myself to start getting something done in the mornings, whether it's writing, planning, etc.

      I hope you find some time to write, and good luck with it all!

  2. Love this! Being more disciplined with my writing is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. I haven't hardly had time to write with school :( I know getting up early would help but I hate it. I totally respect you for getting up at 5am!!!

    You've inspired me....I might have to try this, except maybe start with 7am so I don't die haha

    1. School is the devil when you're trying to find time for writing. It's the only reason I'm making myself get up so early! Besides, coffee's my best friend; I drink one cup right when I get up and start writing, and another about two hours later, when I'd normally be getting up and ready...then I need another cup right when the afternoon starts XD

      It's a challenge, but I love challenges; so far, I've been able to write every day, which was the goal!

      Thanks so much for your kind words, dear. And let me know how it goes if you do try to get up earlier!