Monday, February 13, 2012

Make A Writing Schedule And Stick To It

The success of many authors out there stems from having a rigorous writing schedule. No, this does not mean marathon writing sessions, but a strict schedule that they simply do not deviate from. Professional writing is about dedication and if you want to be successful, you cannot let things get in your way.

Far too often, I hear writers make "excuses" for why they couldn't write on a given day. This is simply not going to cut it when you have a writing deadline and an editor is awaiting that next story on her desk.

Now, with that said, I have to say right now that this is, again, one more case for being a plotter and not a pantster. Just saying you are going to write something today is not going to work. You have to know how much is going to be finished at the end of each writing period and that needs to be decided on BEFORE you start writing.

Along the same lines, you cannot say I am going to get this piece of writing done "today" but you need to have that piece of writing done during the writing period that you set out. This means you are talking about hours not days.

One thing that is often a "turn off" for an agent is when I hear the writer took 3 years to finish a project. Really? And if your first book is really that good, will A) your readers want to wait another three years for you to get off your but to finish that next story; and B) would they even remember who you were? The odds are, the answer to both of those questions is no.

The simple fact is... schedules work and schedules are needed. Now, if you are in this as a hobby, then you can ignore this post and I'll talk to you tomorrow.



  1. Awww come on, Anonymous - Scott doesn't have to write these posts. Stop reading if you feel his occasional typos discredit his wisdom. I'm just glad he carves out the time in his day to teach and inform us.

    Thanks, Scott, for keeping the bar of excellence high for us and detailing the discipline needed to write professionally.

  2. Anon,

    Thank you for the comment. Yes, I do make typos like many authors who send me manuscripts. I took care of the edits and I appreciate the second look.


  3. Agreed! I find it a little easier to set a weekly quota, though. That way, if for some reason I do lag a little bit one day, I can make it up throughout the rest of the week and still be on schedule. Things just get done more reliably that way, and after a while the schedule becomes routine, helping you learn to write even when you don't feel particularly inspired--which you're going to have to do if you're doing this as more than a hobby.

  4. I must have missed the Anon post, or it must have been deleted since I don't see it. But by the sounds of it, seems uncalled for.

    Now what I do wonder is this... I sat down and wrote a first draft in two months, which I hear is the norm (2-3 months). I'm currently in that 'let it sit and marinate' stage, and it's now been three weeks. Am I supposed to be writing another book in the meantime?

    Or am I to understand 'consistent writing' to be about getting the book I am working on completed, and not getting started on another project?

    Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated Mr. Eagan (and others),


  5. I AM one of those writers that are just in this for a hobby. However, I really like your blog, and always find inspiration in it to improve my writing. So, thank you for writing it. :)

  6. Rashad,

    Personally, I question the need to let a story "sit and marinate." If you have planned out the story then you should be good to go.
    As far as sitting down and writing a new story, I would say yes. What are you doing when that story is just sitting there? Keep writing!

    And yes, the other message was deleted. Not that it was offensive, I just took care of the problem. No need to clutter the blog with stuff that has been taken care of.

    And again, thank you for Anon, for catching the errors. I do appreciate the second set of eyes!


  7. I hear what you're saying, but I question whether or not it is really a bad thing that the first book takes a few years to perfect. It takes time to develop craft, and most people starting out don't write full-time.

    I write every day, but with three kids under five it's not like I can cut out an hour or two block of time completely focused on writing. I think, though, that by the time my WIP is in the condition where I would feel ready to submit: 1. my kids will be a bit older and not need constant supervision 2. I will have the benefit of experience and not need as much time to write the second book.

  8. Scott,

    You said:
    "Personally, I question the need to let a story "sit and marinate." If you have planned out the story then you should be good to go."

    Many writers say you should let a story sit for weeks, if not months, before you go back to edit it, but it seems you disagree.

    Do you mind writing a small blog post, explaining how you feel about this? (or give a link if you already have, as I haven't read all you posts?)