Writers Don’t Do Schedules

I have always struggled to keep to a schedule. For years, I was a chronic oversleeper and late owl. It’s only in my post-school world that I’ve managed to shoehorn my poor timekeeping skills into the rigid mold of “adult” schedules. It’s a challenge for me to keep at it. Waking up early in the morning, getting to work a little early (instead of rushing in late) and forcing myself to sleep at a reasonable hour. For some reason, my brain doesn’t like those things, especially when it comes to writing.

My creative powers wax and wane sporadically. Inspiration strikes at the oddest — and most inconvenient — moments. In the middle of a meal, on the way to work, my subconscious will produce a snippet of dialogue or the opening line of a short story. As much as I would like to put the world on hold in those moments, I have to jot it down in my notebook to revisit later.

For several months, I had a nice setup. I was taking the train to work and had 80 minutes a day to write. Over time, I trained myself to channel my creative impulses into that time frame. I was remarkably prolific, writing a novella, a three-act play and five short stories during my commute. I’ve never written so much so quickly.

I’m starting to suspect there’s something to this schedule thing. As much as the subconscious creative process yearns for freedom, I think it also secretly hungers order. It can be trained. You can teach it that these are the times when we go to work. Eventually, just like exercise or learning a musical instrument, you get into the habit of writing at a set time.

Now, I have a new job with a new schedule. Which means finding a new time to funnel my uneven creativity into meaningful projects. Thank goodness for Google Calendar…

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Jonny Eberle is a writer and schedule rebel in Tacoma, WA. You can read his latest story on Creative Colloquy and follow him on Twitter.

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