When it comes to the writing game, organization is critical to any type of success. From creative to financial, nothing comes to fruition without maintaining a level of organization in the day to day operation of your writing business.
Remember that? Yeah, it’s still a business. We might tell incredible stories about spaceships and kick ass women with mysterious elemental powers but at the end of the day we have to pay some bills, right?
Scheduling is absolutely key and one of the areas I constantly revisit when figuring out my calendar. Take each step of the process – from outlining to drafting to editing. Add in everything necessary. Communication delays with the cover artist? Make sure it is built into the schedule. Editor booked until later in the year? Make sure you know what is going on in the world around you.
Much as I would like to think the universe stops for my deliberations – and it damn well should! – I wake up every morning hopeful in my attempts to GET AHEAD of schedule.
But the schedule comes first. And not just for one project, one week or even one month. But a year out. At all times. At least.
That might be difficult to imagine. The schedule won’t be perfect. It can’t be. There are too many variables, too many pieces pulling in different directions. By looking at the macro – the big picture of the business of writing – you can see pockets of time for these last minute calamities that WILL occur no matter the amount of planning involved.
What do I use for this?
There are tons of calendar apps out there and I really need to upgrade my method here but I stick with the Outlook calendar. I list out each event, the time involved and plan accordingly, stretching out four to six months at a time per project. I am actually trying to nail down the specifics for 2019 at the moment so I’m hopeful it’s working.
From the macro to the nitty-gritty
Macro is great. It gives you perspective. It gives you wiggle room to shift and play with the overall plan in place. But what about the day to day?
When it comes to my calendar, the big things make it there. Drafting. Outlining. Editing. Cover Design. Publication Dates. Marketing initiatives. When it comes to the day to day operation that is my basement office, there is nothing better than a legal pad and a pencil.
I make a list every Sunday for the week. On that list are tasks ranging from this very blog you’re reading to making sure a tweet is scheduled about another author’s new release.
Some are date specific and noted as such. Others are carryover tasks from the previous week. (Really, who has time to clean up their email?) Each is essential to making sure I can find the time to write. Every line I can check off makes it that much easier to fit in some time for a new book, a new series, whatever.
Organization when it comes to the creative side
That’s the business side. Yeah, it’s drab – unless you like checklists which are the BEST – however, I enjoy looking at that side of things and finding new ways to explore the creative side with the time allotted through careful planning.
For organizing plots on future books?
I use OneNote. I know, WINDOWS. I had a Windows phone (I was the one, yes), so sue me. When I take a walk to clear my head, rather than pack the legal pad and pencil I have the app open so I can punch in random thoughts ranging from a line of dialogue to a crucial plot element that I had been missing for months.
It works. Everything is broken down into pages. I have a page for each of the Greystone books. I have one for the overall map of the series – even the beginning stages of the second cycle.
When I’m working on a project I tend to map out the plot in OneNote. I’ll break down each chapter or I’ll follow a specific character from start to finish to see where they head and how they connect to other characters later explored in this manner. It helps me see the story before getting too far along the process.
It also helps me see if there is an actual story in the mix or if I need to sleep on it more.
Systems, systems, systems
Obviously, every writer is different in their approach. Everyone handles the workload differently. The very idea of scheduling is anathema to some writer’s – though those people are CRAZY.
Find your system and make it work for you. Then refine it. Play with it. Map it out.
Now go write!