Last week, I talked about the difference between writers and people who write. I said writers write even when they don't want to. Here's another aspect of that: writers don't write sporadically.
Writers don't wait until they "aren't busy" to write. They don't wait until the stars align or the breeze blows just right. They don't make excuses like their computer needs to update or their room needs to be cleaned or the dishes that have been sitting on the counter all day suddenly need to be done this second.
No. Those are just things people say when they don't want to write. So here's the truth: you aren't too busy. Your room is clean enough. The dishes will be fine for a few more hours. If you are a writer, you have no excuse not to write.
One way to keep yourself from falling into this mindset, or to keep yourself from only writing when inspiration comes, is to schedule your writing. The same way you schedule classes, work, or plans with friends. If you use a planner or calendar, put your writing time in there and know you can't skip it the same way you can't skip work.
It doesn't have to be every day. I usually have a late afternoon class on Tuesdays. They get out early enough that I still have all evening, but late enough that I can't work that day. So, for the last four semesters, Tuesdays were my writing day. I didn't do homework on Tuesdays. I didn't make plans on Tuesdays. I wrote on Tuesdays.
I didn't always get much done. Sometimes it was just a few pages or a few lines or I just did research and organized things for a few hours. But, all of that is still writing and a lot of it wouldn't have gotten done if I hadn't scheduled it.
Another way to help yourself is to make deadlines. I find it's easy to not work on a project when I feel like I have all the time in the world to finish it. One of my workshop classes made a Facebook group so we could keep reading each other's stories this summer. One of the girls in it told me she didn't think she'd have gotten so much done if she hadn't known people were waiting for her to turn it in.
So if you're comfortable having people read brand new chapters, get in a group. Or have someone you send a chapter to each week. Knowing they're waiting gives you a deadline. Personally, I don't like other people to read my chapters until the entire novel is finished (because my first drafts are a hot mess). So I had a deadline of getting all my chapters done before the workshop class I mentioned started. I didn't quite make it, but I got very close.
However, I don't put word or page counts in my deadlines. I don't tell myself I need to write 500 words before I can stop for the day or get to page 15 before I can close my computer. When I do this, my writing gets wordy and the quality suffers. So I make deadlines and goals like getting a chapter done by next week or getting to a certain plot point in the next three days. Or at the end of my scheduled writing time, I need to know how chapter 30 ends.
I don't always want to write those things and I didn't always want to write on Tuesdays. But in the same way that I went to class every day and work when I was scheduled, I wrote during the time I set aside for it. I don't think my novel ever would have gotten done if I hadn't.
Do you schedule your writing? How often do you schedule it?