Monday, January 16, 2012

How I Work

Now I know that every writer is different and what works for me may not work for others, but I felt I should share something that's pretty simple that has amped up my novel-editing productiveness quite a bit. (And I suppose it could apply to any big project, not just writing.)

I can't tell you how much time I've wasted on my work-in-progress just sitting there and typing as much as I could in the hour or two of writing time I get each day. I thought just sitting my butt in the chair and typing until I got tired was the best way to work. Problem was, when I went back and read what I'd written the next day, it was weak and often needed two or three more passes before I could get it to the quality level I wanted.

About the middle of last year I started making vague notes on my wall calendar, saying "Work on chapter 10 today" or something along those lines. That worked a little better. That at least got me more focused.

But things have really started to pick up now that I've got my 2012 calendar. It's a desk calendar, but it only shows one week at a time and has plenty of space for notes.

My calendar! (Notes area blurred to protect innocent plot points.)

It's fabulous. I've been able to schedule exactly what scene I'm going to work on each day. And during that day, that's the only scene I touch. So instead of spreading my energy out over as many scenes as I can humanly get to in my allotted writing time period, I make sure I focus my creative energy on one or two scenes so I get it right during my first edit, instead of having to go back over it three or four times to make it my best writing.

I've also started marking the day in green colored pencil when I make my goal for the day, or red when I don't. I'm hoping when I look back it will help me better understand my habits and how to schedule myself to get the most out of my writing time.

Also I love the extra blank space on this calendar. It means I can jot down that background character's name I can never remember (and that I need to know for my current scene) without having to pull out my bazillion pages of notes. I can draw myself diagrams for my fight scenes. Or I can draw sad faces while I'm stuck on a tricky bit of plotting.

In short, it's been a real time saver. I've been planning out my week in advance on Sundays and then adjusting as necessary (like when I get home from a long day at work and I don't have enough brain power to figure out what to eat for dinner, let alone to work on my novel).

If you're struggling with time management and getting the highest quality of work in fewer revisions, I'd definitely suggest trying out a weekly calendar!

Ps.(I got mine at Staples, but the company apparently also has a website here: Orange Circle.)

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