Don’t like math? Skip this article, then, because figuring out a writing schedule to stay productive involves a few numbers.
The key to a productive writing life is scheduling. And the best way to schedule your writing and stick to it is to determine your yearly goals first.
How prolific do you want to be?
Some people take years to write a novel; others take months. Some writers like Stephen King are incredibly prolific while others may crank out "one and done." You must decide for yourself how prolific you want to be. This is an entirely subjective element of creating your own writing schedule.
Let’s say you want to write and publish a book a year. That means you have 12 months during which you need to draft, rewrite/edit, publish, and market your book. Now to figure out how much time to allocate to each phase.
How much can you write every day?
You may think 4 months to write a 75,000 word book isn’t achievable. Let’s run some numbers to see.
Most writers can pound out 1,000 words in an hour. If you take your writing time seriously, you should be able to spend an hour a day on your writing during the week. That means you’ll have written 5,000 words a week.
Thus, it will take you around 15 weeks to write your novel. So right around 4 months, give or take a few for the vagaries of life.
How much time will you spend on editing?
You should set your manuscript aside for two weeks or even a month before you work on revisions. Just like with your writing schedule, try to assign hours per day you can work on editing. If you can only stick to an hour a day for your writing career, you can edit your manuscript in about 4 months, too.
That leaves 4 months left for you to publish and market your book. This is very do-able, especially if you self-publish and have an author platform and a marketing system in place already. If not, you may need a little extra time to set this up, but that’s best left for another post.
Setting up your production schedule
Now let’s say you have a list of projects you’d like to tackle. Choose the ones most important to you, the ones that will enhance your writing career, and those that will be the most profitable. And then get a handy calendar ready.
You must mark your most important commitments first, like those to your family, day job, etc. Also mark firm dates like when you’ve scheduled vacation, when you need to travel for work, and others. Now fill in the calendar with your production schedule.
What’s the best time of day for you to write? We have an interesting article, "Are You a Night Owl or an Early Bird?" that can help you figure out your best time to write.
Let’s say, just for example’s sake, that you’re most creative first thing in the morning. That means that you’re better able to tackle left-brained activities like research, editing, and marketing in the afternoons.
Depending on how prolific you want to be, you can have multiple projects in different stages of production going at the same time.
An example of a production schedule
Let’s say you’ve finished a manuscript, and it’s ready for editing. You spend an hour in the afternoons editing your completed work… but don’t forget you still have an hour of writing each morning. Time to turn your attention to your next project.
If you can compartmentalize your work, you might work on different projects in separate phases. Here’s what your daily schedule could look like:
- Mornings: Creative writing on the third book in your series
- Mid-morning: Revising and editing the second book in your series
- Afternoon: Publish and market your first book
This is an aggressive production schedule. At best, it's prolific. At worst, it’s a nightmare of juggling too many things at once. You can only do what works for you.
But if you want to treat your writing like a career, you need a production schedule that lets you work on different phases each day. This will help you produce more work in a shorter time and keep your readers expecting your next novel coming soon.
Your writing schedule helps you produce. If you can turn out a manuscript in 4 months, you can publish 3 books a year. And you’ll only get faster the more you work on schedule. But more importantly, you’ll get better with each book you produce.
This is how a production schedule lets you see—in black and white—how sticking to it can help you reach your goals and dreams of publishing.