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Writing Process - the revised schedule

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Mar. 12th, 2013 | 02:09 pm

everywordiwrite inquires in a comment:

How much time are you devoting a day to writing? Is that still including research? Right now, is writing your main career focus? How varied are the types of things you're writing about? Do you include editing time with writing time, or separately, or are you saving it for later?

Curiosity sparked by personal need to return to writing in near future myself. :-)


First, I know some of you will join me in glee that she's getting back to the page soon! everywordiwrite's a fabulous writer who walks the very difficult tightrope of mining one's personal experiences with honesty and emotional rawness while still translating them into relate-able and moving pieces that transcend personal journaling. (And shout-out to the other wonderful writers I know who have totally stepped up their game this year in this area! Damn, I look forward to the friends list these days).

I'm so glad you asked, because I've been meaning to revise my writing schedule and this makes me write it down. (And now I get to check off "SHORT BLOG - The Week Ahead/Question/Challenge/Writing Practice").

YES, writing is my main career focus right now. I'm booking circus work (and I'll work in April and throughout the summer) but I'm not performing or teaching right now. I'll also take May to write, and I'm actively making writing space in my summer performance schedule.

I started out trying to work on two projects at once (a high school play and a memoir) and discovered I didn't have that much brain power in a day. I assessed the projects and thought about what I most wanted to do:

        High School Play=money, esteem, making a difference in children's lives, contributing to a community I care about
   
        Memoir=bigger market for book, step up to a different venue as a writer, money

And what it came down to was wanting to get a project done and out the door. The memoir (in draft 7, working on draft 8) is closer to done, and when I counted pages I realized I could finish this draft in about 50 days.

So I am now focusing on the memoir, and doing about two hours a day - one hour of hand-written edits on the previous draft (the past two days, mapping scenes on a chart and noticing plot holes) and one hour of re-typing and re-writing. I retype the entire scene, not just copy-paste, because it helps me find the flow to write in new material.

I'm trying to also submit work, but I'm not as successful at getting that done.

I'm pretty strict with time limits on things, as that helps me check something off the list and not spend the whole day wandering the internet. I have a time-keeper program where I track what I'm doing by category.

CAREER MAINTENANCE MONDAY (3h15m)
 - retype Friday’s edits (1 hour)
 - edit 5 pages (45min)
 - Short blog to LJ  (45min) and I don't get to it every time
 - Writing Career Forward Motion – entering contests, looking for residencies and conferences, reading about literary magazines and their submissions policies. I have a specific list of projects to tackle, but it’s time-based and I stop when I hit the limit, and having to change categories on the time-keeper stops me from randomly checking Facebook (30min)
 - Check The Moth website – can I make it to enter an upcoming StorySLAM? (5min)
 - Check NYTimes Expat Rendezvous – any calls for submissions? (10min)

READING TUESDAY (4 hours)
 - retype yesterday’s edits (1 hour)
 - edit 5 pages (45min)
 - Short blog to LJ (45min)
 - Writing Career Forward Motion (30min)
 - What’s going on in the world of Essays? Read Boston Globe Connections, NYT Townies and Drafts, Persephone, Brevity, The Review Review and Essay Daily (1 hour) and I haven't been getting to this

WRITING WEDNESDAY (4h15m)
 - retype yesterday’s edits (1 hour)
 - edit 5 pages (45min)
 - Writing Career Forward Motion (30min)

CATCH-UP THURSDAY (2h45m)
 - retype yesterday’s edits (1 hour)
 - edit 5 pages (45min)
 - Writing Career Forward Motion (30min)
 - respond to a radio show freelancers’ call or pitch to their website if they haven’t put a call out (Snap Judgment, Moth or DNTO) (30min) and I haven't been getting to it

SUBMISSION FRIDAY (4h)
 - retype yesterday’s edits (1 hour)
 - edit 5 pages (45min)
 - Writing Career Forward Motion (30 min)
 - submit something already written to at least three places (45min)
 - Blog the Writing Round-Up to LJ and my website (1 hour)

WEEKEND LISTENING (2h45m over both days)
 - Listen to a show from Snap Judgment, Definitely Not The Opera, Radiolab, The Moth, This American Life or Studio 360, combined with exercise or driving if possible (2 hours). I end up doing this also while brushing teeth, making breakfast, etc.
 - Blog the Sunday Goal-Setting check-in to LJ (45min)
I also end up catching up on pages on the weekend if I'm behind.

MONTHLY - so far these haven't happened.
 - Two essay submissions (on Submission Friday) to places chosen on Reading Tuesday
 - Pitch a story to The Moth website or Snap Judgment website on Catch-Up Thursday
 - Every other month, pitch to This American Life


My big takeaways right now:

I currently have the luxury of not working. It's still hard to sit down at the table and write, and I'm building a support network so that if my in-person writer buddy is out of town, or my online/text buddy is sick or not available, I've got other places to turn for accountability. I really, really need to be able to check in with someone else right now about writing. I wish I could do it alone. I can't. And the first step is admitting you have a problem :)

I AM A LAZY-ASS MOTHERFUCKER. I know this. Turns out I actually work harder to get things done when there's more structure to my day, like squeezing in writing before a deadline. So I'm working on developing routines--writing at the same time, at the same table, in the same coffee shop every day. Saying to myself like a four-year-old-twin, "That's nice that you want to play Word Bubbles, but you have to eat your broccoli write five pages before you go home." I'm trying to build a daily practice so that when life gets another gig, I still get my writing done. And I like star charts, so I've got a wonderful Excel sheet WordTracker by Svenja Liv. They are originally designed for NaNoWriMo, but they work year-round, they're pretty (and have graphs!) and come in cool styles. Really a great place to set word goals and feel good about meeting them or pressured to catch up.

Perhaps the most important thing is realizing that I've been somewhat scattershot in the past two months. I WANT TO WRITE ALL THE THINGS! But what I need to do is spend a few weeks only reading contemporary memoir and thinking about that. And then a few weeks really reading literary magazines and submitting to them. When I'm reading mostly online blogs, or mostly Slate/Salon/HuffPo type things, my work starts to reflect what I'm reading. So I need to immerse myself in the voices of where I want to be submitting work.

________________________________________________________________
What's your writing schedule? What are you working on?

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Comments {8}

writerdoc

(no subject)

from: writerdoc
date: Mar. 12th, 2013 11:29 pm (UTC)
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Your schedule sounds amazing and I am envious. :P

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Mar. 13th, 2013 01:37 am (UTC)
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I am very, very lucky to be able to take time off right now, and I feel guilty every time I waste it :)

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writerdoc

(no subject)

from: writerdoc
date: Mar. 14th, 2013 12:27 am (UTC)
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Enjoy it for all it's worth. ;)

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ecosopher

(no subject)

from: ecosopher
date: Mar. 13th, 2013 06:40 am (UTC)
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Deadlines work quite well for me, too. I also tend to do good work in 'sprints' -- setting the timer for ten minutes or so and focussing on one thing (chapter/essay/character/scene). I used this technique in NaNo and it applies well to normal work too. It's particularly good during the day when I've children to ignore take care of. They can easily play without interrupting me for ten minutes and when the timer goes off then they know I'm once again available to bother with their incessant noise and questions parent them.

These days, though, I'm actually finding that I can fit in about an hour most evenings before bed. Obviously the trouble is, I get really tired by then, but between 8 and 10, it's rare that they'll wake and need me, so it's a good chance to get some words down. I sit at the kitchen table so I can be near M who's in the adjoining loungeroom and usually I handwrite.

I'm interested in your memoir. Is it your own or someone else's?

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blahblahblah, whatever

(no subject)

from: kathrynrose
date: Mar. 13th, 2013 02:23 pm (UTC)
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I have this really cool writing buddy, and she's been encouraging me to write every day. :)

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Jemima Pauler

(no subject)

from: jem0000000
date: Mar. 14th, 2013 07:47 am (UTC)
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I usually write after work, although sometimes I get stuck and write before work, which is never a good idea. I try to write on my days off as well, but those typically end up being catch-up-on-everything days instead. Current goal is to write five days out of seven; so far, I'm still doing four out of seven, which has been my schedule for like a year and a half now. (Hello, lasting habits from LJI.) I was doing seven days a week for a while before that, and I want to get back into that schedule.

Right now, I have two ideas for a Home Game entry for LJI, and another longer idea about a girl who goes to visit her grandfather for the summer. His house changes time periods. The setting is perfect for the standard coming-of-age tale, but I'm probably going to twist things around a little -- although as of the moment there is no plot yet, so I don't really know. But it's always good to suspect a perfect setting of secretly having a completely different tale to tell.

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drwex

As I find myself with extra free time

from: drwex
date: Mar. 15th, 2013 05:34 pm (UTC)
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If you need randomly timed writer support feel free to ping me.

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Andrea Blythe

(no subject)

from: blythe025
date: Mar. 15th, 2013 08:12 pm (UTC)
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Fantastic schedule! Structure is a great thing and totally has the capacity to up productivity. I find when I don't follow a structure things don't get done (or get done very slowly).

Also: "I retype the entire scene, not just copy-paste, because it helps me find the flow to write in new material."

I do this, too, especially with more severe rewrites. The flow just works better that way, and I find new and better ways to say what I meant to say the first time around.

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