This seems like a fairly popular topic among writers (judging from the highly-scientific Google searches we make when we should be writing but instead spend time Googling about writing).
We don’t really have a “schedule.” There are times we’re more likely to be writing because of our various obligations, but we don’t have a designated word count or time limit we force ourselves to meet. We used to. For a while, we’d do the 2,000-word-a-day thing, and then we began setting hourly goals (4,3,2 hours a day, whatever).
We found that setting these arbitrary limits on ourselves wasn’t really helping. Some days the words would come easy, some days the hours would fly by. Just as often they wouldn’t. When we struggled, the failure to achieve our daily goals was just an added frustration. We’d write poorly just to achieve our word count for the day, and that’s no way to write. The time-goal was slightly better, but after a while the act of writing began to feel like an obligation, not something we love to do.
We figured out a solution that works pretty well for us. Instead of setting a daily goal, we set monthly, or even yearly, goals. Typically, we try and get a rough draft of a novel done every six months. That’s an extremely obtainable (and productive) goal, and keeps us from bashing our heads against our desks when we can’t eek out those final five hundred words on any given day, or when we simply don’t have another hour of writing left in us. It keeps us moving forward without obsessively checking word counts or the time.
We’ve discovered that our first drafts are better; we no longer feel compelled to add poor writing just to reach our goal, and the result is much cleaner–much sharper. We’ve discovered that the time we set aside for writing is a lot more fun, knowing that we have free reign to create without worrying about glancing at the clock.
Of course, this is only our own experience–we’d love to hear what you’ve found to be a productive schedule. As always, thanks for reading,
W & W Sawday