Writing according to a set schedule

Coming of age and making time to write in real life

Françoise Sagan’s writing schedule*

Françoise Sagan was only 18 when she wrote Bonjour Tristesse. Often this is a time when young people yearn for freedom and takes a sabbatical. Sagan had this kind of freedom but still decided to write each day for a set time

When you make a decision to write according to a set schedule and really stick to it, you find yourself writing very fast.

Françoise Sagan

She adds to the answer at least I do. This is a common observation regarding the way to set up a writing schedule. It has to fit the writer and the writer has to come up with it herself. Often we stop ourselves short of the tracks because we don’t know what to write but another benefit of setting up a schedule is you make yourself available for the ideas. Sagan puts it this way –

I have to start to write to have ideas.

Françoise Sagan

Sagan wrote for two-three hours each day. To come up with such a schedule it is perhaps necessary to try out different times of the day and then stick to the time that works best.

Sometimes we don’t have that kind of freedom and need to accommodate our writing schedule to our life circumstances. This is one of the themes in the book Miss Iceland by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir.

Coming of age and making time to write in fiction

The main character Hekla in Miss Iceland writes at night she calculates that between nine hours of work and seven hours of sleep she can write and read for eight hours and so she does in the night. Her friend writes secretly in a diary about her life as a stay at home mom. A new acquaintance who is a librarian writes openly at the restaurant Hekla works in but he is of cause also male. Because another main theme of the book is the improbability of being a woman who wants to write in the sixties in Iceland. Hekla is silently smoldering at the beginning of the book and as the reader, we wait for her eruption.

It is not the schedule as so much as it is the commitment to our writing that creates momentum. By honoring a set time each day or night we create a room for the stories to come alive and so comes of age as writers.

To get started print out this stationery pdf and write just for five minutes (for best result print as A4 without borders)

At the outskirt of the story, the male writers meet up in cafes which Hekla doesn’t join. For the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic in March, I am sitting in a cafe writing. It almost brings tears to my eyes. I missed it. One of the writing prompts in Natalie Goldbergs Writing Down The Bones is to describe the cafe you are in. I always thought it a bit boring to describe where I am sitting. Today I soak up every detail and notice how the familiar setting is disarranged by signs asking people to only sit at every other table and preferable to go outside. My coffee is served in a to-go cup and when I ask for a regular mug she tells me that she is not allowed to because of the corona. Writing in a cafe early morning used to be a part of my regular writing schedule. In the last couple of months, there hasn’t been any schedule so I am happy that NaNoWriMo Camp came along to remind me of my commitment to keep on writing. I put my goal at 10000 words. Bonjour Tristesse is about 30000 words long and it took her about three months to finish. For now, I write in the morning at home by my desk while my baby girl is sleeping next to me.

* https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4912/the-art-of-fiction-no-15-francoise-sagan

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