Last week’s log:
MONDAY: 0 words
WEDNESDAY: 6,476 words
THURSDAY: 6,116 words
FRIDAY: 7,615 words
For a total of 29,040 words for the week.
Last week I gave you the impression that I was under severe pressure to get things done before the end of the year. Actually, before December 11, when relatives arrived from Australia for Christmas.
That is still true.
However, I had overlooked something that has made all the difference in the world.
When I first started writing full-time, I used five weeks as my production phase. It was the critical path.
In time management and project management, the “critical path” is the single line of tasks which are dependent upon one another (in other words, one task cannot be done until the previous task is finished), and provide the shortest route from start to finish. If any one of those tasks goes over time or comes in under time, then the overall length of the project extends or contracts.
For me, when I first started writing full-time, the minimum time I needed for production was five weeks. I wasn’t working on production for the full five weeks, but the five weeks allowed time for my editor to do her work, and for my Street team to read the book before release day.
I wanted to build spare time and padding into the production phase, simply because one never knows what might happen. Life rolls are always unexpected. Also, there are a number of very good reasons to have such an extended production phase, including traditional forms of advertising which are not available if you do not have an Amazon page or blurb or book cover several months before release.
Over the last two years, I have shortened the creation phase (plotting and writing, and concept work) of each book by one week, and tacked that week on to the production phase. It has built my production phase from five weeks, to twenty-six weeks. I just reached that milestone two books ago.
However, that six months of production phase has been overlooked by me until this week. Actually, my partner mentioned it and, once I stopped hyperventilating with excitement, I ran with it.
If I shortened the production phase of every book between now and whenever it took me to catch up, then the four books I needed to get finished before December 11 could move to the new year, after my relatives have left.
I did not relish the idea of a five-week production. However, after working on the production schedule and rearranging things, and jigging dates, I was able to keep a fifteen week production phase for the earlier books, then gradually raise the production phase back up to twenty-six weeks. It will take all of next year to do that. Fifteen weeks is 105 days, or 15 days before the maximum 90 day pre-order period on Amazon, which I like to take advantage of.
The new production schedule dictated that all I needed to do this year was finish the current book.
So that is what I did.
Last week I finished the final book for the year (which is actually April’s release next year). It means that I will absolutely not break through 1 million words this year. My total for the year ends up being 873,578 words, of pure book manuscript words. Other writers include their blog posts and articles, etc., which I will add into my total word count next year — and yes, my goal next year will be to crack 1 million words.
Between now and December 11 and the arrival of my family, I will be working to get blog posts done, all the production for the finished books (as much as I can), and some major site and blogs projects.
That means that while my family is here, all I need to worry about are email posts which are time-dependent, and production which can’t be completed until that point in time. An hour or so a day, and I’ll be done.
The relief I felt once I had figured this out was so intense, that I realized I had drawn very close to burnout. I had not realized how much pressure I was putting on myself until I removed it. I felt quite dizzy, in fact.
I discussed how burnout can creep up on you in this week’s newsletter, along with ways to monitor your stress level and figure out if you need to de-stress.
I will continue this work log up until December 11, then take a break until mid-January. I still have a great deal of work to do but now that the pressure is off, I have a feeling I’ll get more than enough of it done.
I’m looking forward to having a glorious end of the year. It is a very nice feeling indeed. It is one that you should try to build into your own career where you can.