by Peggy Bechko
Okay, so here is where everyone is going to yell at me. I’m going to say a very dirty word (at least in some circles). Ready? Here it comes:
I don’t know where it ever got started that writers are freewheeling I-don’t-know-whats and that writing can be done on the fly and it’ll all somehow come together like a little miracle. Really? Helloooo!
So here’s the thing. If a writer truly wants to accomplish anything, to actually begin and finish the writing project, something called routine and organization has got to enter into the equation.
First of all let’s tackle organization. Yes, your desk needs to be somewhat tidy. I’m not saying perfect, obsessive-compulsive, but at least organized to the point where you can find things easily (however that works for you), same goes for your computer and the file folders in it. If you spend most of your time hunting for something it’s that much less time you have for your writing. Why do I have to tell you this?
Don’t use the old, tired argument that YOU know where everything is and if the desk is tidied you won’t be able to find anything…ever again. If you can’t imagine the look on my face, I’m rolling my eyes right now and curling my lip. Seriously. And in our beloved digital age one would think you wouldn’t have as much stuff piled up on your desk as in past years when research notes, charts and whatever else a writer had for a story were all strewn to the four winds across whatever open space there was.
Yes, your desk can be cluttered and maybe even messy. You may even have snacks and a coffee cup at hand, maybe a bottle of bourbon, I don’t know. But, whatever it is, get the clutter organized enough to be able to find things. You’re welcome.
Okay, so back to that dirty word, routine. I’ll just stand back now why a bunch of you scream about how a routine is restricting and you have to write whenever the ‘inspiration’ strikes and how setting writing hours just won’t work for you because blah, blah, blah. Humming a little tune while I wait. So, finished?
Now, here’s the reality. If you don’t set a schedule and guard those hours you set aside for writing progress will be slow to non-existent. There are some writers who set a page count for the day (I think Stephen King is one of them, but don’t quote me on that), there are those who set hours. Whichever or both.
For those who have ‘day jobs’ the hours is usually the best method, and you can set a page goal during that time if you like. So, maybe get up an hour earlier and write before you go to that job. Or determine there’s an hour right when you get back from the day job where you’ll work on your writing job. Do it. It will become habit and the pages will start to stack up. If you specify a certain amount of time and focus your intent it’s amazing what you can accomplish. Three or four pages a day and a script can be done in a month. Four or five pages a day and a manuscript can be done in two or three.
If you’re writing full time out of your home office it’s even more important to apply organization and routine. It’s far too easy to slip off web surfing, answer the kid’s every demand, or go play fetch with the dog and have the day evaporate. Treat it like a job. Determine the best time for you to actually write, and use the rest of the time for research and whatever writing-related chores are necessary. Oh, and at times you may have to add overtime.
The basic message here is if you don’t organize yourself, set yourself a routine, who will? And that being the case just exactly how much of your incredible talent are you going to waste in doing nothing?
Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and don’t forget Peggy’s wonderful blog. Whew! Busy woman!