Last week’s log may have left you with the impression of a mechanical workhorse that didn’t miss a beat, while you struggle and miss days and your logs (if you even keep them) are messy things that are a real reflection of life.
So let me show you this week’s log.
Right click and open in a new tab to get it to full screen size, so you can read it, if it’s too small on the screen.
As you can see, on Tuesday I did nothing at all. No writing, no blog posts.
In fact the whole day was given over to an emergency port of my three newsletters, all the attending auto responders and nearly 10,000 subscribers + their tags, to a new email service provider. It took nearly twelve hours, and I consider that a smooth transition.
In this case, I didn’t have the choice to move slowly to the new service provider, taking an hour or two a day to complete the migration. I had to do it all at once, as swiftly as possible.
Life will pummel you off your routine. Frequently.
As soon as I knew how badly off-kilter the day would be (that is, as soon as I knew that I would get nothing written that day), I had a quick look at the chart, and figured out two options:
- I could write an extra two hours on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, (taking time in the afternoon away from admin stuff). Or
- I could write an extra hour on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, to make up the loss of the day on Tuesday.
I decided to go with 2, as I had also lost four hours of admin time that day, too, and taking an extra two hours for the rest of the week would cause issues, as I was releasing a book on Thursday.
On Wednesday, I got my 60 minutes/1,500 extra words written.
On Thursday, I repeated the extra 60 minutes/1,500 extra words. On top of that, I wrote in the evening (Mark had a hockey game to watch). That gave me extra wriggle room.
On Friday, you can see I got my normal 6,000+ words written…and nothing more.
Blank Saturday and Sunday
That is because on Friday, I finished the book. I already knew the end was in sight, but I am always cautious toward the end of the book to not rush scenes, take shortcuts and shorten the end too abruptly and cheat the reader of their cathartic finish.
Therefore, I presumed that even though the book was only meant to be 60K long, and even though I was already at 68K, that there could be another 20k or 30k still in the story. That is why I figured out a writing schedule for the rest of the week that would catch me up.
As you can see, I was very nearly caught up by about 10:30am on Friday, when I reached the end of the story.
Saturday and Sunday then became clean up days. Therefore, zero word count shows for those days.
I’ll talk more about plotting/writing/cleanup next week, because next week will be mainly dealing with those writing functions.
Blog Posts and etc.
I forgot to add my blog posts in, last week. This is a new practice for me–until now I haven’t kept track of my word count for posts and newsletters.
However, some of the posts on this site in particular will be hefty buggers, and other authors who track their word counts publicly also include their blog posts, so I decided to start doing that, too.
Blogging is simply a form of non-fiction writing, using all the techniques of good writing, so it counts, too.
What doesn’t show.
What you can’t see from this simple chart, because it is part of my production schedule, not my working word count, is that I should have finished this current book on the 13th, then rolled over to the next book on Thursday.
Even if Tuesday’s schmozzle hadn’t happened, I still would have been over the deadline, because the book came in longer than I had planned.
That’s okay, though.
After years of building production schedules and tracking my word count, I know there is room for a couple of days here and there, for cleaning up manuscripts, for books that run over length and more.
Here is an extract from my Production Schedule, showing the next few books:
|Mask of Nobility||60K||Oct 15||Oct 19||Oct 20||Nov 1||Nov 2||Jan 11|
|Hostage Crisis||70K||Nov 8||Nov 22||Nov 23||Feb 8|
|Law of Attraction||60K||Nov 26||Nov 30||Dec 1||Dec 13||Dec 14||Mar 8|
|Freedom Fighters||70K||Dec 20||Jan 3||Jan 4||Apr 5|
|Ancient Romance||80K||Jan 2||Jan 7||Jan||Jan 24||Jan 25||May 3|
Mask of nobility
As you can see for the dates of this book, it is already written, edited and on pre-order. It is locked in for the January 11 release date.
There is not plotting period for this book, because it is book 3 of a re-edit/repackage/relaunch series. It, too, is very nearly ready for launch in February.
Law of Attraction
This is the book I finished on Friday, only two days after deadline. On Saturday and Sunday, and into Monday of the next week, I spent my “writing time” cleaning up the manuscript, editing, and proofing, in order to send it off to the editor as soon as possible.
This book will now move into full “production” phase — editing, formatting, pre-launch promos, pre-orders, etc, following the production checklist I have kept and tweaked over the years.
This is the next in the “relaunch” series. Because of the odd no-plotting-short-writing schedule for that book, I have the few days up my sleeve I need for (a) writing over length, (b) schmozzle days and (c) Christmas… (see below)
ancient romance 1
This is shorthand for “the first book in a series of ancient history-set romances”. The series doesn’t have a name, and I have the vaguest idea about setting (Late Roman Britain, or into the Dark Ages…and Arthurian legends).
I’m keeping a careful eye on dates for these last two books. I’m ahead of the schedule for Freedom Fighters, which means I should get ahead of the schedule for the start of this Ancient romance series.
However, I don’t think I have enough plotting time in the schedule for all the concept and world building needed for a brand new series, so I want to gain as much ground as possible.
Which brings me to…
Christmas is Coming.
I am very aware that the holiday break is only a week away.
I’m hoping that if I really settle in and write a few evenings as well, I can get Freedom Fighters done before Christmas, and start concept work for the new series between Christmas and New Year.
However, I am not expecting to get a lot of work done between Christmas and New Year, as my husband will be home, so will the (now adult) kids. It is a family time that obsessed writers like me need to let go and enjoy.
This is part of the “live well” side of the equation.
If I do get any time to work, it will be bonus time.
I have decided to go with the flow. In the new year, I will reassess (probably right here) and figure out how to catch up, if I need to.
Don’t Sweat It.
From the length of this post, you may get the impression I sweat over my production schedule and spend hours tweaking and refining.
The reality is far from that.
I only look at the Production Schedule when I’m coming up to the end of writing a book, and need to see what comes next, or when life gets in the way and I have to reassess (like this week).
I have been studying the Production Schedule far more frequently since I started this blog — weekly, as opposed to every couple of weeks or more.
My writing count chart is the one I check daily and work to improve.
Productivity is a product (pun not intended) of effective habits. Getting your word count in every day is a key habit. Focus on getting the daily words done and the rest will take almost take care of itself.
In the meantime, if you’d like a copy of the blank, working Excel spreadsheet, click here.
Until then…back to work for all of us.