And Here Comes School

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I consider the actual New Years Day to be August 25th. Or whatever day school starts.

Wednesday, we go pick up my son’s class schedule. Next Tuesday, we head back into the school year. Eighth-grade, at the same middle school, so there shouldn’t be any big surprises. (Of course, now that I’ve said that…). His routine starts up again.

And so does mine. Five hours to focus on my novel. And my picture book. And marketing the critique book. And developing workshops. And thinking about other nonfiction projects I want to go for. This is going to be one of my busiest years in a long time.

I could panic.

Instead, I’m just reminding myself how good it is that all this is happening and that, yes, it’s what I’ve been working toward for years. And I can do it. At least most of it.

I’m working out a new schedule for those hours. One that’s based on the pay-me-first premise of finances, that says you pay your retirement plan first, then take care of the other expenses. This year, I’m paying my fiction first. This does not mean that I’ll be shirking my other projects, like getting the critique book out there to people, or organizing writing classes and conferences, or sending out proposals for more writing. It’s just that–honestly–I always get that stuff done. And pretty well. It’s the fiction that gets pushed to the bottom of the to-do list and, too often, off the list.

So…here’s the plan, guys.

  • Get up an hour-ish before son (whose school starts later this year, so he can actually sleep in till 7:00–woo-hoo!). Take that hour to read email and blogs. Say “hi” to you all over on Facebook and Twitter. Write up posts for my own blog.
  • Take son to school.
  • Come home, TURN OFF THE INTERNET, and work on my fiction for a minimum of one hour. Depositing words into the novel or PB account. (I say fiction here, but it really means my most creative work, which may include that nonfiction, biography PB that’s stewing in the back of my brain. I say writing, but it will also mean doing research, working on character development, or just standing and staring at my white board.)
  • Work on everything else. That being anything from to marketing biz and nonfiction projects to grocery shopping, paying bills, shopping for b-day presents, or adding new lead to the mechanical pencils. Life.
  • Exercise. I really prefer to do this earlier in the day, but when I exercise in the morning, well–somehow the morning disappears. As does the writing. So…this gets pushed later on the schedule chart. 🙂
  • Pick up son. We’ll be carpooling in the afternoons, so there will be a couple of days with a bit of extra time. More pencil leads. Or perhaps a nap.
  • Hang out around son. (I don’t say hang out “with”, because he’s 13, and we’ve prettymuch gone back to parallel-play  these days.) Clean house. Think about dinner. Check in with the Internet. More writing-biz stuff. Putter as productively as possible.
  • Dinner/Family time.
  • Before bedtime, try and re-orient on fiction, if only for a few minutes, so that I’m more ready to dig in the next morning. And with the usual hope, typically fruitless, of sparking some wonderful dream that will iron out all my plot knots and create amazing arcs for my characters.

Next day, rinse and repeat.

Me, a control freak? Ha! But truly, that hour a day is the thing that keeps my fear levels down, the fear that says I’ll make progress on everything but my fiction this year. When I look at it this day, I know I’ll keep moving forward, that I’ll be giving myself the space and time I need to grow this novel and any other creative projects I dip into.

Will it work? Check back with me at Thanksgiving, and I’ll let you know.

Do you have a plan that already works for you? Are you playing with one for this year? Drop a note into the comments and share!


  1. peg366 says:

    I don’t know any writer would get anything done if they didn’t plan oout their day. . .especially those with children in the house. Great tips.



  2. P. J. Hoover says:

    You know, I think I need a daily plan once school starts back up. Or maybe more like a weekly plan. Some days as writing days, others as marketing, publicity, etc.


    • beckylevine says:

      Thanks for the reminder. I need to try and do that with the other-than-writing hour stuff. A day of research, a day of marketing, a day of cleaning (blech!). Much more effective.


  3. Amy G. says:

    Very wise of you to plan ahead! It’s hard to squeeze everything in, isn’t it?


  4. I love that you’ve already planned out the day for me! Mind if I steal this schedule? =)


  5. beth says:

    The start of school *is* the New Year…but it’s totally different when you’re a teacher! Now I’ve got to figure out how to wake up in the morning, teach, and then come home and have enough energy to write 😦


    • beckylevine says:

      I know. I do have to get up in the a.m., but that’s the only downside. I admire you guys tremendously!


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