Welcome to another week of the Fiction Reboot! On deck:
Monday: Writing Schedules (below)
Tuesday: Featured Literary Agents
Wednesday: Here Comes Troubelle
Thursday: Interview with Robin Blake, author of Dark Anatomy
Friday: The Fiction Feature
The Writing Schedule: Learning by Experience
Every once in a while, we make the mistake of thinking about all the things that must be done in the next six months. Friends, this is almost never a good idea.
To show you what I mean, I will use myself as an example, with some pointers on how to avoid—well—insanity.
If I start listing items per category, this is what I get:
- Finish edits on The Chronicles of Jacob Maresbeth, which has just returned from copy-edit.
- Finish revision of The Witchwood at Nob’s End (based on an agent’s critique, I am trying to shorted it by 80-100 pages)
- Finish sequel to Witchwood (needs final seven chapters complete)
- Complete first draft of Here Comes Troubelle (which I have been writing at the intolerably slow pace of a chapter a week).
- Renew work on Failed Intellectuals Inc., (which has been somewhat left before of late)
- Finish Chapter Four of the monograph and write Chapter Three (I went out of order)
- Complete revisions to Dracula/Syphilis paper
- Complete revisions to Jane Eyre paper
- Complete edits for JLAS special issue
- Vet proposal submissions for edited collection
But that leaves out my other work at Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry…and course prep for this coming semester, and a few necessaries such as eating, sleeping, breathing.
And sadly, the result of this list-making is not more productivity. Actually, I think I curled into a fetal position and sang sad songs for a few hours.
So, what is a busy writer to do?
Implementing SMART ADVICE
I have been very lucky to host excellent author interviews on the Fiction Reboot, and we can learn a great deal from them. Two things that stand out to me:
- If you want to take your writing seriously, you really have to think of it as a job you do every day.
- If you want to enjoy your writing, you have to make it a job that you are excited about doing
In other words, if you kill yourself trying to juggle too much at once, you will practice avoidance. You will stay away on purpose. If you set unreasonable goals, you will fail to meet them and be down on yourself. Writing is a career we choose. Don’t make yourself hate it.
I have tried to take this advice myself. It is no good trying to imagine all the work that must be done in the future. You can only think about today—maybe tomorrow, too.
Thus, I have tried working in smaller chunks…arranging my day.
- For research, I work best in the morning. Blog entries and CMP must be done before 10am. Research must conclude before 3pm.
- For fiction editing, I work best in the late afternoon and evening. I can begin after dinner and work until I get tired.
- For fiction creation, I need large chunks of time, so I use weekends or times during the day when I have 3 hours or so. Sometimes I take up the morning this way, and sometimes the evening. Fiction writing is flexible for me and can move into vacant slots.
- I need free time. Usually between 3-6. I simply have brain siesta then, so I may as well take a walk, get exercise, visit friends, spring for ice cream. Fun stuff.
Secondly, I do set goals. Daily, weekly and monthly goals.
- I intend to write in the blog daily.
- I intend to write one chapter in my two newer series a week. Lately, I have been doing this consistently with Here Comes Troubelle.
- I intend to have two monograph chapters before the end of August.
- I intend to have Maresbeth edits complete by September.
Now, to be honest, a number of the things mentioned above will happen before their deadlines. But that’s the idea. I need to see that I am ahead, not behind. I might be running to stand still on top of a raging water mill, but that is much better than being strapped beneath it.
Listening to SMART AUTHORS:
Today, remind yourself why you write. Here is a recap of what our authors have said:
“I can remember making books as early as five years old. My dad would take them to work and “publish” them on his office copier, then I’d carry them around the neighborhood, trying to sell them for a dime. Even back then so much of the marketing fell on the author!”
“Even before I could write I used to ‘draw’ stories, so I guess I was born with an innate desire to tell tales and spin yarns. My first rejection from a publisher came when I was just eight. I sent a manuscript with illustrations to Collins. It was called The Adventures of Aunty Mary. Writing is simply my way of expression, my therapy if you like. I have a need to share stories with others.”
“Fiction shouldn’t be embarrassing or lesser-than. Sure, it’s meant to entertain, but it’s also a tool for navigating and understanding society. If a piece of fiction is good, it can inspire, uplift, teach, or even just provide a means of escape for a few hours. There’s real value to that, I think.
Stories were exercise-bicycles for my imagination. Reading them enabled me to travel, in time as well as space, without my leaving the broken-springed old sofa on which I lay, and to be anyone or anything the book wanted me to be. I think it is the most important discovery of my life.