The Fine Art of Schedule Compromises: 

How to Eat Your Cake and Have It, Too.

In The Productive Indie Fiction Writer, when I spoke about writing schedules, I made the observation that you can do anything you want…you just can’t do everything you want.

In order to keep your daily routine from blowing out, to contain it to something you can actually live with, you have to compromise.


How you compromise makes a huge difference.

I was reminded of this in the last couple of weeks. 

I am struggling to bring my fiction sales back to life after they bottomed out over the last year thanks to the unfortunate timing of an industry-wide, extreme post-COVID slump, and not having released new titles in nearly two years for any of my pen names, while I dealt with cancer.

Clearly, a big, steady marketing push was needed, one that will last for the foreseeable future. 

But where to find the time to research, plan and execute this necessary marketing push?

Reluctantly, after some major heartache, I decided that I must cut my daily writing back again, down to 90 minutes a day.  I sold myself on this new writing schedule by reminding myself that plenty of authors have only 90 minutes a day to write.  And I’ll sell more books in the meantime.

But the more dire adjustment was cutting back new releases from every 4 weeks to every 8 weeks.  It had to happen.  You can’t write for 90 minutes a day and meet the word count needed to produce a book a month. 

So I rearranged everything to meet the new demands on my time.

I lasted a day.   One day.

After nearly a decade of writing for hours each day, writing for only 90 minutes was beyond uncomfortable.  I had a panicky reaction to having to stop after 90 minutes.  I had barely got started!

It wasn’t simply the discomfort that comes from a new routine.   I knew that this was not a tenable schedule.  It simply wouldn’t work.  I would not get used to it, except perhaps if I persisted for months and years.

But that would make me very unhappy in the short to mid-term.  Also not good.

But I simply couldn’t see a way to make a daily schedule work that gave me both the time I needed to write fresh fiction and take care of the new marketing demands, while also keeping all the admin and postproduction balls in the air.  Plus, you know, some time to sleep, eat, exercise and glance wistfully out the window every few days or so.

My solution was to borrow a different brain to look at my schedule.  I asked my husband, Mark (also a writer and editor) to see where I could make changes to the schedule that would give me everything I want.  (Ha!)

This was actually a two-pronged tactic.  1)  I got a fresh set of eyes to spot any presumptions I’d made, timewise and 2) I got the other person in the household to buy into any changes needed that would impact him.

And Mark found the time I couldn’t see on my schedule.  He questioned the assumptions I’d made about “shared” time.  For example; breakfast and sales reporting time in the morning got shaved down to a tighter, but still realistic bucket of time. 

There were other, similar changes, none of which I could have made without his cooperation and understanding.

And suddenly, I had a schedule that gave me back my precious writing time, and had room for marketing.  Plus, everything else that was necessary to keep an indie business going was on there, too.

It was tight.  But it worked.

And I was delighted.

My pleasure swiftly evolved into a strong motive to activate the schedule and stick to it.

And that was the reminder I needed to write this post. 

You must have pleasure in your daily schedule, or you won’t stick with it.

Ideally, your writing time is a source of pleasure.  You need to love the process.  But that pleasure is often lost beneath the pressure of deadlines and more.  Still, try to preserve the time you ideally want to spend writing.  You (hopefully) enjoy doing it, which makes it intrinsically motivating.

Find room on your schedule for fun.  For pleasure.  It doesn’t have to be a hobby, or even something social.  It can be work-related.  If you genuinely love formatting books for example, (I’m not judging – I love laying out print books, myself), then don’t farm it out to VAs or formatting services.  Contract out some other chore instead, and keep this fun thing for yourself.

I fought to get back my pleasureable writing time. 

What would make your daily schedule something to look forward to?  What ratios of writing/business/other would help you look forward to working each day?

And can you find even an hour a week for trivial, just-because things?  What would you like to spend an hour doing, that would keep you working your schedule all week, just to get that hour?  Or are there a bunch of things you’d like to do, that you can complete consecutively in that “spare” hour?

3 steps to a schedule that you want to stick with

In quick points:

  1. Figure out what tasks or activities, if they were on your schedule, would make the schedule something you would fight to keep.  How much time you spend doing them is also important, especially if it’s writing time you’re contemplating.
  2. Have a third party look at your schedule and question everything (ideally a family member, or all of them).  They can help tighten it, and find the chunks and minutes that make it work, even with everything and fun stuff on it.
  3. Get your family to buy in on your schedule.  If possible, ask them to help you figure out a schedule that works.  This helps them understand and accept the changes.

Write More, Faster Than Ever Before

Are You Prolific?

Scroll to Top