Schedule, Schmedule

Schedules work well – until they don’t anymore.

The problem is that schedules, like good habits, take a long time to become second nature and are very easily broken.  The fallout from a broken schedule can be numbing.

A schedule that is working well is wonderful.  It provides structure and focus.  The issues arise when life interferes and throws the schedule out-of-whack.   An interrupted schedule can lead to self-reproach.  Self-reproach can lead to inactivity.  Inactivity leads to more self-reproach.  This cycle of inactivity and self-reproach is a slippery slope, one that is hard to recover from.

This is what I am struggling with right now.  I had a great schedule, a schedule that was working and working well.  It accommodated all the priorities I needed it to – writing, business, even working out.   It wasn’t an easy schedule to figure out, it took lots of trial and error and a good helping of angst.  When I transitioned to running my own business after working full-time for nearly three decades; I found that I was too used to spending eight to ten hours per day on other people’s priorities.  I had to unlearn those habits and learn to focus on my own priorities.  It’s still ongoing, but I had reached a point where I had a working schedule.

It was wonderful.  I spent time with my writing every day.  The edits on my novel were chugging along.  I was working on the next installment in the series.  I was working on the list of agents I plan to query. The group blog was up and running.  I was even gathering new ideas and working on a short story.

Then we moved.  Aargh.  What can I say?

I am sitting amidst the piles of half unpacked boxes and struggling to resist the urge to beat myself up because I just can’t seem to get back into my writing schedule.  I still can’t find my external hard drive (which I know contained a really awesome post for the blog).  I’ve already missed two blog posts.  I haven’t even looked at my work-in-progress for FOUR weeks.

My wonderful schedule is probably still packed in a box somewhere.

But I’m not going to feel guilty about it any longer.  I just finished reading a section of one of my favorite books on writing – Telling Lies for Fun & Profit by Lawrence Block.  The whole book is fantastic (pick it up when you can) but this time around Part Two (Fiction as a Discipline) spoke to me the loudest.  In Chapter 16 Mr. Block discusses dry spells and the words that I needed to hear were these “I can always devise a schedule for myself that I am incapable of carrying out.”   Just the mere fact that such a prolific and esteemed writer experiences problems with expectations and life interrupting a set schedule – but still continues to write – gives me hope.

And hope is what I need right now.  Hope that this time around I’ll realize that the only worthwhile schedule is one that allows for life’s interruptions without breaking.

4 thoughts on “Schedule, Schmedule

  1. I definitely empathize with you. Having gone out on my own, then worked through a move (which 6 months later I am still doing), and renovated the new house, its tough. I struggle with a schedule all the time. I think flexibility is key for me although I find that if I have to move something like exercise or writing due to other demands that if I dont immediately re-schedule it, it gets lost. My schedule is a continuing work in progress. Good luck on finishing up the move and getting everything back on a track you feel comfortable with.

    • Flexibility is definitely key, as is the realization that every schedule is a continuing work in progress. After all, the only constant in life is change, right?
      I’ve been pondering this all weekend and had an epiphany of sorts. Staying on course with writing is like sailing. One doesn’t just head out in one direction, one has to tack to stay on track due to the wind and currents. Therefore small adjustments in schedule and priorities will help one stay on track with writing.

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