You may or may not be a “perform to a schedule” type of writer. Largely, this will depend on who you are, how you write, and what you’re writing. For example, if you are writing poetry, there’s a good chance that you’re scratching your head about this suggestion – unless, of course you owe manuscript revisions by a certain date. But if you’ve promised a business that they’ll have an entire website worth of content in three weeks, you (and the client) will be well served knowing exactly how you’re going to get there.

No matter what type of writing you’re doing, whether there is an external deadline or not, a schedule can help. I have come to appreciate schedules as little maps of the possible to guide us in the deep and sometimes overwhelming waters of time. I make a treasure map for arriving at the doorstep of this finished book on the date I promised myself. When taken out of its romantic mood lighting, this map is simply a schedule.

What I mean by a schedule, for something like a book, is that I set both targets and timing. Let’s say the book has twenty chapters, and I plan to write one chapter per week over the course of twenty weeks, then spend the last four weeks revising. I’d block off in my computer calendar the hours I expect to spend writing that chapter each week.  For me, the greatest value of this process is having hard proof that there are actually enough hours in my life to accomplish what I have set out to do.

When I see those orange blocks of “write book” time floating through the days and nights of my computer calendar, a sense of calm comes over me. I can see my path of progress; I can trust it will get done. And even if I don’t choose to stick to the schedule in a given week, or ever, I still have that visual map of how my current life could shift to accommodate something new – and a general sense of what will be required of me to make that happen. And that lends confidence and comfort as I enter the unknown.

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