I’ve always been a fan of planning over chaos. For the most part, it’s just who I am. I don’t like surprises and I’m not very good with being spontaneous. I can do something without planning, but only if I’ve gotten my daily routine done first. If I’m not dressed, filled with tea, medicated and had something to eat, I generally run around like a drunken bat who’s echolocation is broken, while trying to get out the door.
I like rhythm and pattern, it’s comforting to me. But one of the things I’ve always struggled with is keeping my writing organized and consistent. Outlining has never been a strength, and I tend to automatically fight against things like extreme goals or forcing myself to write daily.
Nanowrimo, for example, was a nightmare for me. I’ve nothing against writers who love it – though I do have issues with the concept itself – it usually leads burnout that can linger like a cloud for months afterwards. I’m a much better cheerleader than participant.
But I do want to have some structure to my writing, because I that fear without it I’ll never get anything finished. So I’m trying to build a schedule that works for me. I know I’ve done this previously, in this very journal, but I’m hoping if I keep trying new methods one will stick.
Without further ado, this is the plan: starting in November I’ll be focusing on my contemporary romance Roll for Initiative (previously known as the “Secret Nerd Project”). Using a piece I have started as a template, I know each of my chapters will be roughly 3660 words and the average novel is thirty chapters …
3360 words x 30 chapters per novel = 110,000 words (rounded up)
Next, I decided want to write Monday through Thursday, leaving weekends open to family, reading, gaming, spending time with friends and other things I love. I’m not the type who can write every day. It’s just too much, too much emotion, too much thinking, editing, researching … I need time to not only refill my brain but to rest. Both my brain and my body. I sit virtually all day long, every day [wee, Cerebral Palsy!] so my body can’t handle that level of stress without proper down time.
Plus, can I be honest here? I’ve been writing for at least fifteen years. I think it’s safe to say I am no longer a “new” writer and can break the oft-repeated “write every day!” mantra. Sure, Stephen King does it and that’s great. When I’m getting paychecks at his level, I’ll do that as well. Until then I have my mental health to consider [which always comes first], my physical health, blogging, family time, planning on returning to college, learning to drive — and this doesn’t even count other “fun” stuff like reading, gaming, working on art or spending time with friends.
So fuck that rule.
I also knew that I wanted to start with a low, simple number. 500 words marks about a page for me, which seems as good a goal as any. Enter my second quick round of math.
110,000 words / 500 words a day = 220 days
For most of Monday night (and into Tuesday morning) I sat in front of Calendar trying to figure out how the hell this would all map out. It took about two or three hours – with a few fixes because I fumbled the numbers a touch – but I managed to get it sorted out.
I wish I could’ve just generated a calendar, but I didn’t know how to do that while factoring in the breaks I have planned; a week off for Thanksgiving, two weeks off for Yule and New Years and (possibly) a week off for my birthday. Which means, if all goes to plan and I write the minimum for every day, I’ll finish the first draft on [insert drumroll here] …
December 15, 2016
It seems like a long way away, at a little over a year but I know the time will fly by. Especially in the summer and fall. Right now, my biggest fear is that I’ve over-planned. I have a tendency to swing between going by the seat of my pants or micro-managing myself into insanity. I don’t want to wear myself out or wimp out. I’m shooting for a good, balanced center point because this novel means a lot to me and I really want to give it my best effort.
Which leaves me with only one question. Is it November yet? 🙂