Off-schedule

I have a schedule. I printed out a year-to-a-page calendar, and scribbled all over it for working on my current draft, so I can work on something brand new before getting down to the edits for next year’s release. And at the beginning of the summer, it felt easily achievable. Mostly because I wasn’t going anywhere or doing anything.

With the easing of lockdown restrictions, I’m becoming more sociable again. Which, on the one hand, is a relief because I was fearful my latent hermit tendencies were rising to the fore; but on the other, it’s throwing me off my schedule already!

Admittedly, it’s not the most comprehensive of plans, but I’m new to this! Next time I’ll use crayons too.

Some writers can see a ten minute window in their day and bash out 500 words. Not me. If I have ten minutes, I’ll pick up my current read, or play my turn on Scrabble Go, or make myself a cup of tea, or fold laundry. Because ten minutes never seems enough time.

This week, I really wish I’d utilised those fragments of time, because I’ve been hugely busy and had lots of fun, but my current project is sliding. Not a lot, but it’s meant I’ve allowed a few dodgy paragraphs and chapters to remain because I’ll be able to sort them out in the next draft.

How’s your time management? Do you have any tips?


I’ve got a little project in mind, and I need your help. I’d love to know what questions you’ve always wanted to ask an author but never have. They can be specific to me and my work, or something more general. I’d love to hear from writers, readers, people who’d love to write but don’t know how to get started. Anything at all (within appropriate boundaries, of course 😉)

Comment below, or email me, or comment on my website’s contact form.

13 thoughts on “Off-schedule

  1. I always have a to-do list, which is different every day. Unfortunately, without a set pattern, I don’t always manage time the best.

    Here’s a question I’ve not heard – what is the story you would LOVE to write if given the chance or you felt able to do it justice?

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    1. My to-do list is daily, my schedule goes all the way to the end of the year. Both are important – the to-dos get done, the schedule may get done 🙂

      Great question! If I don’t answer it in the format I hope to, I’ll definitely come back and answer it here!

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  2. Time is elusive for me. When I do get it, my husband’ll come into the room eventually and say, “You’re not done yet? You’ve been in here for two hours.” But in that time I’ve barely organized my thoughts and gotten two or three pages done. If I had from morning till night I think I could actually get something done.
    As for an author question, I’m always curious about this: if you could only have one, either reading or writing, which would you choose? In other words, you could only read other people’s stuff and never write again, or vice versa, only write and never read anybody else’s stuff ever again.

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    1. I’m in the lucky (and horribly awful) position of still being Covid-furloughed, so I have all day to write. My wonderful husband is sacrificing his time with me, and forlornly (with a huge smile on his face) playing endless PlayStation games!

      This week so far, I’ve had long stretches to write – my social life seems to come in bursts.

      Your question has me in a cold, cold sweat… what horror! It will be answered, in one format or another… watch this space 🙂

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  3. Hi Annalisa – yes Seliza’s question is rather daunting … a bit like would you rather be blind or deaf … a horror thought to put it mildly. I’ve been in my self-bubble and really am happy here – just slowly progressing on – I probably should put some speed into it now – but I’ll wait til the heat goes!! I’ll get there …

    I’ve found Grace and Serenity … so must give it a read soon … take care – and am glad you’re on furlough … Hilary

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    1. Yes, her question will take a lot of thought!

      I’m glad your happy – I think we all have to take the steps back to ‘normality’ at our own pace, There’s no precedent for this. I’ve only left my hometown a couple of times – I really have no need to go anywhere. And I never venture to the beach etc when the tourists are here – I’m really impatient in traffic jams 🙂

      Take care x

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  4. Ok, questions. How specific are the points on your schedule? Have you already worked out what you want to say, or do you just decide where certain plot points meet and what happens then is determined when you sit down to write?

    I have a blog with a single goal, to learn to write on a schedule. I have a vague novel in my head, but have only ever been able to write in bursts. That is why i am blogging. After I am more capable in that area I was thinking an outline was the next step to a novel. What I don’t know is how specific the outline should be.

    Any help would be appreciated.

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    1. Hey Joe. The schedule I’m discussing here is literally ‘finish this draft in August, move to new idea in Sept, edits for 3rd book in December’.

      I’m not much of a planner when it comes to what happens in my novels – it doesn’t suit the haphazard way my stories are written (ending, beginning, middle, new beginning, new ending, ending, beginning again…)

      You could try jotting down the general direction you want each chapter/scene to go. Spend a week or so just on that, perhaps – make it as detailed as you want (there are no right answers for this.)

      Then when you write the first scene, time yourself to see roughly how long it takes you – a morning, a whole day, more. From that, you could theoretically plan how long the whole novel would take.

      Personally, I’d find that takes the creativity out of my process. If you write in spurts, it might be because that’s your style. In which case, grab a folder and a refill pad and just write – the benefit of the folder over a notebook is you can re-order your chapters and scenes really easily.

      I hope this helps a little! Good luck.

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      1. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply like this. There is much about planning a novel that I don’t understand yet, despite my conviction that I can write. I think I am going to continue the narrative entries for a while and then use your advice about taking a week to plot. It seems sound to me.

        Quite a few writers drop hints about how they work. Kerouac said “you have to stay at it like a benny addict,” which he probably did. Vonnegut had a character talk about using a schedule. I think the schedule is the method I will have to use. I have other responsibilities besides writing.

        Again, thanks, and I will let you know how things go.

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        1. There are some good how-to books out there – I believe the one by Stephen King is quite good, but I’ve not read it.

          Just go with the flow, write the way that feels natural to you, and read a lot (in and outside of your genre). Half the battle of learning the ‘rules’ of writing is knowing when to break them 😉

          Good luck, and have fun!

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