Schemes & Schedules (Plus a Few Groovy Little Tricks)

11 Aug

And, at last…a break!  

I’ve been pushing myself pretty hard today so far, since I haven’t worked on the novel for over a week.  Yesterday completely morphed into one of those “I miss blogging!” – “I miss running!” – “I miss cooking!” sort of days, and, well, I did everything but work on my book.  

Luckily, getting back into the groove has not been too hard.  I left off in a good spot, mid-sentence, like we’ve been talking about on one of Jennifer’s posts.  That made things a little easier, especially since it was a somewhat emotionally charged scene.  

I discovered another little trick today that helped me get back into the story.  It hit me – why not read it out loud, record it, and listen to it?  I did just that with my current chapter; it was neat to hear the book instead of looking at it.  After listening to it, I felt I could jump right back in to the moods and thoughts of my various characters.  Plus, it helped me to notice what sounded weird and what sounded pretty good, without seeing my painstakingly familiar words on the screen.

Kind of a change of subject here, but it still has to do with being productive after my vacation:

Before we left for Puerto Rico, I decided to deal with one of the questions I keep getting asked from every direction – “When do you think you’ll be done?”  (For my more elaborate ramblings on such questions, see This Post.)  

My husband asked me this (with trepidation) because his co-workers keep asking him.  I thought about it, and rather than getting all annoyed, I figured I should perhaps come up with an actual answer.  I mean, I’d rather have everyone be fine with, “How can I possibly know?  I’ll be done when I’m done, and I just plan to keep working hard until then.”  But, not everyone is.  Besides, I was a little curious, myself – when should I expect to be done?

Perhaps it is realistic to say, “I’ll be done when I’m done,” but perhaps it’s just a lazy excuse to avoid a schedule.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that there may come a day when I’m expected to write – and edit – on a much tighter schedule than now.  What good will it be to me in those days, if I can only write on my time, and not push myself to get things done?

So, I created a schedule.  I don’t know if it’s realistic; I do know it’s ambitious.  I don’t want to sacrifice quality, so we’ll see how well I actually stick to my plan.  

I pretty much took my current rate of churning out chapters (more oozing than churning, but whatever) and doubled my weekly expectations of myself.  I set a schedule for when I hope to finish this draft, then allotted time for every other step I could think of between now and sending it out to agents.  I figure, even if I totally take twice as long as I’ve given myself, at least I’ll know what to expect in future projects, right?  

This method is working well, so far.  I set my little timer for an hour at a time, focus really hard, then take a break at the end of the hour.  I’m seeing much more fruit on the page than with my previous “work for a few hours at a time” method, in which I had the tendency to succumb to various distractions (you know, blog-reading, latte-making/drinking, petting Remy the Cat).  This way, I am accountable to focus for a fixed amount of time, then enjoy frequent rewards when I’m done.

Writing this blog was one of those rewards.  Now – off to do one more session today, then to the gym I’ll go!  

I haven’t asked a question in a while, so here’s one:  Do you have a big-picture schedule on your current project, or do you work better taking it one section at a time?  Any thoughts or ideas on how best to schedule projects like these?  I’d love to read what works well for you!


6 Responses to “Schemes & Schedules (Plus a Few Groovy Little Tricks)”

  1. jenniferneri Tuesday / 11 August 09 at 7:33 pm #

    I recently came up with a schedule of sorts for myself. I did so, telling myself firmly that the schedule could be changed. It was not set in stone, and would not a failure to have to alter it. Well, all went great (it was based on weekly word count) until life got in the way, and now I have downsized my ambitions for the next few weeks. When the kids go back to school I plan on having a schedule for each day of the week to work on various things (shorts,querying, novel, and some articles). If I do not, it will all get lost in time, and progress with be slow. I found it amazing, how just by deciding to write 1500 words a day, I did.

    By the way, one of the workshop leaders I had last year used that very same trick of reading and recording. She said it works like a charm!

    • owlandsparrow Monday / 17 August 09 at 9:15 am #

      It IS amazing to set goals like that and then reach them. At first, on this little schedule I made, I set extremely realistic goals. Then, I remembered this very thing – like you said, you can write 1500 words just by deciding to – and doubled my goal. I figure, at the very least, I’ll be doing the minimum I expect of myself; at the most – way more! Since it’s a lofty goal, I don’t feel tooo bad if I don’t meet it, but I do try.

      That’s really cool that someone else recommended that trick! I’ve never been to a workshop before. Did you learn a lot at the one you went to? I love learning little tricks like these, so maybe I should look into finding a workshop…

  2. joyofdawn Tuesday / 11 August 09 at 9:10 pm #

    I don’t have any schedules right now for anything. It is driving me crazy! I plan to start a schedule after the new school year starts here at home. Then hopefully life will settle down a little and I can focus on what really should get done in a day. So many things that I’d like to do may just have to wait a little while.
    Blogging, sometimes I wonder how I ever managed without it! It has been such a great experience!
    I like the recording idea! It sounds like it would really be helpful. Maybe I’ll try that sometime!

    • owlandsparrow Monday / 17 August 09 at 9:19 am #

      Hey there! Thanks for commenting! When do you start up with school again? I know the feeling you have – I find it easier to start everything all at once. It feels like a definite beginning point, kind of like New Year’s Resolutions 🙂 Do you think your novel-writing will be part of your school experience this year? I think you mentioned you were home-schooled, and I wonder what kind of freedom you have in your lessons?

      I, too, wonder how I managed without blogging. I love the creative outlet and the chance to connect with other people!

      • joyofdawn Monday / 17 August 09 at 4:07 pm #

        Over the past two years of school, writing was the english course. It was a lot of fun for me and my sister. I could talk home school stuff all day but really it is quite flexible. (If you need to know anything about home shooling just ask. If I don’t know something I can probably find out.) High school has some requirments to cover. I graduated this year, so that is the main problem with my schedule. I’m not sure where to start without school subjects. 🙂 However my sister and brother will be starting school soon and the house should calm down. (I hope) 🙂 This summer has been very busy!
        I plan to continue writing and I think it will be easier for me to do in the winter time when I’m stuck inside. (I hope)


  1. Return from Unproductivity Land « Owl and Sparrow - Thursday / 20 August 09

    […] night, when my friend Allison asked me The Question*, I gave an answer I hadn’t given before. […]

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