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Writing on a Schedule

This week’s question comes from Marge:

Do you write on a schedule?

When I first started, I wrote when inspiration struck. I contribute this to my starting in middle school and not having much of a life. So, when inspiration struck, I had the time available to sit down and devote an entire day to writing. The Curse of Atlantis was written this way, mainly during weekends and holidays.

I used to stand on my non-schedule platform and proclaim that I wanted to enjoy writing. I didn’t want it to become a chore. When I entered college, writing when “inspiration struck” became tricky. In fact, I would often have to deny myself the luxury of writing. For example, when I have a research paper due the next week, I couldn’t afford to spend an entire day writing. The more I got busy, the more I denied myself. And the more I denied myself, the less often inspiration would strike. The result was The Lord of Nightmares took two years to write and the sequel to the curse became stagnant after two years in the work field. I was stuck. I was no longer writing. And I was no longer a happy person.

I am a stubborn individual. Therefore, it took countless people telling me to write on a schedule until I finally gave in. It was two years ago now and I attended the Tony Hillerman conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. (Loved that conference.) But one of the things that struck me was a successful author stating even if you write ten minutes a day, at least you are writing. He called writing a perishable art. I could relate because, at that time, I had not written a creative sentence in at least four months.

I started writing ten minutes a day and that quickly expanded to twenty. I still allow more time when vacations come around. But now, I am very comfortable on the schedule. When I first began, my writing was stagnant and very tough to create. But, as I continued on the routine, what I found was inspiration became more controlled. It’s like my mind knew I would write when I woke up. Therefore, ideas would start to roll as I got dressed in the morning. And I never had to deny myself.

Sometimes I miss the days when inspiration would grab hold of me, increase my heart rate, and demand I release the words welling inside. I think that partly went away because I am older now–every emotion as a teenager is a little more heightened. But I have not fallen away from my passion for writing. It’s just passion that is more controlled. The control didn’t create a chore, but, rather, reserve time to satisfy my need to write. If anything deserves time set aside, it is writing.

So, in short, I do write on a schedule–even though if you knew me in high school this statement might shock you.

Keep the questions coming! I enjoy answering anything: Writing tips? Questions of on my stories? Anything you wish to ask an author? Click here and fill out the form. I will try to answer one every week.