Monday, February 21, 2011

Starting with the Top 5

Last week I told you we'd talk about prioritizing the GOALS and breaking them down into manageable units. The Top Five were:

1 - Finish rough draft of Winter's Peace
2 - Finish rough draft of Autumn's Healing
3 - Finish rough draft of Death By Design
4 - Finish rough draft of Gangster's Lady
5 - Enter/ place in Arkansas Writers competition (multiple categories)

I'm going to reverse #1 and #2... putting Autumn's Healing first.
Autumn’s Healing was my Nano 2010 Novel (see pretty button to the right). It has a ways to go from being finished, but it’s closer so I want to do it first.

Before I go any farther let me explain something I learned by trial and error last year. Some writers can write all day, some early morning and others late into the night. Me, I’m an Evening Writer. I can work on shorter pieces throughout the day, but my novel-length comes later in the day. I don’t know if it’s because I have to get the daily stuff out of the way so I can focus on the other world or what.

I word sprint with a group of writers on Yahoo Instant Message. That means we meet in a conference room, someone is in charge of the timer and we write for a set period of time. We take a health/ stretch/ food break at the end of the period and then go again. You can find out more about how this works at Endurance Most recently our time sprints have run in 45-minute increments with 15-minute breaks. When we would do these all day on Friday – beginning at 9 a.m. CST and ending twelve hours later (with a lunch/ dinner break somewhere in there), I documented my word count for each sprint. The later the day, the higher the word count would climb.

So I work on short pieces like blog entries and short stories for contest entries during the day. Then about 4 p.m., my brain switches to longer length mode. I pull up the manuscript file and will sprint from about 4 p.m. if I’m home alone (6 p.m. if Bob is home) until 9 or 10 o’clock. Sometimes I sprint with the group. Other times I just bury myself in alone. I do know that I get a much higher word count during sprints. Sprinting is like Nanoing in minutes. You don’t take time to puzzle things out… you just write. The puzzling things out comes later.

So this will be my process for the Top 5. Short stuff like those contest entries during the day and noveling at night.

Now the big thing. I said we’d talk about a Time Line. Time Line’s are important. If you don’t set a deadline for something you’re more apt than not to do one of two things. Either you’re going to drag it out, thinking it still needs ‘something’. Or you’re going to keep putting it off, never finishing it so you can move on to something else. But how do you set a deadline?

For editors, this is easy. They know when things have to go to print. With that date in mind, they know when they must have it in their hands. Setting SELF-IMPOSED DEADLINES are great practice for when you have to meet that editor’s deadline. If you don’t train yourself to meet a deadline, it is my opinion you’ll never see publication. That simple.

Autumn’s Healing needs approximately another 15,000 words. If I make myself pull up the file and work five nights a week, at a minimum of 1,000 words per night, that’s only 3 weeks. Less than 1 month to finish the rough draft of Autumn’s Healing.

But, I already know I’m having my granddaughter for two weeks in March. Grandpa can occupy her part of the time in the evening, but she likes her TV time with grandma before bed –and we’re sleeping together on the hide a bed. So my nights will be cut short.

Because Bob will be home he can help sometimes, but we’re also going to be going/ doing stuff with her so my daytime writing will be hindered too.

So I’m going to say Six Weeks to finish Autumn’s Healing. That takes me to April 2nd.

See how I did that. Don’t groan but it was all MATH. I knew how many words I needed to finish, how many words I average in an evening AND knew ahead of time of an obstacle I’d have to over come. I entered everything into the equation and came to a solution I can work within.

But what if you don’t know about an obstacle? One that drops into your path like a reindeer on a bad test flight?
Unless it’s something critical, you can count on something coming down based on how your life usually runs. Factor in a cushion. Tack on an extra week if you think you might need it… but try to stay to the original configuration. Remember; short of a death in the family, editors don’t have time for whiney excuses. Practice now how to work around obstacles and still meet your SELF-IMPOSED deadline.

So here I am.
Autumn’s Healing by April 2nd
Arkansas Writers Entries due postal April 30th
I’m hoping to enter 9 categories. That gives me 1 week per entry INCLUDING polishing.

Stay tuned for my progress. On April 4th, I’ll set the new deadline for Winter’s Peace.

Until then….
Keep Writing! Keep Submitting!

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