Sometimes It’s All About Scheduling

Between deadlines, releases, running AOAD, my gig as a VPA, and momming, I’ve had several author friends ask how I do it. How do I keep on top of everything?

First of all…I don’t. I am not superwoman or a magician. Things fall through the cracks on a regular basis. Plans don’t work out the way I set them. I get tired and cranky and have even been known to skip a day of doing just to give myself a break. And yes, I have a tendency to say YES to too many things. I get it done, but sometimes with a cost.

Part of what helps is that I’m blessed with an odd combination of stamina and ADD. Yeah. I said it. The ADD bit means that, to help me focus, I need tons to keep me busy. Sounds strange, but it’s true. I don’t sit and do one thing well, so it helps to have lots of things to do. The stamina helps because I can go non-stop from the second I get up until the second I go to bed, and not really stress about it. Helps that almost all of what I do during that time is stuff I love. If I was in a job I hated, that would be a different story. which means I need.

But here’s my real secret…I schedule. Everything.

Like everyone else, I schedule my life, my appointments, my kids’ activities, and so forth. But I also schedule reminders for monthly/quarterly/yearly tasks. I schedule my social media calendar and posts. And…I schedule my writing.

MAKING THE SCHEDULE

I have figured out how many words a day I can get in without feeling like I’m overloaded (for me this is 2-2.5k/day), and still get in my VPAing, my AOADing, my kids (of course!), and everything else. I take a deadline and everything I need to get done to hit it and back it up from there–at a weekly level. I include:

  • Writing the first draft
  • Writing/editing subsequent drafts
  • Beta readers to read
  • Me to apply beta readers’ comments
  • Deadline

Post-deadline I include a guess at:

  • 2 rounds of editing (1-2 weeks each)
  • Copy-editing – a few days
  • Galley reads – a few days

THE RULES

In my schedule, if I have books that aren’t contracted yet, but I have high hopes for, I’ll still include those books as placeholders. I also apply some extra rules. For example…

  • I don’t schedule anything else (other than beta readers reading, which doesn’t require me to do anything) during the 1st two weeks and last week of a 1st draft.
  • I block off holidays (Christmas, Spring Break, etc.)
  • Anywhere that doesn’t have those blocked off I put a Secondary First Draft as optional.
    • After I hit 2k words for the day for my main WIP, I give myself the option of getting in 500 words on a WIP scheduled later down the road.
    • This allows me to get ahead, but with no pressure.
  • I TRY (but usually doesn’t happen) to have the 2 weeks after finishing a first draft blocked off so I don’t start any new first drafts – giving my brain a break and letting me focus on 2nd/3rd drafts of that completed work.

ADJUSTING

My schedules are never set in stone (except contracted deadlines of course). I use them to both keep me on task (in order to hit those deadlines), but also to help determine where/when I can do more. That way, if new contracts come in, I can be honest and fairly accurate with what/when I can produce.

I will also adjust my schedule any time something major changes–I get way behind, any given step takes longer (or shorter) than anticipated, etc. Adjust the schedule. I live and breathe off this thing daily.

 

So that’s me. Like I said, I’m not perfect and I do miss things, mess things up, and collapse sometimes. But I will say that since implementing this calendar, I hit my deadlines with a lot less angst (and a lot less of a pile up of work at the end). Authors, what about you? How do you handle your deadlines and writing schedule?

One thought on “Sometimes It’s All About Scheduling

Add yours

  1. I am not an author, but I found today’s blog inspirational. I admire people who can make this kind of schedule and mostly stick to it. Awesome. Me? I am a I-have-to-finish-each-task-before-I-can-move-on type of person. I have tried the list making and scheduling, but not my style. I do think those that can do it are amazing though. Thank you. That means more good books for me to read.

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