Sunday, January 27, 2013
Setting Writing Routines - by the Day or by the Deadline?
Posted by Jeffe Kennedy
This is less because I'm a creature of habit - because I'm really not - but because this is part of my writing routine. I've deliberately ritualized my writing process, to ensure that I produce work on a regular basis.
So in answer to this week's question, do our writing routines hinge off of what day it is or where we are in a story, I say: Yes.
I'm really tempted to just stop there.
Okay, so here's my deal. And this has changed somewhat over the last year or so.
The What Day It Is Part
I write every day except Saturday (caveat to follow). I write in the morning, which is part of making sure nothing else gets in the way of it. I hit the gym first thing and am usually at my desk by 7am. I write blog posts - either for my blog or guest posts - or fill out interviews - by way of warming up. Then I turn on Freedom and write. I used to write for one hour, then 90 minutes. Now I write for 2.5 hours.
After I finish my writing time - which I'll extend if I have to, to hit my word-count goal, I switch to the day job. I work for an environmental consulting firm and put in 8-9 hours/day on that. Sometimes I have early conference calls or have to talk to junior staff about tasks for the day, so they can get going, but I prefer to concentrate on one thing at a time. Once I switch to day job work, I'm all about that.
The Where I Am in the Story Part
My normal thing, for quite a long time now, has been to write 1,000 words/day. On this relatively lazy (for me) schedule, I'd write every day. All of my tracking spreadsheets are set up for a minimum of 7,000 words each week. There are times (holidays with family, vacations, the occasional sick day) when I don't get this, but usually I do. I've started tracking my monthly word counts. In December, I put in only just-over 12K words. However, I'd deliberately given myself a break after finishing several large projects to enjoy the holidays and I was going back and forth with my editors and agent doing edits on a couple of projects. Edits are word-count killers, alas.
However - and a lot of you who read my personal blog know this - I've been "training" to increase my daily wordcount. So, when I have a deadline to meet, I go for much more. Thus the increase to 2.5 hours in the morning, which lets me get in 2,300-3,000 words per day. With Saturdays off.
I'm on that schedule right now because the 90K e-serial is due at the end of March. I'm also hoping to write an 18-30K novella for an anthology, which is due March 1. My bargain with myself is, if I can hit a certain wordcount on the e-serial by a certain date in February, I can switch off (and likely send what I have so far to the CPs for crazy-check) and write that novella. All of this is with an eye to finishing the e-serial by mid-March, to allow for revision time.
I hold Saturdays in reserve, if I need to ratchet up.
One thing I've discovered is that, if I have a full day to write - a weekend or something like the Martin Luther King holiday - I can get 5,000 words in. That can make up for sick days or blown-to-hell-by-the-day-job days. As Word Whore Linda mentioned last week, padding the schedule and factoring in wiggle-room in case of disruption can make all the difference in meeting those deadlines.
And, with that, I shall publish this post, make my coffee and breakfast and clock in for those 2.5 hours.
See you all on the flip side!