I have concocted a plan (it is not a resolution for the New Year, I never go in for that sort of commitment each year, it can be demoralising at times), but the plan is a sort of schedule of a kind of commitment to my writing; specific writing, not just any old writing – this is a new technique I am starting as from the 1st February 2022.
From the 1st of February 2022 I will allocate Friday and Saturday as a weekend for me, as those days work best as a weekend for me than any other day, because those are my busiest family and shopping days, when I could get out and about. I have also allocated the time slot between Sunday and Thursday where I know I am least likely to be interrupted by the household on a day to day basis, which is 1pm to 3pm. This 1pm to 3pm time slot is my time block for working solely on one specific novel only.
I have chosen to write a minimum of 1k words during this time per day, with the goal to finish 5k words in one week and 20k words in one month. If I do not manage to write 1k in two hours of writing (which will be very unlikely), then I will work over that time until I do!
Normally, when I set out to write my stories, I tend to write an average of 500 to 750 words every fifteen minutes, if the story has been rigorous planned beforehand.
By forcing myself to use the regular time slot of 1 to 3pm each day, I hope to eventually build a habit, where my mind will trick itself into focusing on one single project at that particular time of the day and therefore I should become more productive.
I am doing this because I would like to be the sort of author that can finish at least three books per year. I have always worked best with a schedule and deadline and unfortunately Paul is not very good at keeping to timetables and so forth, so he is not the person who will help push me… I have to learn to figure it out for myself until I develop professional relationships that will do that for me eventually.
I have pinned messages on walls around the house to remind me on what I should be focusing on. All of this was advice from a book I borrowed from the local library called “The One Thing” by Gary Keller; the messages I have pinned around the house are “UNTIL MY WRITING IS DONE… EVERYTHING ELSE IS A DISTRACTION!” and I have also made another message which says “1K WORDS PER DAY IS 5 BOOKS A YEAR”!
1k words per day are very doable, but it wasn’t focused on anything in particular.
I spent the whole of January trying to figure out my writing habits and typing them up on a spreadsheet to see what projects and things I am likely to write day to day, how many words per project I do each time and how long each time I spend writing towards them; The spreadsheet was a revelation.
I spread myself around nine different projects and most of those projects are years old! I write an average of 1500 words per subject and approximately 90 minutes per day. However, I mostly focus on future blog writing, diary entries, journal entries and research notes, more than I do my actual novel writing. Using a pie chart, I learned that the average time I spent adding towards a novel was around 20 minutes every 3 days and just under 1500 words each time. In other words, I spent a lot of my writing time, not writing towards stories, but just playing around with ideas.
I felt there has to be a change in order for me to become productive.
As from the 1st February 2022 I will use the time slot of 1pm to 3pm to write towards one specific project daily until it is complete, then I will store it away for six weeks and look at it with fresh eyes to edit. But during the maturing process as I will call it, I will immediately start on a new piece of work and so on and so on.
Any research papers, journaling, diary entries and blogging must be done outside of the hours of 1pm and 3pm, or else things will never change.
During writing the story, I will not interject ideas into the story as I am doing the first drafts either, it should be following the direction of the plan that I have laid out beforehand. If my brain does another direction, then so be it, but it must be written like it is intended to be the final draft, though it won’t be.
I feel this is how I am going to get things done.
I am so dedicated to this new system starting on the 1st February, that I am not even making myself feel bad about not completing anything right now. I seeing it as a sort of holiday – Paul thinks I need to do this too, he felt that I needed to have days off and I was always very angry at the idea of that – primarily because my imagination has never had a day off in its entire existence. But I think, doing the actual work, does need to have days where I can allow myself time to relax from it.
I have made a holiday schedule for myself of days I won’t force myself to write at all, those weekend days, Friday and Saturday, but also bigger blocks of time where I can guiltlessly do other things if I want to. I have allowed myself time blocks for Henry’s school holidays and other days in the year which are typically busy for me, though the six weeks summer holiday I have only blocked out three weeks, because I feel six weeks is just too long a time.
I can write if I want to, outside of those hours, but I am not going to be unkind to myself if I don’t!
I know all told I have blocked out 136 days a year, more than anyone would in normal jobs, but I do know that I push myself when I know I am expected to and I know I tend to do so much all at once that I easily burn out.
I don’t know if any of you remember that a few years ago, I think it was 2017, not sure, that I did NaNoWriMo and I did 60k words by the 19th November and I completely wore myself out creatively for over two years because of it. I came to the computer with dread of revisiting the project and writing any novel at all. It was a really hard hurdle to get over.
I can’t go there again.
But I do know, at my writing speed and rigorous planning habit, that I will be able to produce three books per year by doing this new method.
I never said it is going to be easy, but I do know my limitations and I understand that keeping to two hours per day will be a doddle for me. But, I do know this is not a perfect world and most of my hospital appointments are usually around 12 to 2pm, on those particular days I will have to force myself to do my 2 hours later in the day or try to reschedule the appointments.
Happy reading everyone!
P.S I know I said 1k per day is 5 books per year, but my aim is only 3 and I won’t be working every single one of the 365 days of the year!