May 09, 2020

Schedule Writing Time by Steph Beth Nickel

The Downside of a Detailed Schedule

"Create a routine and stick with it."

As an eclectically interested and eclectically involved individual, this is among my least favourite pieces of advice.

I love To-Do lists. I make To-Do lists. In fact, I've begun dividing my list into three columns: Yes, Hopefully, and I Wish.

I've prioritized the items on my list. However, one thing you won't find is a specific time to begin each task. 

Be creative ... now.

Engage your logical, rational brain ... now.

Complete Task X ... now.

That just sounds SO HARD to me.

But ...

Beware the Books You Read

I recently downloaded an audiobook by Anne Janzer, The Writer's Process: Getting Your Brain in Gear.

And, wow! Just wow! 

What does neuroscience have to do with the writing process? As it turns out, a lot.

Among many other interesting topics, the author discusses the Scribe and the Muse and how to activate both contributors to the process.

She discusses the importance of both focus and giving ourselves a break, the importance of listening to the wisdom of others and of coming apart from the input of others, including social media and the Internet, to allow our brains to mull over any given project.

Janzer also explores the importance of triggering our mind to let it knows it's time for this or that task. I am going to begin implementing much of what I'm learning, including giving myself these cues.

The author applies the principle of developing a mindset that increases productivity, which will lead to more words written and more tasks crossed off our To-Do list.

These topics and others covered in The Writer's Process is the reason I highly recommend the book and am considering purchasing a physical copy as well as re-listening to the audiobook.

Options for Organizing Your Schedule

Create a detailed schedule, including what you want to accomplish and the time of day you will devote to each task.

Prioritizing those things you want to accomplish and working on them in descending order of importance.

Create a simplified list of no more than three things you want to get done each day. Anything else you accomplish is a bonus.

Of course, there are many other options.

Surrendering the Oh, Squirrel! Approach

I used to call it the Butterfly Syndrome, flitting from one thing to the next to the next. And believe me, that is still a big temptationone I often fall prey to.

But it does feel to motor through until a project is complete—at least a specified segment of the project.

It's time to stop allowing myself to be distracted by the countless things I want to achieve and buckle down.

Does that mean I won't continue to pursue a variety of projects and opportunities? Absolutely not! But as I devote sufficient time and mental energy to one task at a time, I am bound to achieve far more.

How about you? Do you prefer a strict schedule or one with lots of flexibility?

And how about writing? Does it make it onto the schedule? Do you set aside lengthy chunks of time to write or do you fit it into the margins of your life?


  1. Hi Beth. I prefer flexibility but I love your to do list with 3 columns of, yes, hopefully and I wish. I do have a wish list that I consider my bucket list. I can relate to the squirrel in the room. I wonder if it's because I'm flexible. Do I surrender to the squirrel more easily? It is a cheerful little critter and I do love to watch him play and enjoy life. Great post!

  2. OOPS there's the squirrel - for some reason I called you Beth and not Steph. My apologies.

  3. I've been addicted to pretty planners for quite sometime. But those squirrels still get me! I once did a productivity schedule but felt like I was chocking every time I looked at it. lol! This books sounds great. I'd love to learn how to finish well!

  4. I'm delighted that you found the ideas in The Writer's Process helpful, Steph. Thanks for recommending it to others. I hope it helps you do more writing!

  5. This book sounds like something I'd like to read. I'm a sucker for planners and schedules, but I've found that flexibility within the framework works best for me.

  6. Would love to read this book and be able to make schedule in my unscheduled world, not that I don't try. But maybe this is possible with a little creativity and determination. Thanks, Steph.


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