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My Get Shit Done (but in a fun way) Writing Schedule

Since the pandemic, I have been in this strange position of writing and creating full-time. This has always been the goal, but certainly not how I envisioned it coming to fruition. I’ve spent ten years trying to find the perfect job that complements my writing.

Lida Literary
Lida Literary

by Natahna Bargen-Lema

Since the pandemic, I have been in this strange position of writing and creating full-time. This has always been the goal, but certainly not how I envisioned it coming to fruition. I’ve spent ten years trying to find the perfect job that complements my writing. Funny enough, just before COVID-19 hit, I had found it working as a part-time library assistant in the city where I live. A job that I actually liked, that paid the bills, and that gave me time to write? A miracle! It feels so bizarre that my working-part-time-and-writing milestone was eclipsed near-immediately with a full-time writing situation. I know this is only temporary, but if working and writing part-time is a miracle, then being home and writing full-time is akin to dying and going to heaven, if I get to skip the dying part and just live the dream life instead.

It’s been a relatively smooth transition moving from juggling working and writing to simply writing. I have no problem filling up my days and feeling productive, but I would be remiss if I did not point out (emphatically) that it’s been a process. If this time would have dropped in my lap two years ago, I’m not sure I would have handled it the same; but, I’ve paid my dues. From cobbling together stolen moments during lunch breaks, commute, and evenings, to setting aside most of my weekends, to finally biting the bullet and rearranging my entire schedule so I could get up at 5AM and write for at least two hours every day before work, I’m finally at a place where I’ve built up my endurance and self knowledge to a level where I know how to get shit done.

My main key for getting it done? Keeping it spicy with loads of variety. This means: having enough projects on the go so I can bounce around when I feel stuck, taking regular and mandatory breaks throughout the day where I move my body and do something different, and keeping lots of snacks on hand to give me something to look forward to all day long. I try really hard not to force anything. I refuse to muscle my way through any project; it’s more productive for me to pivot and come back later. The main killer of creativity is teaching yourself that it’s a chore. Forget that. How can you have fun again? That’s the only way you’re going to get shit done and keep getting it done.

So, let’s get to the brass tacks of it. What does my day actually look like? I’m going to outline my ideal day, which means this is what it often looks like, but not always. There has to be room for flexibility and grace in any schedule, even this one.

7:30 AM - Wake up, get dressed, make tea, and eat some breakfast.
8:00 AM - Check emails, make a schedule for the day (including scheduling in breaks), and do any urgent tasks like posting on Instagram or submitting a pitch. Also, do Flow writing (stream of consciousness/word vomit in designated google doc. Nothing can be written until Flow writing is done, approx. 500 words. This exercise helps me assess where I’m at and what feelings I’m bringing into the day).
8:30 AM - Get into some nitty gritty and do my toughest task of the day (I am a morning person, so my energy is highest in the AM. This time is set aside for any actual writing or other mentally tasking work).
10:00 AM - STRETCH AND SNACK BREAK. Leave my work space and go somewhere else to stretch for 15-30 minutes.
10:30 AM - Return to work space and either continue with big project already started that AM (ie. writing a new chapter of my novel, etc) or pivot to slightly simpler, but still energy-heavy, tasks like poetry writing or graphic design projects.

12:00 PM - LUNCH TIME. Take an hour, make a nice meal and read a book.
1:00 PM - Back to basics, after lunch I try to do easier tasks as my energy starts to wane. This is a good time for things like brainstorming new ideas, creating Instagram posts, or editing on-the-go projects. I’m very fluid about jumping around between several projects during this time.
3:00 PM - GET MOVING. Take an hour and go for a walk, dance around, or do a yoga practice. I love going for a walk at this time so that I can absorb some new sights and sounds. Podcasts or music are allowed, but silence and alone time with my own thoughts is preferred. A huge part of my writing/creating process is allowing my brain enough time and space to wander.
4:00 PM - I’m home. I’m refreshed. Anything else I do at this point is a bonus. I only do things that feel absolutely fun, simple, and refreshing. Lately I’ve been doing mini coding lessons during this time.

And that’s it, that’s all! Will this work for you? Who knows; but it works for me (usually), and that’s all that matters. If a full day of writing is still daunting to you, I would ask you this: what is the smallest amount of time you can commit to writing every day? Not the biggest, you’re not there yet. What is the smallest? Half an hour? Fifteen minutes? Five minutes? Start there. Remind yourself how much fun it is. Keep going. It’ll take over your life eventually.
All the best to you in all your creative endeavours. Now, let’s get shit done!