Making A Writing Calendar (Or, Writing A Novel In A Month)

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This Sunday’s #rwchat topic is about Stealing Time To Write and how difficult it can be to find writing time amidst our busy schedules. Here’s Robin Lovett’s strategy for planning her writing when real life threatens to steal it away.

I’m pretty lucky. For the most part, writing is my addiction of choice. When I run out of things to write, that’s when I have a problem. I also love deadlines. When someone is waiting for my work and likes it so much and believes in it so much they’ve contracted me to write it, I get even more excited.

But that doesn’t mean that life never gets in the way. Or edits come back with a half-rewrite (!) and eat a month out of my deadline to write the next book. So I make plans, honest plans, because if they’re not honest, they won’t work.

I work freelance so I have an erratic work schedule. Some days I know I’ll have time to write, but only 1 or 2,000 words. Other days, I know I’ll be so wiped that even when I do have time, I won’t be able to. And then there are those beautiful days when I have large blocks of time and planning for 4 or 5,000 is not unreasonable.

When I’m on deadline though or determined to finish by a certain date, I make a calendar. It gives me peace of mind that, yes, I can do this without killing myself.

This coming month of December, I’ll have an entire book to write. It’s due January 3rd. I can’t start it yet because I still have to get approval from my publisher on the synopsis I wrote. But it should be ready to go soon and I’ll be okay to start writing by December 1, so I’ll share with you the calendar I made.

The “k” stands for a thousand, so each day I will either write 1k (1,000), 2k (2,000), 3k (3,000), 4k (4,000) or truth, zero. My word count total aim is only 55,000, which is within my contracted word count parameters for this particular sci-fi erotic romance series.

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My reasons for making this and sharing it with you are partly selfish. It’s forced me to actually do it, because sometimes, let’s face it, we avoid the discipline practices because we don’t want to do them. It’s hard to be motivated to do this sort of thing since once you’ve made the plan, there’s always the fear of “failure” of not meeting the goal.

That’s why my plan is in PENCIL! At the end of each week I’ve written the perspective total. As the weeks go, I will write in pen the actual total of how much I managed to write. Then I will erase and adjust my goals for the following week to reflect my current total of the previous week—whether it’s above or below my goal.

I have to do this. If I start to feel any sense of failure, it is debilitating. I refuse to do it. I know some days I’ll be capable of more than 4,000 words. And if I’m behind, I can be motivated to write 5 or 6k. I also leave it at 4k because I often like to make dinner plans on weekends and it leaves me time to stop by 5:00pm. But I am also capable of saying, no, I can’t go out. I have to catch up on my word count. And this plan tells me when I need to do that.

Also note, I’ve only started to be able to do this pace in the last year. Even a year ago, I used to finish my books a month before the deadline, so I’d have time to edit. Now I just need a week. We get better and faster as we go. The book I’m writing this December will be my seventh contracted novel, and at least, the fourteenth novel I’ve ever written. (There are some I’m forgetting I’m sure.)

So here’s the thing, KNOW YOUR LIMITS! This calendar I’ve made may be outrageous for you at this point in your career. In which case, ignore it. Make a schedule that’s reasonable. I know it takes me between 60-90 min. to write a thousand words and can clock accordingly for that depending on how many hours I’m free each day. (Note: I work part time and usually only work between 15-20 hours per week. That’s reflected in my schedule.)

Once you’ve reasonably calculated what your honest output is, schedule your deadlines to match. Don’t over estimate yourself. It’s not worth the stress. It can jeopardize your writing.

But as always, take this with a grain of salt. Everyone’s process is different, so this may not work for you. And if it doesn’t, throw it out. Figure out YOUR way!

 

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Robin Lovett writes romance to avoid the more unsavory things in life, like day jobs, housework, and personal demons. When not reading with her cat, she’s busy writing sexy books which may or may not involve anti-heroes, aliens or both.

Her dark romance series is published through SMP Swerve, and her upcoming sci-fi erotic romance series will be released through Entangled Publishing in 2018. She’s represented by Rachel Brooks at BookEnds Literary agency. She writes articles for Heroes & Heartbreakers and diyMFA.com You can always find her on TwitterFacebook, or at www.RobinLovett.com

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