I used to sit and wait for inspiration to strike before I started writing.
I spent more time thinking about the fact that I wasn’t writing than actually writing.
There was always something else that I should be doing—another email that needed replying to, another meeting I needed to attend or a cupboard I needed to clean.
Now I know that writing belongs on the calendar. Here’s why.
You flex your writing muscle
Writing is a skill that can be learned like any other. The more you practice, the better you get.
By having regular writing sessions on your calendar and sticking to them, you will start to flex your writing muscle and see your writing improve over time.
You create good habits
Once you realise that Wednesday and Friday mornings are your writing times or that every evening you write from 7-8 pm, writing at these times will become second nature.
Establishing good habits means that you cut out decision making and make it easier to do the ‘difficult’ tasks.
Humans are inherently lazy and that’s why established habits are easy to follow (just make sure the habits you establish are the good ones).
Ever heard of habit stacking? Habits work even better if you can combine them with something else.
Maybe you decide your writing time is every Tuesday and Friday evening while you wait for your son to have his swimming lesson. That’s habit stacking.
Instead of automatically scrolling through your phone when you take your place at the poolside, you’ll get used to taking your laptop and writing 1000 words every week. In no time at all you’ll have written the first draft of your ebook.
You start to look forward to your writing sessions
Practice something regularly and you’ll see yourself making progress. It will start to become more enjoyable.
If you’re like me, the longer I put off a writing task, the more onerous it becomes.
When I was writing my doctoral thesis, I could see the entire thing looming ahead of me like a dark cloud.
After I started to put writing in my calendar, I could see the word count ticking up and I started to enjoy working gradually through those chapters.
You set achievable deadlines
When you have writing on your calendar, it becomes easier to see how that project is going to get finished.
You can predict how long it will take you to write certain sections of your book and will be able to meet your goals.
Other people will know that you are busy
This is a biggie for anyone with other people in their lives who tend to stop them writing— sometimes even unbeknownst to those people!
Before I started to put writing on my calendar, my boss could look at my calendar and any unblocked space could be seen as bookable time. It was the same if someone asked me to meet for a coffee or to run an errand for them.
Now that I have writing on my calendar, I can say ‘I can’t sorry—I’m busy’, without feeling like I’m making a lame excuse.
And this works even better when I have my writing group meeting or am meeting a writing accountability partner. Make your writing the ‘real’ commitment it deserves to be.
So are you ready to put writing on your calendar?
If you are serious about your writing and want to finish a project, don’t just think that you’ll write someday when you have time or when you think of something to write. That day may never come.
Have objectives for your writing and set deadlines. Plan out your chapters for your book. Meet with other people to write.
Are you ready for the challenge? Take out your calendar now and work out when you can fit five 25 minute sessions into the next week. Think about your daily routines and about your own circadian rhythm. When do you find it easiest to get into your creative flow?
Try writing at different times and see what works for you.
But don’t use your circadian rhythm as an excuse not to write just because you have things scheduled at your naturally most creative times.
I always classed myself as a ‘morning’ writer. Then I joined a writing group that met in the evening. I was amazed at how much I got done in those sessions. I used to think my brain was no good for anything apart from vegging in front of Netflix or reading a book in the evening. But now I know I can write then too.
If you want some extra accountability to put writing on your calendar, check out my social writers’ membership talk.write.done. We have fortnightly accountability meetings, guest speaker sessions and workshops once per month.
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