I'm the kind of person who loves sitting down to write. Sure, it might take me a little while to open the document and actually get started (I'm sure it's the same for many of you), but once I'm in my story, it can take a lot to pry me away. I've never really had a proper schedule - my plan was more just write, write, write... often until my fingers wanted to fall off. Does this sound familiar? Are you the same?
Hate to tell you, but I've discovered a lot of problems with this type of plan:
1. You feel guilty All. The. Time. if you have free time and you're not writing. You shouldn't have watched that episode of How I Met Your Mother! You should have been writing! There could have been an extra thousand words done in that time!
2. You often can't simply sit down for short writing breaks. Often you need to carve a chunk out of your day to feel successful.
3. The amount of writing you do (even 15k in a day!) doesn't feel like enough.
4. You can burn out. Badly.
5. Maybe the most important reason: It's quite possible that the reason you're writing so much isn't for the joy of writing - it's to get it finished. Getting it finished means you're ready for the next round. It means you can send it to betas. It means it's that much closer to being ready to query.
For those who've been following, you know why this is a problem. This kind of mindset means you're not writing for pleasure. You're writing to get published. And that leads to all kinds of new issues.
I've started setting myself a writing schedule (a chapter a day), and here's what's changed about my writing - and my life - so far:
1. I actually have time for other things. Relaxing! Reading! Watching television! Spending quality time with the boy! Accompanied by NO GUILT!
2. I've slowed down to enjoy the writing process. Each chapter has my full attention, because I don't have to worry about the next chapter until tomorrow.
3. Spacing my writing out means I have plenty of time to ponder over things that might happen in my story during the day. I've come up with lots of new ideas that might not have occurred to me if I'd ploughed through my WiP without that stopping time.
4. The health benefits! My fingers and back don't hurt so much because I don't spend hour upon hour at the computer.
5. Extra time for blog posts! :D
The great thing is, this works if you're a pantser OR a plotter. When you've plotted your story, you know what scene to write next and you're ready to go as soon as you open your document. If you have no idea where you're going with your story, you have extra time to think about what happens next because you'll stop after finishing the chapter. There's no pressure to continue right then and there.
It's kind of like exercise. Regular writing without over-exerting yourself can lift your game, rather than tumble it. Give it a go!