By: Ebonye Gussine Wilkins
Every once in a while, people ask me what my writing schedule is as an author. It’s an interesting question, no doubt pulled from years of people sitting through writing classes or reading quotes about how other published authors get their books written.
I will be the first to confess, I have no writing schedule. At all. It’s probably ridiculous that I don’t.
Earlier in March, I was sitting in a workshop for novel writing, and the author was one who had traditionally published and had turned out at least a dozen romance novels since she started writing. I’m not entirely sure why I chose that workshop, as I have no interest in writing romance or going the traditional publishing route. I guess out of curiosity, I was wondering what other writers were going through and how they conquered their challenges.
*Disclaimer* It should be said that since my IFP (Intro to Fiction and Poetry) classes at Johns Hopkins, I hadn’t set foot in a writing class of any kind in well over a decade. I think writers who attend writing classes have a completely different view of writing and that’s fine, I just prefer to do things differently.
In an case, the author insisted that everyone needs a writing schedule and a writing plan (I work with neither) and that you will get hopelessly lost and never finish without one. I looked around and saw everyone else around me furiously writing notes and I just sort of sat there and thought about what she said.
Would a writing schedule force me to have discipline?
Would a writing schedule really make me write every day?
Would my creative juices just start flowing at the same time every day like a pre-programmed Keurig?
I wasn’t too sure about that. In fact, I know that for many writers, a writing schedule is immensely helpful and helps keep the writing moving forward. Writing at the same time every day for the same length of time every day can be helpful to some. All the time I hear stories about writers who woke up early in the morning to work on a project, or squirreled away some time when their kids were asleep. It definitely works for some, but I knew for a fact that wouldn’t work for me.
For me, writing on a firm schedule limits creativity. It is the equivalent of locking yourself away from the world and focusing on writing, talking to writers, and listening to what other writers say. My writing isn’t going to be my writing with a rigorous schedule and constant input from others. I get my inspiration from the real world, whether it is watching other people at the supermarket, or listening to jokes on a sitcom in the background or reading comments in forums from people who are totally different from me. That is what brings the inspiration and gives me ideas for material for my novels. My brain doesn’t organize information into a neat little to-do list that can wait for a particular time of day. If I need to write now, then then I need to write right now.
Have you found that a writing schedule helps you? Why or why not? Tell me about it in the comments.