Do you ever feel overwhelmed by writing?
Your teacher or professor assigns a writing project, and you think “I don’t even know how to start?” Or do you struggle to begin any other piece of writing that seems large? Even experienced writers get nervous about writing something whether it’s a book, poem, blog post, essay, article, or research paper. There is that moment where a writer asks, “How do I do this?” The best thing to do then is to think through what you must do and create a writing schedule. It is the roadmap to completing a final draft.
There are 4 key steps to creating a schedule: 1) understanding the project, 2) listing what you need to do, 3) selecting the time and dates when you will do your tasks, and 4) keeping on task.
Let’s dive into how to create an effective writing schedule for your next project.
4 Steps to Creating an Effective Writing Schedule
Step #1: Determine the writing goal and requirements for your project.
If you are creating a schedule for an assignment such as an essay or academic paper, you will have a description of what the assignment is and what is required. You may have information about how the assignment is evaluated too.
Read through that information and determine what you need for your final copy. Here are some questions to help you understand your assignment:
- What is the goal of this project?
- What are the specific requirements?
- What subjects or topics do I need to write about
- When is it due? Are there deadlines for different parts of the assignment (a date for when you need to write a rough draft)?
- What type of writing is it? (e.g., expository, narrative, etc.)
- What style and reference guide do I need to follow? (e.g., APA, Chicago Style Guide, MLA, etc.)
If you are writing a nonfiction book, fiction, poetry, etc. think through the goal, purpose of your project, and what the expectations are for that genre. You may also want to think about how you will organize your project. If it’s a poetry collection, do you have a theme each section will cover? If it’s a nonfiction book how will you organize your sections or content? These questions will help you understand what you want to accomplish.
Step #2 List everything you need to do to complete your writing project.
Write down the tasks you need to do. Include both specific things for the writing project and phases of the writing process. Here’s an example list for writing a research paper.
- Brainstorm topics or ideas
- Create a research question
- Find sources
- Take notes on the research
- Organize your notes and plan what you will write
- Write the first draft of your paper
- Revise the draft
- Edit your research paper
- Hand in your final research paper
Next, look at each of these tasks and estimate how long you will take to complete each thing. You can write these estimates next to each task.
Step 3: Create your schedule.
Look back at everything you need to do, and write down a date and time of when you will do each task. Keep in mind both how long you think each thing will take and the deadline. You can create a schedule in a planner you have, create a separate table or chart, or just use a calendar such as Google Calendar.
Whichever method you select you should have these categories:
- The Writing Project Title
- A Short Project Description
- Date-The day on which something will be done.
- Time-The exact time when you will work on tasks.
- Tasks—What tasks you will accomplish.
You can use this method with any type of writing project: article, blog, book, essay, poetry collection, etc.
Step #4 Stick to your schedule.
A writing schedule won’t help you if you don’t actually follow it. You need to do the work and write. Here are some ideas on how to be accountable and complete your writing project.
One way to keep on track with your writing is to have an accountability partner. An accountability partner is someone you can meet up with regularly where you each share what you accomplished. If you haven’t done what you need to do, you can discuss why you haven’t done it and plan on how you will catch up with your work. Accountability partners can encourage and motivate each other to keep going no matter how hard something seems.
The one downside to accountability partners is that they can’t always talk you through writing difficulties. So, if you are not accomplishing a project because you don’t know how to write it, you should seek help from a teacher or tutor.
A writing group can give you advice, tips, and feedback on your writing. They may have a regular meeting time where everyone needs to bring their work. This approach means that you will have to have your writing done before the meeting. You can get comments and suggestions from other members of the group. If you want to advance your writing, getting feedback on it is a great way to further your writing talent.
However, unless you form a group based on people who all have the same project to complete, you won’t have guidance through parts of your writing assignment. If members aren’t aware of the specifics of your project, they can’t comment on whether or not your work fulfills the assignment’s goals and requirements.
While each of the above methods can help you, the most important thing you need is a commitment to completing a writing project. If you have a strong will to follow your writing schedule and the discipline to do your work each day—you will finish. Want to learn more about sticking to your schedule? Check out my blog post, “Academic Writing Accountability: How to Be a Productive Writer” at https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/writing-accountability/.
Make Your Writing Schedule
Writers who are organized and keep moving forward are writers that complete their projects. Their projects don’t just remain good ideas in their heads—they are words shared with others.
Writing can transform how a reader thinks, feels, and sees the world. Whether you are in high school, college, graduate school, or out of school, you have the potential to write something that changes the world. Create a schedule to keep you on track and focused on completing your powerful masterpiece of writing.
Need help making a schedule?
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