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Of Writing Plans, Schedules, Changes & Interruptions

freelance writing schedulesWriting schedules are important, and they change. Listen to me over time and you’ll probably end up thinking I’m pretty highly organized. After all, I tell writers how to find time to writeand how to establish a writing routine, all based on my own experience.

I really do use the tools I recommend. I have a daily schedule and I make myself accountable  bookending and accountability partners. (We have a whole accountability thread on the 5 Buck Forum – some think it’s worth it just for that!)

All of this is fine in practice and in theory, at least until the writing schedule blows sky high.

I began to get off course last week when I found myself shopping for clothes instead of writing. Why? Because I was speaking at the First Annual Ghostwriters ConferenceThen there was the conference itself which was a blast, helpful and wiped me out completely. Monday I still wasn’t totally present and figured that today I could play catch up – great plan, but it just didn’t happen.

A project scheduled for tomorrow has gotten postponed but the postponement required two fairly lengthy phone calls as we figure out how we can minimize the delay.

A friend needed some printing done and since I was headed for the market I dropped it off on my (almost) way by. Then I realized my car needed gas – I barely made it back for another scheduled phone call.

And a new gig has come asking for a 24 hour turnaround.

Here’s my approach when my schedule goes off the rails.

Several deep breaths are absolutely first. If, as happened today, I hadn’t gotten breakfast, I make sure I eat before I make any decisions.

Then it’s triage.

I put the groceries away.

I pick and choose based on what’s most important to me – which isn’t always what will bring in the most money. It’s important to me that I get this blog written regularly so here I am.

I told the client I could have the project by tomorrow afternoon, not tomorrow morning, and if that wasn’t okay to let me know asap.

When I finish this and get the newsletter out I’ll actually do the next thing I had scheduled, which is to work on the sales pages for an upcoming class I’m presenting on getting your book finally written.

Then, after a coaching call, I’ll begin work on the new project – if I’m lucky I’ll actually get it finished today – more likely I’ll send it off tomorrow.

That will be plenty for today.

I’ve learned not to burn myself out trying to catch up or by pushing too much – it just means the next day I’ll be able to do less than I like.

While my scheduling truly helps and I recommend it for any freelance writer, I also know that there are times when the schedule just won’t work. Usually the upset is only for a week or less. If it goes much longer it probably means I need to change my schedule.

Life really is a balancing act; we are the experts on our own lives and it’s up to us how we use the time we’re given. Every interruption this week has been because of something I value and worth all the confusion. Go gently with yourself.

How do you set your writing schedules? What happens when your schedule goes awry? How do you get back on track?

If you found this article helpful please share it with your network – it helps me, and thanks.

Image: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by alberth2

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • You’re done getting everything together and you can start right now. But if not right now, then tomorrow. Whatever you do, don’t plan to start on a distant day. Your plan should be so easy that very little can get in the way of your daily progress, so if you’re not ready to start tomorrow then you need to go back and figure out how to make your plan simple enough to do so. This process works because it creates good work habits, doesn’t require much of you, demonstrates your progress visually every day, and makes you feel incredibly accomplished and productive despite only working for a short period of time. It’s easy, it’s fun, and if it’s something you want to do you should do it now. There’s no reason to wait.
    Carlo S. Robbins recently posted..No last blog posts to return.My Profile

  • Suzanne

    Yes, why do I help others so much? Because it is important to me! But you have to keep from making yourself crazy in the process, and earn a living…

  • Great post, Annie. I hope you get back on schedule soon.

    When my schedule goes off track, the first thing I do is step back and make a list of everything I need to catch up on then I begin prioritizing. It usually takes me two days to fully catch back up but once I do, I feel great.

    • I know… I’m looking forward to being all caught up. It does feel good.

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