Retro Post: Stress-free Writing All Year

In January of this year, I posted this blog about organizing the upcoming year’s writing goals. Starting January 16, I’m once again teaching this 4-week online class, Going the Distance: Goal Setting and Time Management for the Writer, and I’d love to see you there. This is one of the exercises we’ll be doing in the class. I hope it helps you get started toward organizing your time and achieving your writing goals!

This month we’re all making the handoff between last year’s partially accomplished goals and this year’s fresh new and exciting goals. In the online class I’m teaching this month on goal setting and time management for writers, we’re using an annual planning calendar to find out how many days we really have for writing. Once we know that number and plan around it, we can create goals that can be achieved with a minimum of stress and guilt.

Take a 12-month calendar you can use just for writing. There are pros and cons for using the large laminated year-at-a-glance type, and the monthly flip calendar, so decide which one you prefer and dive in. Begin by crossing off all the days you already know you won’t be available for writing. That list will be different for each of us – birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, public holidays, kids’ school events, etc.

When you’ve crossed out everything you can think of, decide how many sick days you want to plan for. Also choose a number of days for emergencies. (The number will depend on your situation, the people who depend on you at work and home, the number of days last year that something came up unexpectedly, etc.) Count the total number of days you still have available on the calendar, then subtract the sick days and emergency days. This is the number of days you have for the year that you can plan your writing around.

You may also want to plan for some catch-up padding, especially if you’re chronically behind. One way to pad your time is to cross off the last three open days of the month, every month. That automatically gives you a full month of “extra time” for the year – 3 times 12 equals 36 days.

Let’s say you end up with 200 days in 2011 that you can devote X number of hours each day to your writing. Now you need to look at your goals and break them down into the number of hours each will take. For instance, if you can write 500 words a day without a problem, and you plan to write the first draft of a category romance of 50,000 words, it will take you about 100 days, or half of your year. If it takes you twice as long to edit and revise as it does to pound out the first draft, you need another 200 days.

That means you could produce a 50,000 word book every 18 months without stress or guilt. And by stress and guilt I mean feeling like you should be doing something else when you’re writing, or feeling like you should be writing when you’re doing something else. That is the kind of situation this type of planning can help you avoid. After all, you crossed off the holidays and vacation days and birthdays that you wanted to focus on. You’re free!

Now you’ll have to look at all of your goals for the year – which may also include showering every day, sleeping for 6-8 hours a night, driving to the grocery store, etc. – and figure out if you have more goals than can be accomplished in 52 168-hour weeks. If you have too many goals for the next 12 months, you’re setting yourself up for failure. But if you can do the math today and see that before it happens, you can make changes now and end up with a plan that truly can be accomplished.

Good luck!

 

Choosing the Next Project

I’m in good company here – the land of What Are We Going to Write Next Month? I met with my friend Betsy again this week to discuss it. She and I both have a fiction idea and a nonfiction idea. There are pros and cons to pursuing either one. One the one hand, I need to get my next novel finished and up for sale to keep growing my audience. On the other hand, NaNo is always a good time to work hard on something you often don’t have/take the time for.

One way to decide is to consider where my mind has been lately, and where it chooses to go without conscious direction. I’ve had a lot of “business” stuff on my mind for the last six months or so. I knew I needed to get my writing business up and running again as quickly as possible once I finished grad school. Some people say they keep their deadlines because they need to pay the rent. I’m rushing to build my business because my student loan is going to come due soon!

Another way to decide which project to work on is to consider what else is going to be happening during November, especially in comparison to other months. For me, November may be a time of packing and moving. (Though it may not; we haven’t heard for sure yet.) I would find it very difficult to focus on a new story during a time of upheaval. On the other hand, I’ve already written the first draft of the next book, so I’d be in editing mode. It’s often easier to edit something than to come with something brand new, especially if you’re already a bit spacey. Given a choice, I’d rather work on nonfiction when I have a challenging schedule. I can do bits and pieces of research any time, for any amount of time, and cut and paste everything into one big Scrivener document. And the novel is going to be finished one way or another because it’s definitely part of my career plan.

That being said, the other argument for the novel is a) NaNo is National Novel Writing Month not National Put Words on the Page Month, and b) it’s always been a time that you spent working on the novel you haven’t had time for until now. I will make time for it over the next few months, but maybe “now” is a good time to start.

I could also look at it from a strictly business perspective: which product is likely to earn me more money faster, the ebook about the business aspects of a writing career, or the book about a girl trying to get the attention of the boy she’s always loved? 🙂 Probably the business book. But you never know!

I’m leaning toward the business book. The business aspects of a writing career – record keeping, taxes, expenses, opportunity cost, business planning, goal setting, time management – comprise the overwhelming majority of my thoughts lately. I’m also giving two short talks on the topic in the next few weeks, and I’m preparing a workshop proposal for the RWA conference next year. Seems like maybe now is the time to go with the flow. What do you think?

Have you decided what you’re going to write yet? We have a week and a half left to make notes and prepare an outline. Oh sorry, that’s me. You pantsters have a week and a half to let your mind wander. 😉 Let me know what you’re doing. Maybe it will help me decide.

NaNoWriMo Plans?

          It is almost time for NaNoWriMo! The writer’s equivalent of the Boston Marathon. A quick Google search reveals there are a lot of blogs discussing getting ready for NaNoWriMo. What are you doing to get ready for NaNoWriMo?

          Me? I have no idea. Truth is, I haven’t really been writing much at all the past six months or so. Ok, let’s be honest. I haven’t been writing at all. This blog, some journal writing and emails or chat sessions is the only writing I’ve done in months. Understandable perhaps, considering my circumstances, but that needs to change.

          As Writing Survivor suggests, I’m going to get ready for NaNoWriMo by writing. Or maybe I’ll play “what if?” as suggested by Storyist.

          But what am I going to actually write? Do I plan to write one scene each day? Or do I plan by plot points and milestones ala Storyfix?

          Or maybe I don’t want to write a story. Maybe I want to be a NaNo Rebel. Should I join others who are rewriting or journaling? Should I work on non-fiction projects?

          At least one person plans to reinvent NaNoWriMo into NaNoGaDeMon (National Game Design Month)

          While that sounds interesting, I think I’ll stick with writing this year. I’m not sure what I will write, but it is time to glue my butt to the chair and my fingers to the keyboard.

          What about you? What’s your plan for this November’s NaNoWriMo?

Stop and Focus

Stephanie was talking about Margie Lawson’s Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors class a couple of weeks ago. Her post reminded me that I bought the lecture packet over two years ago (Stephanie took the class) and I still haven’t had/made time to finish reading it all and doing all the work. In fact, the last lecture I can remember doing was number two. Not very helpful to buy something but not use it.

I thought about that again this week when I was trying to figure out how to get all my homework done, prepare for the RWA conference in June (i.e., polish and submit work to agents beforehand), spend time with our friends from out of town, and do the usual stuff like pay bills and wash clothes. My brain was turning faster and faster until I was stressed out with tight aching shoulders and a headache. Not helpful, either.

Then when I was in the shower – don’t we all think best there? – I decided that I need to learn to keep my mind in a quiet peaceful place all the time so it can do what it does best: think. And I need to keep my body calm and relaxed all the time so it can work longer without getting tied up in knots. (My chiropractor would like that, too!) The only way I know to do that is to stop and re-focus at regular intervals.

I can get about 70% clear in my mind when I stop for a moment and re-focus on the task at hand. I stop letting myself think about other things that need to be done while I’m trying to work on something else. If necessary, I take a moment to make a list of all the other things a part of my brain is working on, then I put the list to the side and put all of my brain back on my current task. But that doesn’t alleviate all of my stress, not for long, because I’m also thinking about how much time I have to finish this task and how I need to hurry and switch to the other things on the list as soon as possible. So I’m less stressed, but not calm. However, when I focus on the big picture of my whole life, I see everything in greater perspective. Then I can calmly focus on the task at hand or even choose to switch tasks in light of the big picture.

For instance, I’ve always been a perfectionist about school. I want all A’s all the time. Or here in Australian university, I want all HD’s (High Distinction). I could probably get HD’s if I kept my focus entirely on school and schoolwork, if I didn’t let anything else distract me from it ever, if I put a lot more hours in. But the fact is that no one cares what my grades are except me. It will never make a difference in the future if I had mostly D’s (Distinction) instead of mostly HD’s.

It will make a difference that I have the degree and that I learned a lot and can apply the information in my future work, but the grades themselves won’t matter. So instead of stressing about making my homework perfect, I need to balance my efforts with other important areas of my life – a healthy amount of sleep and exercise, paying my bills on time (a forgetful area for me when I’m stressed and overworked), and a few social activities.

So this morning I decided to start my day by remembering how I have learned to stop and re-focus in the past. I closed my eyes and took three long deep breaths. I focused on letting my neck and shoulders and back relax because that’s where I hold my stress. Then I pulled all my thoughts inward like an octopus or spider pulling its legs in. Instead of thinking to some degree about a dozen different things at once – I know you know what I mean – I brought it all down to one thought: What is the big picture of God’s purpose for me?

When I can bring all my thoughts into line with that one question I get the most clarity and peace. (On stressful days, I have to do this several times a day.) In the big picture, is the most important thing to do to stress about and work toward getting a higher grade? Or can I understand what this homework assignment, and this class, and this degree mean in a bigger way to my career as a whole?

Conversely, what has greater eternal value – five days focused on enjoying our friends and deepening our relationships, or five days of half-listening while also half-focusing on homework and writing? I’d have more homework done at the end of the week, but this friendship has eternal value and the homework has fleeting value. I can spend the days after they leave madly catching up. My grade might suffer a little; it might not. But when I look at my list of tasks (the bigger items than the “to do list” – because I did stop and pay bills while our friends were here!), I can evaluate them in terms of long-term importance as well as how their urgency is related to importance.

I don’t know if this will be helpful to you, but this is the only way I know to relax while still trying hard to do my best in life. When I focus on God and hear his quiet voice in my mind and in my heart, I find peace that lasts all day long. (I even sleep better.) That peace leads to greater joy. And joy leads me to write more and accomplish more, even as I’m also slowing down. It’s a paradox I can’t explain. But I’m learning to build a habit of stopping more often and focusing this way. Just in case it helps you, I wanted to share.

I hope you have a wonderful writing week, and I hope you take time to stop and re-focus on what you’re trying to accomplish in the big picture.

Stress-free Writing All Year

This month we’re all making the handoff between last year’s partially accomplished goals and this year’s fresh new and exciting goals. In the online class I’m teaching this month on goal setting and time management for writers, we’re using an annual planning calendar to find out how many days we really have for writing. Once we know that number and plan around it, we can create goals that can be achieved with a minimum of stress and guilt.

Take a 12-month calendar you can use just for writing. There are pros and cons for using the large laminated year-at-a-glance type, and the monthly flip calendar, so decide which one you prefer and dive in. Begin by crossing off all the days you already know you won’t be available for writing. That list will be different for each of us – birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, public holidays, kids’ school events, etc.

When you’ve crossed out everything you can think of, decide how many sick days you want to plan for. Also choose a number of days for emergencies. (The number will depend on your situation, the people who depend at you at work and home, the number of days last year that something came up unexpectedly, etc.) Count the total number of days you still have available on the calendar, then subtract the sick days and emergency days. This is the number of days you have for the year that you can plan your writing around.

You may also want to plan for some catch-up padding, especially if you’re chronically behind. One way to pad your time is to cross off the last three open days of the month, every month. That automatically gives you a full month of “extra time” for the year – 3 times 12 equals 36 days.

Let’s say you end up with 200 days in 2011 that you can devote X number of hours each day to your writing. Now you need to look at your goals and break them down into the number of hours each will take. For instance, if you can write 500 words a day without a problem, and you plan to write the first draft of a category romance of 50,000 words, it will take you about 100 days, or half of your year. If it takes you twice as long to edit and revise as it does to pound out the first draft, you need another 200 days.

That means you could produce a 50,000 word book every 18 months without stress or guilt. And by stress and guilt I mean feeling like you should be doing something else when you’re writing, or feeling like you should be writing when you’re doing something else. That is the kind of situation this type of planning can help you avoid. After all, you crossed off the holidays and vacation days and birthdays that you wanted to focus on. You’re free!

Now you’ll have to look at all of your goals for the year – which may also include showering every day, sleeping for 6-8 hours a night, driving to the grocery store, etc. – and figure out if you have more goals than can be accomplished in 52 168-hour weeks. If you have too many goals for the next 12 months, you’re setting yourself up for failure. But if you can do the math today and see that before it happens, you can make changes now and end up with a plan that truly can be accomplished.

Good luck!

Year-in-Review Questions

I’m getting ready to write up my goals for next year. The following are the questions I’m asking myself this week—looking back in order to plan ahead. Maybe they can help you, too. Don’t be super quick in answering these questions. Mull on them and allow your subconscious time to work.

Routines

  • Do you have any? Which ones are working the best? Which ones do you need to change?
  • How often are you writing/editing? -Hours/day? Words/day?
  • Are you consistent?
  • Are you organized?
  • Do you have a place, a time, a trigger (like after your morning coffee)?
  • Do you have accountability? (like NaNoWriMo, critique partners, contest deadline, calendar where you record your time or words?)

WIP

  • Do you have a clear idea about what you are writing?
  • What is your deadline?
  • Are you working towards a finished product?

Submissions

  • How many places did you submit to?
  • What was the response?
  • How did you respond to the feedback you received?
  • What do you think you need to change?

Platform building

  • What is your level of participation in social networking? Twitter? Facebook? Commenting on other’s blogs?
  • Are you growing as a blogger? Trying new things? Giving your best?
  • What about your brand—know what it is? Know how to find out?
  • Published authors: insert whole slew of other questions I don’t know about yet! (appearances, etc)

Education

  • What did you do to become a better writer this year? (Classes, self-education, books on writing, blogs, analysis of successful books, going to book signings to learn from other writers.)
  • What did you learn about writing this year that you didn’t know previously?
  • What was your writing strength? What was your weakness?
  • What would you really, really, really like to do better, technically?

Last Year’s Goals:

  • Did you achieve them? Why or why not?
  • Were they realistic? Measurable?
  • Do you need to carry any of them over to next year?

Emotional Inventory

  • How are you feeling about your year?
  • Do you feel rushed and need to slow down?
  • Discouraged that you’re not doing enough and want to do more?
  • Do you need a little break or some encouragement?
  • Are you enjoying what you are doing?
  • Are your feelings valid or do you need to adjust your thinking/feeling?

Final thoughts

What is the one big thing you didn’t like about your writing or writing routines this year?

What is the one best thing about your writing or writing routines this year?

Okay, your turn:

What are the questions you are asking yourself at the end of this year?

Instead of NaNo

I am thrilled to say I am really and truly done with school! (For the summer.) Yay! I’m beginning to relax and sleep better and yesterday I spent the better part of the day and all of the evening catching up with friends. Ahhh. Life is good.

But I’m not slacking off. John and I walked down to the beach and ate our favorite fish and chips on Saturday to celebrate the end of school and beginning of summer. We discussed my school plans, my career plans, my hopes to attend a major writer’s conference in New York City next June, and we came up with a plan we could both live with. One that means I’m writing every day even if John is home and available to have fun. One that means I’m occasionally writing in the evening. Even if John is home and available to have fun. (You can see my biggest weakness when it comes to my writing routines!)

Instead of working on a novel for NaNoWriMo this year, I worked on two short pieces and submitted them to the anthology my university publishes every year. I received an email that the deadline has been extended for another few days, so I’ll see if I have anything else that could be submitted. A friend of mine is entering the Writer’s Digest Short Story Contest and now I’m wondering if I have anything appropriate to submit to that before December 1. On the one hand, I’m thrilled that I’m submitting more this year – one of my goals from January. On the other hand, I have to keep in mind my new summer goals and not get sidetracked.

Besides writing, I’m also working on my Kitty Bucholtz, Author web site. Did you know that if you own an Apple computer you can go down to your local Apple Store and take workshops there for free? I’m learning the iWeb program so I can get a decent web site up quickly. It’s a template, so it’ll look like lots of other people’s web sites, but at least I’ll have a web presence and be able to start creating a Kitty presence. (Don’t worry, I won’t be leaving Routines for Writers.) I’m learning how to create podcasts in some of the Apple workshops, too. And I’m making plans for creating “how to” material to both give away and sell. I hate to think I know things that other people don’t when I’m willing to share.

I’m also going to try to catch up on my reading this summer. (A time-honored tradition.) I read most of ON WRITING WELL by William Zinsser, a book I’ve been encouraged to read for years. If you haven’t read it, let me encourage you to read or skim it as well. Though it’s aimed at writing nonfiction, I found a lot of useful information that will help me in fiction as well.

I also read HOW TO WRITE TALES OF HORROR, FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION edited by J.N. Williamson. I wanted to learn more about these because of some of my assignments in my Popular Fiction class. If this book is in your library, go read Chapter 22 “Fantasy and Faculty X” by Colin Wilson. It’s about our left and right brain and how to slow down the left side so it’s running in tandem with the right side allowing us to be more creative. You should go read it so I don’t have to worry about explaining it incorrectly. But let me just say – there is an excellent reason why writers want to daydream a lot. It helps us be more creative! Yay!

Planning for a Writing Push

Whether you’re getting ready for a writing routine like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), a weekend retreat or – like me – a summer break from university, I find I get a lot more done during the allotted time if I’ve taken a moment to look at the big picture. Whether you’re a plotter or a pantster, a little advance planning can go a long way to ensuring maximum success.

What must be done before the push?

I’m going on a weekend writing retreat with my writer’s group at the end of the month. One of the first things I do when preparing for an event is check my calendar. Australian taxes are due that weekend so I need to make sure I’ve mailed them before then. If I have any blogs due around that period, I’ll write them earlier and set them to post on the correct day.

In order to focus on getting the most amount of writing done that weekend, we’re planning some very easy meals – bagged salad, baked chicken, apples and nuts for snacks. Because I’m the primary grocery shopper at home, and because John is having a Guy’s Xbox Party while I’m gone, I’ve already started buying things that are on sale (cookies this week! Okay, so it won’t be all nutritious snacks!) that I think we’ll need for our weekend events. The day I get home is a birthday party, so I’ll make sure the card and gift are ready, too. This is all shopping I’ll have to finish at least a day or two before I leave. (And I have to keep up with all my homework, too!)

Also, if there’s time, I’ll try to get some brainstorming done, get my work for the weekend organized, etc. Too often, this ends up being the first thing I do during my writing push because I was doing all those other things to get ready to leave. 🙂

What must be done during the push?

It’s easier to decide how I feel about a weekend or week or NaNo if I know what I’m aiming for. Sometimes, just writing every day is a success. Other times, I want to get a certain number of words written, or get to a certain point in the project. When I make a goal, even a range (for example, aim for 50,000 words during NaNo, choose to be happy if I hit 35,000), it gives me a better idea of whether I think I did well, or whether I need to change how I do things in order to get more done next time.

Let me encourage you to make your goals your own. If you don’t write 50,000 words during NaNo or you don’t write a book in a week (BIAW), it’s only a problem if you think it is. There are plenty of ways to choose your goal – a certain number of words or chapters written, a certain amount of editing, finish a section or the project, write a synopsis, write flat out without stopping to think about your choices (this can be fun), write for a certain number or minutes or hours per day or per week, or anything else you can come up with. Be as risky or as safe as you want.

There are some things that need to be done – avoiding distractions – that are more like “things not to do.” Consider using an email vacation reply if your writing push is short enough like a week or a weekend. You could choose not to look at and/or answer email at all until your writing day is over. You could give yourself a one-hour lunch break every day when you can do anything you want – including email. I think you can see now that I think email is the biggest distraction! 🙂 I bought a downloadable program called Freedom that disables my Internet connection for a user-determined number of minutes. That also keeps me from too much Internet research when I want to be writing.

What might you plan to do after?

Depending on the length of the push – a weekend or a month – you may feel nearly overwhelmed by the catch-up work that comes later. I’ve found that sometimes the number of things I put off in November to hit my 50,000-word target have kept me in catch-up mode into January because Christmas takes away most of my “free” time in December. I haven’t always thought NaNo worth it come January. By then I feel so behind, and I often haven’t written much on the project that I just spent a whole month straight working on – so I’ve lost momentum, too.

But if I can plan some time into my calendar for catch-up work, the strain is less. Consider blocking out some time in the first week back for extra email time, laundry, shopping, extra family time, and to organize what you did during the push so that you lose the least amount of momentum. I’ve heard too many friends say they hate taking a vacation because coming back to work after a week or two is punishing. They are overwhelmed at how behind they are or feel they are. Other friends spend a grueling amount of time at work in the week before to try to offset the pain in coming back. It doesn’t matter how you handle it, but if you think about it before you even leave, you may find there are ways to lessen the burden.

I hope this gives you some food for thought as you prepare for your next writing push. If you’re going to do NaNoWriMo this year, some of these ideas may help you get more accomplished without running yourself ragged. I’m going to use these principles for my 3-day writing retreat in a few weeks, and then again for my 3-month summer break from university starting mid-November. I’ll have to adjust the planning for a very short period and for a very long period.

If you have any planning methods that help you during NaNo or BIAW or any other writing push, share them here. It’s always fun to find new ways to get more writing done!

Note: If you’re interested in more on this topic, I’ll be teaching an online class on goal-setting and time management in January. Check back for more details in the next couple months!

Get Your Work Out – Where?

If you are writing for an audience, or ever hope to – unless you are going to keep your writing to yourself forever – at some point you have to get your work in front of people. Does that mean only the lofty goal of finishing a novel and sending it to an agent or editor?

Not necessarily.

Your stress over this should decrease when you remember you are in charge. You are the writer and you get to decide who sees your work. So where do you want to start? Arguably, the easiest place to start is with a trusted friend. This person is someone who has already shown an interest in your interests. If you’re writing fantasy, this person likes fantasy and has wanted to read your work. If you write romance, this person reads romance and has wanted to read your work. See the theme? They already like you and your genre. This is someone you think you can trust with balancing how much they love your work (every writer needs a few of those people) with ideas or thoughts on improvements.

As you get comfortable sharing with one person, you’ll want to branch out. Look for a writing class (an adult education class or something at a library will probably be the least expensive) or a critique group or writing group. The idea here is that you will be presenting your work to the group for feedback. A critique group or a workshop will often be led by someone (or a few someones) who are far enough along in the process to be helpful to you. A group that feels like the blind leading the blind may not be what you’re looking for. (On the other hand, people in that group will eventually learn to see and they can help each other learn together.)

Along the same lines, joining a larger organization (Romance Writers of America, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, etc.) and/or going to a writers conference can often be a big help. You meet more like-minded people. You have greater access to learning and to avenues for feedback. You may get to hear speakers who can help direct your writing. You can also take online classes, some of which give feedback on student work. (You generally don’t have to be a member of a group to take a writing class. Most online writing classes charge members a lower rate, but open the class to anyone.) Or, like me, you may decide to get quite formal with your educational process and enroll in a degree program in creative writing.

Most of these choices do not involve very much of the dreaded R word – rejection. Work through some or all of these options to improve your writing before you send it out. There’s a good chance that work will improve your odds of selling your work.

This year, I sent out a proposal to teach a workshop on Routines for Writers to the Romance Writers of Australia for their national conference. I received a very nice rejection email saying they had more proposals for good workshops than they were able to use. (As is usually the case with rejections, it’s hard to say if that means mine was otherwise good enough. But there were more workshops proposed that the conference committee deemed better than mine, so I am looking for ways to improve it for next time.)

I also sent a short article to Writer’s Digest magazine early this year. I haven’t heard back from them yet, but I’m determined to react maturely – a quick scream if I get a yes, a quick swiping at wet eyes if I get a no.  {grin}  In any case, I plan on sending more work out this year. No matter how difficult it is to – and this is the big one for me – decide if it’s good enough yet to be published.

I’ve reached a place in my writing where the only step forward is to get my work out there. See what happens. See what is said by whom. What sells? What doesn’t? Is it the writing, or is it less-than-perfect choices in who I’m sending the work to?

What stage are you in? Are you still trying to get up the courage to let someone read your work? Or are you sending it out to potential buyers? You certainly don’t have to send your work out. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Unless you want people to read it. Even then, perhaps you’d be happy to have a blog that your friends and family read. Or to write stories for the children in your life. I’ve done both of those things, and I got a lot of satisfaction from them. But if you’re like me, and you want to be published – for the sake of being published or because you want to influence the world for the better – you need to start thinking about your strategy.

Do you have one?

Keeping Track—Yearly Plan

All this talk about word points and spreadsheets this week is giving me hives! However, it’s also got me thinking about where I’m headed. So here are my simple thoughts on how to progress forward and keep track of what I’m doing at the same time.

 

I’m working towards getting as organized as Karen Wiesner, outliner and planner extraordinaire, author of First Draft in 30 Days. She’s written enough novels to know how long each step takes her and can plan on a calendar to the day when her book will be finished. (She wrote a whole blog series for us last Oct/Nov.)

 

I’m still learning how long it takes me to write a first draft, second draft, etc, but my goal is a book-a-year turnaround.

 

Here is my big picture rotation (writing routine!) involving three categories: marketing, editing, writing. The categories should probably go writing, editing, and marketing, but I happen to be at the marketing stage with Book #1 (unless that doesn’t pan out and I have to stick it back into the editing stage!) so that’s where I’m starting. Each project will fit into one of these categories. “Simmer” could be another category, but I think that is more of a transition step between each category.

 

Summer (July-Sept):

 

Book #1—marketing: submit to contests and agents

Book #2—editing: second draft (First Draft has been sitting and simmering)

Book #3—writing: thinking about and taking notes in prep for First Draft during the Fall

 

Fall (Oct-Dec):

 

Book #1—marketing: depends on success of Summer campaign

Book #2—editing: set aside again to simmer in prep for Final EDITS.

Book #3—writing: write First Draft, NaNoWriMo

 

Winter (Jan-March):

 

Book #1—marketing:

Book #2—editing: Final EDITS pass

Book #3—writing: if needed, finish up First Draft, set aside to simmer

 

Spring (April-June):

 

Book #1—marketing

Book #2—marketing

Book #3—editing: second draft

Book #4—writing: thinking about and making notes.

 

What do you think? Does it make sense? Am I missing anything? Of course, within each category I’m also working on routines to follow each time. But that’s for another blog.

 

I need a name for this plan. The MEW plan? The WEM? Category Outline? Hmmm….oops, getting distracted. Stick to the plan. Back to editing Book #2.