Monday, January 4, 2016

How Flexible Should You Make Your Writing Schedule?

One of the biggest draws to starting a full time writing career is the idea that you can set your own flexible schedule. The truth of the matter is, you can either be flexible and write part time or you can maintain a schedule and write full time. If you want to succeed at being a full time writer, you will need to ditch the flexibility and stick to a schedule.

The Problems with Flexibility

When I first decided to write for a full time income, I didn't set hours. I worked when I could, as I could. Relatives and neighbors would stop in nearly every day and assume that since I was writing and working from home I could stop and start my work whenever I wanted. Because I did not set hours for myself from the beginning, I felt myself being pushed in all directions.

When I finally had enough, I set my hours and began trying to enforce them. I tried talking to the biggest offenders about my need to work and keep a schedule. Their reaction ranged from anger to incredulous to understanding. I faced a lot of anger when I made the change to working on a schedule. Some relatives thought I was being rude when I told them I could not stop working to go here or there with them. They were incredulous that I considered my writing career a full time job ("Writing isn't a real job."). One person, out of the bunch, took the time to understand my position and began to respect my schedule. For the record, my kids supported me 100% and gave me the time I needed to write. They were the most understanding people out of all the adults.

If I could go back in time, I would have begun my writing journey with a set schedule and enforced it from the start.

What a Set Schedule Means

Treat your writing career like a job and a business. Give yourself work hours, just like you would have at any other job. Treat your work as you would a business by showing up at the right times, giving your work the best effort you can, and by actually caring about what you do.

This doesn't mean you can't take time off to take the kids to the dentist or attend a family picnic. You set your hours and you decide what days you can have off. This is where the real flexibility comes in. You schedule your 8 hours of work time a day. If there is an appointment, you either make that your off day or you work for 5 hours and make up the remaining three hours on an off day. You keep to your plan of working a certain amount of hours of week and you create the schedule that works best for you and your immediate family.

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