Make a Writing Timetable

Essential time away from HubPages

Whenever I return to my novel manuscript I feel guilt. Guilt that punches me in the chest and winds me, rips open my abdomen and pulls out my entrails, stamps on them, twists them around, and stuffs them back into the cavity, stitches me back up with a rusty needle and then leaves me to my pain.

Perhaps that is a wee bit exaggerated, but actually it shouldn't be: I deserve to feel guilt. Here am I, sitting on a little gem of a young adult fantasy novel, if I do say so myself, and I am not getting it finished. And I am not alone am I? Come on, let's have a show of hands now... who will admit to slacking for no good reason? Who will admit to sitting down with their notebook and pen, or their chosen brand of computer, fully intending to write a good thousand words and make some headway into the story, when they begin to drift off into daydreams? I'll be the first to say that I am a slacker, and that if an idea for a new hub (such as the one I am writing now, for instance!) begins to flutter around the edges of my consciousness, I will open the window wide and let it fly in, I will feed it and pet it and encourage it to stay. All the while, my novel sits neglected in the corner of the room, by now well used to having to retreat into the shadows when a more self-assured little bird calls in.

Well, shame on me. Shame on me for damaging my novel's self-esteem so badly. Shame on me for being such a bad parent, for leaving my novel-child alone in a darkened drawer for weeks on end, while I play and have fun and devote hours and hours to hubs that will never put food on the table. My novel lies battered and bruised; in fact, let's be brutally honest - I have treated it VERY badly, practically to the point of mental abuse. I'm surprised that it hasn't just up and left actually.

And let me tell you about my novel. It is beautiful, and the first three chapters contain large slices of my heart and soul. Now, I am not saying that it is a work of literary genius, because it certainly is not. It is a fanciful story that probably not many people will want to read. But I want to read it. I want to write it, bind it beautifully and read it to my children. It does not matter to me whether this story is published (I do not think it is marketworthy at all), I only want to finish it for myself. (Hey, that's not to say that if a publisher wants to hand me large wads of cash for it and translate it into forty-seven languages I'll say no!) It makes me happy to work on it, and it makes me happy to read it back to myself.

But it is difficult to write this novel (as it is to write any novel, obviously). The words do not simply flow from me like a mountain stream after a storm. I have to work hard to find the right words. And that is undoubtedly why hubs are easier to write, in my own voice, in a stream of consciousness (with a small amount of tweaking afterwards). Writing in this voice, I could write reams and reams if I had hours and hours to spare. But writing in the voices of other people, other people who do not actually exist outside of one's imagination, can be a painfully slow process - for me, maybe not for you, you lucky person. For me, each word has to be thought about, and I must forget my own instinctive reactions to some extent. Dedicated time in a place that is easy to concentrate is absolutely necessary.

Now, working on the same piece of work in every spare minute has so far proved impossible for me. In some ways I am like a new puppy, and I need to be rewarded for good behaviour. So I make a timetable of my free time. I remake it every now and then, on nice stationery or in a new Excel file, and I rarely stick to it. But I am hoping that by telling you about it I might be encouraged to be more strict with myself (you are now all shaking your heads in disgust at my obvious state of denial about the blatant procrastination in which I am indulging herewith). Hubs should be the dog treats of writing, the little meaty tasting biscuits that we allow ourselves one of when we have worked hard on something more important for a couple of hours. We finish our main meal, we can have our desert.

Sometimes I will spend half an hour in trying to think of a hub topic. Now what a ridiculous waste of time is that? I do not watch TV, I do not read a newspaper, I do not meet with friends in an evening. I am not making the most of my free time - actually, I am squandering it, and as we all know, once it has gone, we cannot get it back.

This is my writing timetable.  You might think that it's a bit pointless to make one at all, when I could just remember that I'm supposed to write every evening.  However, I am a little anal about these things.  You don't actually have to make one.
This is my writing timetable. You might think that it's a bit pointless to make one at all, when I could just remember that I'm supposed to write every evening. However, I am a little anal about these things. You don't actually have to make one.

So, timetabled in are my weekend treats of hubs and letters. Now, notice that I have called it 'lazy writing'. Before you rise up in arms, know that I have given Friday and Saturday night writing that label in jest - of course hubs are not 'lazy writing', and we all know that. No, not lazy, just less difficult.

So you see, I have allotted twenty-four hours a week for the writing of my novel. That should be plenty of time. I have heard lots of tales of people banging out novels in their half-hour lunch breaks, and they have done it in less time than I have taken to write my five chapters. Having young children is no excuse either - lots of novelists have young children; they also have more dedication.

Of course, I know that it is about the quality of the writing, and not about the speed with which it is produced. But it is also about a writer having a good opinion of themselves, and allowing that good feeling to be their motivator. When I am slacking I do not deserve my own good opinion!

Time away from HubPages is essential. So stop reading this immediately and go and have some fun!  

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Comments 30 comments

Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Linda, I feel for you most deeply, because you are managing to do efficiently what I am managing to do not at all. I have no excuses whatsoever.

I don't have thirteen starving children pulling at my threadbare skirts, wailing for food constantly. I do not have an abusive husband and lover who demand every second of my time. I do not have dozens of deranged relatives hanging around in their respective attics; mouthing obscenities and banging their metal bowls on the bars of their locked doors demanding more gruel...

I am just bone idle. I spend hours in front of my PC (Not my la-di-da Apple, like you, my friend) and I produce nothing.

I make lists and charts and timetables and count the number of words I produce every time I can... not for any reason other than because I like to make lists and charts and timetables and count the number of words I produce every time I can.

You have just pointed out something else about me… I am so lazy that all my characters speak exactly the same way as I. So I don’t have to think how they would express themselves… Well apart from my Ecuadorian Cleaning Lady.

I just sit here with all the time in the world and then, now and a gain, I post something on HP. And usually it is something that I wrote when I was about seven or thereabouts.

So? Here I am. Doing nothing, and to prove it, I will most probably be the first person to comments because… What was the expression?

Ah yes. I have it…

I haven’t got a life.

Cheer up, my friend, you will finish your novel… and I’ll BUY it and read it.

Lady Wordsmith profile image

Lady Wordsmith 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK Author

Get away with you, you're not seriously that lazy are you? I don't believe it! I didn't think there was a lazier writer than me in the whole world.

Oh my word though, I've written a sorry-for-myself hub, haven't I?! I must have done, because you told me to cheer up. It was an accident! I didn't mean to write a moany old hub. But I've just read a bit of it back, and bl**dy hell it's a bit depressing. Ugh. Well, I think I need some vitamins or something, to liven myself up a bit.

I WILL finish my novel, you are right! Goddammit! If you buy it, I'll SIGN it :D

Now, you stop being lazy, and finish yours too. This time next year, we could both be, err... nearly finished?


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Motown2Chitown 5 years ago

How great is this hub?!?! I love it. I want to finish a book at some point, a memoir, not a novel, but still...and I've just very recently started writing again, so I can't beat myself up too badly. BUT, this is just the kind of kick I needed. Get to writing, and get to writing for real. I don't happen to have six hours in a day where I can write at the moment, but if I were to really stretch it, I could get in a good chunk of time. I feel sufficiently and quite successfully admonished! THANK YOU!

That said, what a great hub! And what a motivator! Keep going, I haven't a doubt that you'll finish it at some point. My guess is that then, like most novelists worth their salt, you'll demolish it and start all over again!

All the best as you float along...!


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 5 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

OH OH...I keep running into Mowtown. You have said so much here that I could write a book in response. But I must move on! I enjoyed this very much. You have this laid out beautifully and it is easy to understand. Keep up the great HUBS. Up one and Useful. Hey! I'm now your fan! If you visit my HUB with Linda, please leave a brief a comment as it will brighten her day. RJ

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Motown2Chitown 5 years ago

Mr. Jay, are you stalking me? Tomorrow is the day on which I head into Watchdogg! Can't wait to dig in! :)

Lady Wordsmith profile image

Lady Wordsmith 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK Author

Nice to meet you two :) Thanks for reading and enjoying my hub. Motown, I'm glad to have made you feel suitably admonished. How interesting that you're writing a memoir - whose are you writing? Good luck with that.

Thanks for the kind comment Reynold, and good luck with what ever you are doing too. Thanks for the votes! I will now pop over and take a look at your hubs (even though I'm not timetabled to be here!)


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Loved this too! I can really relate to the guilt feelings - except I feel guilty when I'm writing because I could be doing other (more important?) tasks like the dreaded laundry! I just get stuck on hub pages!

I am also taking your free advice - I'm going to get away from the computer and take the kids to the City Museum. Then I'm thinking about writing a hub about it. Shameless! Lol!

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Motown2Chitown 5 years ago

Lady Wordsmith, I'm hoping to write my own...I'm struggling a bit with whether or not I feel it's actually worth writing - well, worth trying to publish anyway. In the meantime, I give some consideration to an idea that Mr. Jay has tossed out - he's said that my story might make a great novel. That idea gives me a little bit of freedom too, because I can, in a sense, rewrite history if I choose to do so in the name of poetic license. :) Take a look at some of my hubs and see what you think. And, I plan to take a look at yours on a regular basis.

Lady Wordsmith profile image

Lady Wordsmith 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK Author

RealHousewife - laundry is never more important than anything! I never feel guilty about not doing housework, lol ;) And you should see my house - it's awful sometimes! So many toys, aaggh!

I'll look forward to that hub about the museum though - time with the kids, priceless :)


Lady Wordsmith profile image

Lady Wordsmith 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK Author

Motown, this is exactly how my second novel idea came about - I started jotting down memories from my school days, and some of them were so funny. I elaborated of course, and made them even funnier, and changed some of the characters, and voila! a new novel was born. I haven't finished it, though I have completed a first draft. It's not good enough for me to think of publishing yet, but I want to work on it much more and make it publishable. Yes, you're right, that turning your own memoir into a novel gives you some lovely freedom. I will look at your hubs very soon - having movie night with the kids tonight!

Some of my early hubs don't really get looked at now, but there might be some stuff there that's interesting.


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Motown2Chitown 5 years ago

No worries, Linda. You'll see an increase in your earlier hub's traffic once I get on a reading I tend to go through as many as I can once I sign on to follow. Movie night with the kids is a very important thing! I guarantee, all my hubs (and the rest of HubPages) will still be here in the morning. Kids and family are far more valuable when it comes to time!

:) Enjoy your evening!

queenpoetica profile image

queenpoetica 5 years ago from England

Oh lady! your opening paragraph made me laugh! you write so beautifully humourously.

You give yourself too hard a time. When I looked at your timetable, I wondered when you are ever going to fit a visit in for your sick mother!

I voted you up, purley because you are such a good writer and your use of words is magnificent. I think I'm growing into your biggest fan.

Lady Wordsmith profile image

Lady Wordsmith 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK Author

I've read about pirates so I know that that's what my guilt feels like! It's true :D

I'm visiting you this evening, so take heart :D We've no germs in the house today, so I can visit without fear of poisoning you!

Love you Mum, my biggest fan :D


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Yeah what MO said Lady Wordsmith! I go through everyone's older hubs too! I read hubs rather than trashy novels before I go to bed:). I alternate hubbers and read a few each night;). Very educational - especially from the writers who have written tips like you have for those of us who really need and appreciate your professional help!

Lady Wordsmith profile image

Lady Wordsmith 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK Author

Lol, professional help! Aagh, no. I really make it all up as I go along, and only hope that it makes sense to someone :D

I wish I had more time for reading the work of fellow hubbers, as I sometimes feel that I can't devote as much time to them as I'd like! I learn so much from reading about other people's writing processes and pitfalls and mistakes and successes. All so useful.

Thanks for your kind comment :)


Jlbowden profile image

Jlbowden 5 years ago from Long Island, New York

Lady wordsworth:

Your words are more beautiful than I can describe. You do certainly owe it to yourself to enjoy some quiet time with good company. Hubpages can also be addicting, but in a good way. Thanks for sharing your timetable with us. I often loose track of the hours myself, as the hours and days unfold before me. This will certainly help with organizing my writing time better!


Lady Wordsmith profile image

Lady Wordsmith 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK Author

Thanks for the incredibly kind comment Jl. It's a basic idea, this timetable, but sometimes it's just a reminder that we need to kick start a little bit of writing. A week can pass me by sometimes, and I won't even realise that I haven't written anything - bizarre how time slips through our fingers in that way.

Hope you manage to organise your writing time.


jlbowden 5 years ago


Do not mention it...You could say its words coveyed from one writer to another. And also do not forget to enjoy the rest of this weekend before you continue with your writing. Remember the writing that we craft,will always be carried on throughout our generations to enjoy. But we will not always be here to write.


Lady Wordsmith profile image

Lady Wordsmith 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK Author


Ahh, being in the UK, my weekend is almost over, but I will enjoy the rest of it with a good book once my boys are in bed. And then I have a wonderfully busy, writing-filled week to look forward to - I love Monday mornings, they're my most productive time of the week.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend too.


Lidian profile image

Lidian 5 years ago

Oh, I totally relate to this! And am going to have to try the schedule thing - because my poor Victorian/alternative mystery (set in an alternative/fantasy/steampunkish NYC) is languishing. Because I like writing Hubs and articles and blog posts too - I want it all! But if I don't schedule Novel Time, just like you, I end up feeling guilty (never have to schedule THAT).

Lady Wordsmith profile image

Lady Wordsmith 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK Author

Oh, you must write that novel - it sounds completely intriguing. I have heard of this steampunk thing, and I think I like it!

Yes, I want it all too - this is the problem, is it not?! :) I think it's possible to have it all, in terms of writing in many different places, and sometimes I do, but it's tricky hanging on to it.

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment :)


steve of ian fame profile image

steve of ian fame 5 years ago from Essex

I do lack the life discipline of writing skill development. Manic attacks where I leave reality behind for weeks and then to the easy fulfilment of wine or sherry. Whatever intoxicates the brain.

Lady Wordsmith profile image

Lady Wordsmith 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK Author

Hello Steve. How honoured do I feel to receive a comment from the subject of such a now famous hub by our wonderful friend Ian? Very.

I just cannot write when I've had a drink of anything boozy - completely dulls my senses, and all I can do then is sleep. Mind you, if I perfected the technique of lucid dreaming, I could do some good work in my sleep and no time would be wasted at all.

Maggie-May profile image

Maggie-May 5 years ago from the Island of Cape Breton to the Eastern Shores near Halifax, NS

Oh My God!!! I laughed reading this! For you have totally wrote about my life, my experiences each day and just how painful it can be to work on that novel darnit!! LOL And also, yes, I absolutely want to get it done too, and hold my book in my hand to say I finally did it!!! And yet, for hours I consume myself here at hubs, and can find soo many other things to do.... Like you, I continue to try stick to the plan.... Is it possible? LOL

Thanks for this Hub, it's terrific, and it's so presently ME,


Lady Wordsmith profile image

Lady Wordsmith 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK Author

Presently me too Maggie. Writing about it did not guilt me into pressing on with the novel! Obviously! Sometimes I think that I have it in my head that my novel will write itself - when will I ever learn? :D

Thanks for laughing at my hub - I always love it when people tell me they've laughed at my writing.


Winaiva profile image

Winaiva 5 years ago from Oklahoma

I have a different kind of problem now, but I feel your... uuhhh... pain. It took me ten years to write a book which is not sitting on a disc waiting for me to find an agent or publisher for it... That is difficult with all the query letters and such... However, I love this hub and found it useful in getting me motivated to work on getting published. Thank you!!!!

Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia

Great hub. Don't we all have that novel that is in some stage of making it's way to the public. While it feels contradictory to what being a writer is all about - free thinking, creating anywhere and anytime - alas, the craft takes discipline if we want to ever get our words on paper so that others can enjoy. What I find when working on my novel is that I'm impatient to get to the end, almost the same way that I'm impatient when I'm reading. I need to learn to savor the character and plot development.

Thanks for giving insight into your writing journey. It has words of wisdom I can surely relate to and use. (By the way, how's it going?)

Lady Wordsmith profile image

Lady Wordsmith 4 years ago from Lancaster, UK Author

Hi Cyndi,

Nice to meet you.

It's going to be going well from now on because all of my children are now at school and I have nothing to do but write and look for work! How lovely - I really am a lucky lady. I do not know where to start though, I have so much that I want to write and so many places to do it. I need some focus. I'm sure I'll find it though (if people would just stop visiting me and thinking that I am a lady of leisure with nothing better to do than drink tea and eat cake!)

What are you working on right now? I should take a look at your hubs - hubbing is on my list of treats, and I'm not allowed to get sucked back into it too much until I have produced something of value!

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas

Generally I don't feel guilty when I don't get to everything I should, I just feel overwhelmed because there is that much more uncleared from my loooong list of must to-dos.

You certainly know how to paint great pictures in a person's mind!

Lady Wordsmith profile image

Lady Wordsmith 3 years ago from Lancaster, UK Author

Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I'm feeling overwhelmed by that list again - time to get back to my timetable!


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