Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely. –Rodin
Keeping in mind that I am a certain personality type, I will share what works for me, and give examples of how they might work for you.
I have no set schedule for writing. I don’t wake up and allot specific times to specific tasks. I don’t write a to-do list for the day. Instead, I envision my finished product and give myself general goals instead of seemingly huge, insurmountable tasks.
For me, tight-scheduling allows me no freedom to move. If you’ve tried to work with a rigid schedule and it hasn’t worked for you, try backing off a bit. Instead of making the goal and deadline by a specific date, try expanding the timeline instead. Say, if I can reach five chapters in a few weeks, I’ll be doing great! You’d be surprised how giving yourself some wiggle room might free up some tension and release some creative energy.
Goals are wonderful. They can be a great motivation. Without them, we wouldn’t be aiming for anything at all! But goals can also hinder our ability to move forward, if we aren’t careful.
I used to make myself sit down and write a specific amount of words a day, and then beat myself up if I didn’t reach what I’d set for myself. Then I decided not to set word count goals at all. That was bad too. Once I realized I needed to set a word count goal, but that myattitude about it needed to change, a door opened for me. I set the goal to write 2,000 words every two days. That left me some wiggle room. I could write 500 one day, 1,500 the next. I let myself enjoy what I was writing more than focusing on how many words it all was. This simple change allowed me to write two novels (first drafts) in five months, when normally, it takes me about three months to write a first draft for a single novel. I also allow myself Sundays off if I needed a rest. The biggest change of all was that if I didn’t meet my goal, I didn’t worry about it or get angry with myself.
Rigid goals can be intimidating. Often, we start comparing ourselves and our goals (and how quickly we reach them) to others. That’s one of the worst things you can do! Instead, give yourself a break and figure out what works for you. Give yourself breathing room and work at a pace that keeps you passionate, but also relaxed. Being relaxed so you can enjoy what you’re doing is a key element.
Most of all, I’ve found managing your writing time isn’t so much about management, it’s about the right attitude.
I wish you the best in your writing!