Tuesday I shared what gets me motivated to write--today I'm thinking about what I can do to hold myself to write. Having a schedule or goal or other expectation keeps you accountable to your work--and the best partner, I think, to creativity is accountability. We writers have a little problem most of the time during our writing careers: We aren't accountable to anyone but ourselves and the page--no boss, no time card, no nosy coworkers--so we have to create that accountability for ourselves. I want more of a schedule-based writing life, and a few ways of doing so have emerged for me:
1) The Clock Method. This one is basic--you clock in, you clock out. Your butt is in your chair for a set number of hours each day, hands on keyboard, writing.
2) The Goal Method. A little more flexible, but also, in my opinion, harder to hold yourself to. You have a daily (or, depending on your schedule and lifestyle, weekly) writing goal, and you meet it by scheduling yourself to complete it when you have time. One day it might be first thing in the morning, another it's staying up late to finish. Regardless--your goal is your taskmaster, not the clock.
3) The Task Method. Like the goal method, but instead of a specific word count, you have a task that needs to be completed, and you set yourself to doing it until it is done. Maybe you use this when you have a scene that's giving you problems--you set aside time to get it done, and you're not budging until it's finished. Or maybe you've set aside a weekend to barrel through some editing. It wasn't about a word count or the amount of time you spent butt-in-chair, but about getting a specific job done.
So which method works the best? It probably depends quite a bit on your lifestyle and your work style. Some people work best with a regimented schedule; for others, it's not going to happen with a hectic work and family life, or they feel tied down by a time card, even if it's an imaginary one.
Often the Clock Method is advocated for those who want to "take themselves seriously" as writers, and I can see the wisdom here. Your WIP is your boss, and you're showing it respect by getting to work on time.
I've never had the schedule ability to try to use the Clock Method. Until recently, I was working full time and had about a bazillion other things I was responsible for, too--that happened at all different times of day, so a set schedule was never possible. I'm still responsible for a lot of stuff, but I'm no longer working full time (this is a "yay" thing, by the way, not an "oh crap" thing), so I want to try to hold myself to more of a schedule.
So! Starting next week, I'm going to be a Clock-er. We'll see how it goes. I'll keep you posted--I have a feeling I'll either love it or beg you all to let me off the hook.
And speaking of schedules--having a schedule for social media is a good idea, too. For one, it keeps you responsible for the things you want to be doing on blogs and Twitter...and for another, it keeps you responsible for avoiding those time-wasters that you don't want to get sucked into. Here on the blog, I'll be posting Tuesdays and Thursdays, and, when the time permits or the fancy strikes, over the weekend.
Do you have an accountability method for your writing? Have you ever tried one that didn't work?