Do You Have A Freelance Writing Schedule?

A person crossing items off their check list

Is your freelance writing career an organizational mess or a master class in structured working?

A few years ago when I first started writing on a freelance basis, I didn’t have any type of set schedule.

I only had one regular client and a few pieces that came in occasionally.

For the one regular client, I used to deliver the work within seven days and I would generally give the same time scale for any ad hoc work.

Working like this, it was easy – even as a new freelance writer – to realise that it would be best if I got the work done as quickly as possible, in case any additional work came in, but that if need be, I could simply divide up how much work I had on by seven and ensure that I completed at least that amount each day.

As my client base and order amount grew, I followed the same principle and although I would give clients between 14 and 28 days as a deadline (unless they requested otherwise), I applied the same logic of dividing how much work I had on by the number of days I had to complete it in and ensured that I finished the per day figure each day, if not a little extra.

This was working particularly well, up until this year.

It wasn’t straight away in January, but as many of you know, I’ve taken on different projects and types of work in recent months and it’s made me realise just how disorganized I was as a freelance writer.

I don’t think I was terribly disorganized previously, as the practices I had in place worked, but since my workload has varied – and I think it’s this that has proven to be the main reasoning for changing my organizational habits, rather than the volume – I’ve had to be more organized than I’ve ever had to be.

As fantastic as I initially thought being particularly organized is, I’ve realised that it does, somewhat surprisingly, have its down falls and the primary one is that I’m certain it’s the culprit behind my lack of creativity.

When I had a pretty open schedule, I essentially wrote when I wanted to, be it 6am in the morning or 11pm at night.  Whenever I felt like writing, I would.

Now I’m being more rigid with my time, saying that I have to work from 9pm to 10.30pm on certain writing projects, I’m finding that I sometimes don’t want to work then, but because I have to, it’s as if I’m forcing something that doesn’t want to come.

This could just be because things have changed a lot in the past few weeks and I’m still trying to get used to it all and on top of it all, but I’ve got a feeling it’s a negative by-product of being so organized and it’s one that I’m simply going to have to get used to.

Do you have a set freelance writing schedule that you stick to rigidly or are you a little less organized than you think you should be?

Image:  vnlain (Flickr)

About Dan Smith

Dan Smith is a seasoned freelance writer, currently working as the SEO Specialist for digital media agency Zine.  With a strong focus on developing strategies that are based heavily on high quality content, Dan always has one eye on the customer experience and has a distinct (dis)ability of being unable to say no.


  1. I have a schedule for my writing, but my overall workday schedule is fairly loose. For example, if I have a hard deadline coming up, I schedule out distinct blocks of time on specific dates and at specific times of day for each piece coming due. I also set a timer four times per day (20 minutes) to take care of social media duties. Email gets answered throughout the day, but never during specific writing blocks or social media time. I use the in-between time for filing, phone calls, surfing for great information and new articles written by my “freelance heroes”. I still struggle with time management at times (o.k., often). Hubs and kids demand time when they want it! Doctor appointments for my rather large family expect me to put all on a shelf and attend. Other external factors seem to always horn in on my simple, perfect plan.

  2. Allison says:

    I have a schedule that I follow fairly rigidly. But I do allow extra time for all jobs and set my own deadlines a day or two before the work is actually due. This gives me some more flexibility if I should need it. I have found that early mornings are my most productive time, so I get up and get a fair chunk of work done before the rest of the house is up. It works for me, but there are times when I struggle. I suppose that happens for all freelancers though from time to time, doesn’t it?

  3. I have a pretty massive spreadsheet with all of my daily work, weekly and monthly goals wrapped up in one place for this exact reason.

    I was in the same boat. I wrote as things came in or needed to be done but what I found was the same type of reaction I had during school: wait until the last minute.

    Now, I wake up, load up the spreadsheet and start right away on what needs to be done; it’s helped tremendously.

  4. I’m still in that “write when I please” mode, though I do try to be a little more organized than I used to be. I have an actual calendar in front of me that I write all my deadlines in, but to have a set time of day to write? I don’t know that I could do that. I’m just now getting to a point in my life where I can write at any time of day or night. It used to be that I only felt creative at night, but I’m getting better.

    Great article!