The last year and half have seen a number of changes in my life. I built a house, sold a house, moved to a more rural area – by choice, had to make a big decision about my daytime job, released two collections of short stories, wrote a number of other stories for future collections, and outlined a series of novels. Not to mention all the words I wrote in other stories that needed to get out of my head.
Like we all should from time to time, I have been revaluating my life/writing career over the last month or so. I was at the point where I was unsure where I was going and how I was going to get there. I had plans, lots and lots of plans, but I was having trouble following them. Some may say that I chose too hectic a schedule. Not the case. I gave myself plenty of extra time, and that was part of the problem.
Being me, my plans would be a two word prompt on a sticky note with or without a date beside it, hung on the wall over my desk where I would see it daily. Well that worked for quite a while and then I didn’t notice it any more. Then that old fool Procrastination joined my team and the next thing I knew the deadline date was here and I was not even close to having everything done.
Writing is such a personal thing. There are thousands of books out there on the subject and I’ve read quite a few of them. What works for some does not work for others. What works for a while may not work for the long haul. This is what has happened to me. I had, what I thought, was the perfect method for me, but alas it is no longer working.
The other thing that comes into play here is, as you learn more and more about the craft, you realize there is more to being an author than typing words on a page. There are all kinds of other things you need to be doing and scheduling in to your planner. Blogging, updating social media, cover designing, contacting editors, editing your work, pre-order set up, uploading to vendor sites, marketing, and the list goes on and on.
I searched and searched for information on the writing/getting ready to publish process and found lots of wonderful information out there. I borrowed some lists and I added other dates/to do’s that I want to be aware of and I have come up with a list/plan of the things I need to do in order to be successful.
I’ve tried many methods to keep myself on point. This week I realized although I like to fly by the seat of my pants, I need to have a visual of what needs to be done and when. No more just writing “publish May 30” on a sticky note. I need a daily/weekly list of what I need to do in order to make that May 30 deadline. I also realized that cutting it up into daily portions the task does not seem near as daunting. Imagine looking at a goal of a 1,000 word count as opposed to 40,000. Right there that takes the pressure off. 1,000 words is not as daunting. 40,000?? A whole other story. Literally! Or is that figuratively?
The internet is such a wonderful thing. I looked at different organizational sites and the products they offered. I borrowed parts I liked from many suggestions and I have come up with the one that I think will work best for me, at least for now. I’m sure I will be tweaking it as I go along but for now I have one that I like the look of and that’s half the battle.
I’ve tried electronic schedulers but paper is still my favorite, there is just something about the deadlines being written in the paper scheduler that make them more real to me. I also feel more accountable to the deadlines if I can see them in ink on the page. I get a real sense of accomplishment if I can tick off the completed box or put a line though the item saying it’s complete.
I now have a daily list of the things I need to do and a weekly and monthly overview. At a glance I can see what needs to be done today, next week, next month and I can hold open one page and look at another flipping between the two effortlessly. It took me almost 2 days to add in all the things I could think of that needed to be there and that I could confirm. I still have more dates/deadlines to add, but it is starting to come together.
I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I can recall. Although I have published, I do not want to be a one trick (or two trick) pony. I want to get better at my craft and tell stories that others will enjoy. I’ve spoke with many accomplished authors and asked them for their advice. Although I received many amazing ideas from them all that I will use, the one piece of advice they all gave is:
This is a job. A job like any other you would be employed at and you should treat it as such.
I’ve worked for others for more years that I am willing to admit and the thing that made me the better employee was my trusty day planner – my bosses were always awestruck at how organized I was and that I never missed a deadline (little did they know the real me!). Why did I not think of this before?
So armed with my cool new binder and my fancy hand made pages with everything laid out, I am ready to take the next year and half (and longer) by storm. As for the sticky notes – they still have a place, I’ll use them for adding punches of color when there is something I want to remember but not put permanently in the pages of the planner or to highlight things I really need to get done.
Until next time…