In my June newsletter (if you'd like to receive my monthly news CatScratch, please sign up here) I set my readers a challenge.
Make a writing schedule for the week and stick to it.
I challenged them to do it for a whole month and see how they got on.
Now of course I wouldn't ask anyone to do something I wouldn't try myself, so here's how I did with my first week.
I decided to schedule work on my next book, a memoir about my Mom who passed away in 2010, on Monday and Wednesday for one hour, from 4pm - 5pm, Saturday morning from 10am - 11am (meeting a fellow writer at a local cafe, to write together for an hour, which would mean I'd have to show up as I'd hate to let her down) and then Sunday morning 10am -11am.
I got off to a great start, kept my date with my writing on Monday and Wednesday, even putting in some extra time both days. Great.
Saturday the weather wasn't very nice. My friend called to see if we should meet. I looked outside at the driving rain and we decided it was too horrid.
I got off the phone and thought well, I can write here anyway. Then the cat started throwing up, again, and again. Out with the carpet cleaner, the wet towels, etc etc. Cat howling outside the front door so he could come in and do it once more. Then I had to go up to the vet to get him more of his special food that settles his stomach. I thought, while I'm up here, I'll pick up some stuff from the grocery. Then I met another friend who said, 'How 'bout lunch?' so we did that.
So much for Saturday. That night I got a sore throat and by Sunday morning, it was all on with a head cold - dribbling, oozing, coughing, aching, sneezing, tissues everywhere.
"I can't possibly write," I said, throwing myself onto the couch to languish with a box of three-ply aloe vera infused tissues. "It's just not possible. I am too sick."
The moral of this story is: we have the best of intentions for our writing, but life gets in the way. If it's not the cat throwing up, it's the head cold. It's kinda how it is sometimes.
Rather than beat yourself up about not keeping to your schedule, realise that life can be like that and next week we can try again, and the week after that ... and onwards. Building the writing discipline isn't easy at first. Life, and the cat, can throw up the unexpected, and, by nature, we procrastinate ("It's just too wet to meet for coffee and write"), we latch onto opportunities not to write ("Lunch? Sure I'm free. Let's go"), and then of course when we don't feel 100%, that's a good excuse to just throw hands in the air and say, "I'm too sick today."
However, persevere with your schedule, try to stick to it despite the weather, the flu, the sick cat - if you plan an hour but can only manage 15 minutes, that's OK ... because it's showing up for your writing date that counts.