March 3, 2009

A sample (fun?) writing microschedule


You might like to experiment with how to schedule your writing sessions within each day (that's why I called it a "microschedule"). I always recommend relatively shorter sessions, alternating with breaks if you want to write more. Of course, you will need to read and research also at some point. For many, it works to research later in the day, since this more passive activity is easier for most than is writing. But reading sessions could also be scheduled alternately with writing sessions.

A current client was trying to figure this out, plus struggling with anxiety and resulting writer's block. We had her free writing where she wrote about her fears and confusion about the work, then we had her moving into very short "focused writing" sessions. Here is how she scheduled her sessions recently:

1. 8-min block freewriting
2. 18-min focused writing
3. 15-min background research
4. 18-min focused writing
5. 15-min background research
7. 8-min freewriting/reflection

She did this all before noon, felt she had accomplished a lot, and even ended with the comment, "This was fun!" How often do you feel that way about the writing process?

Here is what she added:
I find it works quite well for me because it provides different, equally legitimate opportunities for different kinds of activities (and associated anxieties/gratifications that balance each other out to some extent), all related to the project. In a way, the research is almost like a reward for me, because I like looking things up and learning them. I'd be surprised if this isn't also true for lots of other blocked writers. I guess the trick is to give it some defined boundaries, like we give other treats and like we give the anxiety-inducing activities. I then find that, having done a bit of research, I have a couple of extra things to add to my notes or to my focused writing pages, and that is gratifying.

Play around with your writing scheduling. Using a timer, as always, is key. Maybe at some point you'll find it fun. But you'll probably accept "not so bad."

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