I haven’t written anything in my novel for two weeks.
There, I said it. Now the world knows.
Well, the world would know if the world read my blog. Someday, the world may know my shame.
I’d like to blame it on a combination of work and the new season of Orange is the New Black demanding my attention. I could weasel out by saying I’ve been working on the outline. I could say that, because I have finally gotten to scenes that are not being rewritten and take place in a new setting, I need to get the outline done first.
And, in a way, that’s correct.
But it’s also still kind of a cop-out.
I keep saying that I want to make writing a career and I haven’t been doing that lately. I need to try to infuse some fresh ideas and energy into my work. I need to really figure out my routine.
At heart, I’m a scientist. And a writer. A scientist who writes. No…
A writer who sciences.
I like my logical, rational order and methodology and I fall back on them quite often in my paid, regular work. So why not use that when I’m trying to jumpstart my writing career?
Therefore, I propose an experiment.
Over the next three weeks, my calendar is fairly normal. I have designed three different methods for scheduling my writing.
First, what writing needs to be done?
1) Blog posts (two per week)
2) Novel (two or more chapters a month)
– includes outline work
3) One short story (adaptation of a dark fiction story from my college days, does not need to be finished)
– includes outline work
So, by the end of this experiment I should have:
Two new novel chapters
Six new blog posts (including this one)
A partial or completed first draft for a short story
I can do that…right? I guess we’ll find out.
My experiment design is to test three different weekly writing schedules and goals.
Week One: The Plan and Write
This plan divides tasks into weekday and weekend day tasks.
Weekdays: Foundational content
Weekend: New content
I have a lot of outlining to do before I can write the next chapters or a new short story. So for this week, I will focus on using the weekdays to write planning content (outlines, character and setting sketches, etc.), using whatever feels most natural (outline imported into Scrivener vs. Canvas-sized paper and markers etc.).
New content means writing actual prose. The word count goal will be a modest 4,000 words for the whole weekend. If I can’t come up with 4,000 words after 5 days of planning, I’ll know something is seriously wrong with this methodology.
Week Two: The Write and Edit
This plan sort of reverses week one’s plan and, in that way, it might be considered a bit of a cheat.
Weekdays: New content
Weekends: Edit/rewrite (NO NEW CONTENT)
I’ve tried this plan before but I always get caught up in wanting to write new content after editing, then I never edit/rewrite that content. The goal here is to generate enough new content to be able to spend no fewer than 3 hours editing what I wrote before.
I’ve considered a different version of this plan that combines this with week one, where I use the weekends for new content and the weekdays for editing, but I find I really need to schedule time for planning, writing, and editing. I can’t throw them together. This plan will be helpful in figuring out how to manage the planning AND the new content in time for the editing.
This is the plan I have least faith in but, if successful, it will get me to be a better weekday writer.
Week Three: The Goal-Oriented Plan
Week three is when I get to test out my new planner (which starts in July) and use it to set a series of little deadlines that then drive the work. I think what usually gets me with this kind of plan is saying I need to have X amount of chapters or whatever done in X amount of [insert units of time here]. The Goal-Oriented Plan sets a couple deadlines and then evaluates the pace to set future deadlines accordingly. This is the plan I have the most faith in.
This plan is last because, by the end of this, I should have met my project goals as outlined above.
I think the winning combination is going to be primarily week 3’s plan but I am hoping to learn a lot about how I can fit writing into my daily schedule with the first two weeks. I often underestimate or overestimate my needs, this is meant to help me learn them.
SPOILER ALERT: The next three Monday posts will be updates of these little projects. Check out the next couple Thursday Thoughts for some thoughts (ha! Get it?) on following your dreams and why you shouldn’t (and, yet, somehow do).