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August 21, 2012

Michelle Miles: Scheduling Your Writing

Remember how last month I talked about writing full-time? Yeah. So that didn’t work out. It seems my wonderful *cough* car *cough* has decided to break down. Two days before our family vacation to West Texas, the air conditioner broke. Kaput. Kaplooey. Done. Dead. Buh-bye. We drove the car anyway. It was so hot, I could have sworn even my eyeballs were hot. But we had a great vacation anyway.

Long story short the car needed repairs with a money amount that had a comma in it. Not a happy girl about that.

So I felt like I had to go back to work. Which, ya know, isn’t all bad. I did a lot of soul searching before accepting the job and realized that I really wasn’t ready, mentally or otherwise, to start writing full-time. The car repairs were an added bonus. *sarcasm*

But I’m not here to talk about that today. I’m here to talk about how scheduling your writing can save your life. Well, your writing life.

When I accepted the job and discovered I wouldn’t have to be there until 8:30 am, an idea formed. I decided in my infinite wisdom I would get up at 6 am and write for an hour and THEN get ready for work. I would also continue writing on my lunch hour. I started the new plan the day I started the new job. Hey, I figured they should go hand-in-hand.

I did manage to crawl out of bed at 6 am. It took me a few minutes to wake up and get into the story again so my actual writing time varied. I would do about forty-five minutes or around five hundred words. Turns out, I succeeded in writing over 5700 words for that first week. By the second week, I had managed nearly 7000 words. I love seeing the numbers rise and the progress happen. I’ve drafted the first three chapters of the new book and found that a book really doesn’t start to flow until you pass the 10,000 word mark. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because you can figure out your characters by then and you know where you’re going. I suppose that’s true for those of us who are Pantsers at heart. *wink*

The thing is I write better when I know I have a time limit. I know I have an end goal. Looking back on my floundering last month, I know that part of my problem was I didn’t schedule my writing. I hadn’t figured that out yet. I think if I had sat down at my desk and told my brain that I would be writing for XX amount of time, I would have been a lot more successful. I had the mentality of “I’m home all day I can write whenever.” Instead, I allowed myself to be distracted by email/Facebook/Twitter/Internet/petting the cat/whatever.

I’m disappointed in myself. But I know it’s ain’t over yet. I will be writing full-time one of the days. Now I have the insight to know how to make it work.

Michelle Miles is published in contemporary, paranormal and fantasy romance. Find out more about her books at her website at


Denise Moncrief said...

Having a set time of day to write has always worked for me...exept in the summer when my children are out fo school!

I think you're right about the 10,000 work mark.

And sorry about the air conditioner. West Texas, summer, and no air conditioning don't mix well.

Sylvia said...

You are so right about the 10,000 work mark and that's why I like the down and dirty approach to writing. I try to do the first draft without anyone looking at it or critizing it. Get the first draft down and then you can revise, edit, or rewrite. I get up at 5:30 every morning, but lately all I've done is promotion. I'm taking a class in September where the writer sets a timer and writes for 15 minutes regardless of what else she has to do. I think it's called Book Factory. It's time to get back to writing something new and fresh and not constantly editing.

Sorry to hear about the car. I would like to go part-time in January or maybe even retire. We'll see.

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hey, Michelle. You have a plan and are letting nothing distract from it and it is working. That is awesome.

As for the car...yeah, stuff happens. I had one that decided not to go into reverse. Velly intelesting.

Phyllis said...

When I've been unemployed, I figure I would get a great deal of things done. That was never the case. If I wasn't my own culprit, it was the Hubby..'can you do this, can you go there?'

Nor have I tried a writing schedule, when a scene or character hits me I pull out pen and paper where ever I am.

Happy for your new job and more word count. Congrats on all!

Jennifer August said...

Bummer on the car and I'm glad no one suffered heat stroke!
As a writer who has recently gone FT, I can empathize with your sudden "Ooh, shiny" syndrome. I get paralyzed by it a lot. I've recently developed a business plan that includes work hours. Like you, I decided a schedule was definitely needed. We'll have to see if it works. Good luck, Michelle, and super kudos for getting up early to write! And succeeding!

chris k said...

good heavens - if I had to get out of bed at that hour for anything, especially writing, even a grocery list would be incomprehensible!!

When I have to catch an early morning flight- i simply don't go to bed the night before! I do much better on a second wind than if I try and find a new wind at the crack of dawn!! lol

that said- good for you! as someone whose tombstone is going to quote John Lennon - Life is what happened while she was busy making other plans- :) - I think sticking to yours is a great accomplishment!! hoorah!

Pamela Stone said...

Hey, Michelle. Thanks for the warning as my last day is next Friday. I hope to schedule 4 hours per day, Mon - Fri to do nothing but write. Anything over that is a bonus. We shall see how that works out. After twenty-six years in corporate America, I certainly have some adjustments to make and am sure I'll flounder at times. But I am determined. Ha.

Sorry about the car, and West Texas. Can't even imagine.

PamnTX said...

Congratulation on your new job! I'm glad it came along when you needed it. I am more productive when I have structure and a deadline. My problem is when it's my structure and my deadline, I can talk myself out of it!
I can't jump out of the bed at 6:00am and write. I'm up at that time because my husband and son leave for work before 6:30, but I'm not creative or productive at that hour of the day! I envy your tenacity.
Pam P.

Michelle Miles said...

Thanks, all, for coming by! Sorry I didn't comment earlier but I have trouble commenting via the iPhone. It doens't play well with the comment form. :)

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Michelle,
Sorry about the car, but glad you had a good vacation! I'm like you, on my days off I have trouble writing due to the distraction syndrome. I'm going to have to make myself sit down and get in 4 hours. But I can't do it at 6AM so I admire that in you! Keep it up!!

Kathy Ivan said...

6 a.m.? Seriously? I am so not a morning person. I can barely roll out of bed and get to the day job on time, much less get up early to write, as much as I'd love to.

All my writing time is done in the evenings, usually after 9 p.m. It doesn't give me a lot of time to write, so I have to squeeze as much productive time into that small space as I can, but knowing that I have a set time to write does help.

Um, congratulations on the new job?!?

Nancy said...

Michelle! Bummer about the car, but I'm hapy to hear the vaca went well, and that you're not only in a new job, but are writing so productively. You rock! Thanks for your wisdom and the reminder that you and the commentors have provided about scheduling your writing. I've done that, fallen away, and must do it again!

Nancy Haddock