I didn’t report in last week. I didn’t think anyone would notice a missing blog post amongst the party favours and Christmas wrapping.
My last Log was December 19th and I reported that I had finished the book and was rolling into the next one.
Here’s what the last two weeks looked like:
Dec 19-23: Editing and clean up of previously published romantic suspense, ready for publication.
Dec 24-27: Family time. No blog posts, no writing, no attempt to think of work in any capacity.
Dec 28-31 (which just happened to fall neatly on the Sunday this year): Major site work on my romance site.
The “next” book on the schedule is a re-release, and didn’t take as much time to clean as I scheduled. My production schedule said I needed to finish it by January 2. I knew it wouldn’t take that long in reality, which built in “down time” for me.
This is the one time of the year when I do this–it takes planning and working ahead of my production schedule to “bank” writing hours.
This year, the re-release gave me that banked time, which I used fully and completely. I skipped blog posts here, and on my other sites, too.
The only work-related business I gave attention to was responding to readers when they reached out — especially those readers with issues.
Time off is something you should try to work into your own schedule. The major holiday seasons are good excuses for mental breaks.
Try to work ahead of your schedule so that you aren’t threatening any of your deadlines (given or self-imposed). It gives you guilt-free downtime that is essential to mental and physical health, long term.
Working ahead of your production schedule is a way of giving yourself holiday and sick pay — the only kind that self-employed writers can afford.
I have been putting off the site work for a long time. My romance site is seventeen years old, and some of the pages are musty. Maintenance is an on-going time sink, too.
With four days in hand (as the current book wasn’t due to be finished until January 2), I could afford to put aside everything non-essential, including writing time. Yes, in this case, writing time is non-essential, especially as rebuilding the site was a priority.
I needed a good, solid chunk of time to build shopping cart software into the romance site, and add buy buttons to 90+ book pages, plus upload inventory and sort out tax reporting, payment services and more.
Most of the work got done in the four days. The last of it — mostly, adding buy buttons to the very oldest of my titles — will be completed in admin time over the next week or so.
That cleared the decks for me to get back to “normal” routine yesterday, January 1. I did not treat January 1 as a public holiday as most of the world does. In the morning, I tackled the new project, and in the afternoon, as usual, I turned to administration — in this case, end of month + end of year bookkeeping.
I’ll talk more about yesterday in next week’s log report, including details about the new project.
I wanted to touch on this briefly. I’ll be talking about yearly schedules and expectations and goal planning a lot.
My 2017 is a perfect example of why this sort of planning is essential.
I wrote a blog post yesterday for my romance site, that included the following:
I went on to wryly admit in very general terms that I wasn’t happy with the output.
And I am not.
Apart from an internal creative pressure to get all the stories in my head onto paper (the public reason I gave my romance readers), there is also a general dissatisfaction.
I should have a higher word count. I was aiming for better than 1M and fell far short.
There were several life rolls in 2017 that disrupted my schedule, including my husband being in a bad traffic accident that kept me from the keyboard for several weeks in total.
Life rolls happen. That is why working ahead of your schedule will save your professional hide.
However, allowing for — let’s say three weeks — allowing for three weeks out, doesn’t cover all the pathetic excuses I used to skip days here and there. In my heart and mind, I know I could have written more.
If you’re looking at the “12 novels” line and thinking I’m insane for being unhappy, then stick around for a while and you’ll begin to understand my thinking.
High word counts are a product of placing one’s ass in the chair and starting to write. Just starting, most times, will be enough to keep writing, especially if you love to write (or want to love to write — a learnable skill, too!).
Yet even I, with my “lousy” twelve novels+ for the year, fall prey to the insidious energy-sucking thoughts and habits that derail writers the world over.
Being productive and prolific is not a set-once-and-sail-forever proposition. There are on-going course changes and adjustments to the sheets, as the weather changes and sometimes you have to batten down for a storm (life rolls). There’s maintenance to the boat (you and your equipment and tools), and constantly thinking about your course and your destination.
I won’t stretch the analogy any further. You get the idea. Just as there’s always something to do on a boat, so too with your productivity.
This year, I want to do better than 1M words, which means minimizing the goof-off days and not giving into Resistance as frequently as I did last year (which wasn’t often–but often enough to annoy me now I’m looking at the bottom line).
Writing and reporting in public on this blog will help enormously with that and abso-flogging-lutely that was one of the reasons for doing this mad experiment.
Even if you don’t have formal writing goals for 2018, do you have a general word-count in mind you’d like to reach?
Perhaps just tracking your word count should be a goal for this year?
Or, if you’re already keeping track, can you bump up your expectations by 10 or 15 percent?
Back to work, all of us.