Wayne Stinnett, Author

Wayne Stinnett, Author

Thursday, September 25, 2014

How Important is Scheduling for a Writer?

I'm a scheduler. I schedule everything. It's been such an ingrained part of my daily life for so long, it's hard not to. I know that might seem strange to many, but considering the last 30 years of my life, it's understandable. 

From the mid-eighties, when I first started writing, submitting to publishers and receiving rejections, until 2002, I was a construction manager. Getting my crews and material to a job, when it was time for them to be there to do certain work was very crucial to the success of the builder and thus, my own. I scheduled well in advance and followed the progress of the trades through thousands of homes went from an empty lot to someone's dream.

From '02 until last May, I was an over the road truck driver. When assigned a load, I always asked when it was to be picked up and delivered. With a little experience and having the wonders of technology close at hand, I could plan the route from a specific place on the east coast to another on the west coast, knowing where there'd be traffic delays and where I'd stop each night. I'd respond to dispatch and ask if they could accept the load four hours early, or maybe that I couldn't get there until four hours later. A long trip, like life, can be broken down into smaller segments. In the east, 550 miles in twelve hours is good, but once across the Mississippi, I knew I could stretch that to 650 or more, giving me a very good time of arrival. I was almost always within an hour of what I'd predicted 2800 miles and five days earlier.

When I decided to go full time with my writing career, I sat down and made a schedule. Currently, I have the months in which I'll start writing the next five books scheduled as well as when each will be published and which specific books would be promoted when, over the next fifteen months. Some haven't even been written yet. 

"But, Wayne, I'm just not inspired to write today." 
Are you a writer? Then WRITE!

Break that long schedule down into smaller, more manageable schedules. Can we call these smaller chunks of the big schedule Books? My next book, I'm scheduled to start writing in three weeks and it will be published by early February during a huge promo for the first book in my series. I hope to gain 50,000 new readers with this promo and release. If only half of those go on to read the whole series, that's 125,000 books sold next year, or almost half a million bucks! That means I have four months for me to come up with an idea, create an outline, write that crucial first sentence, finish the book, choose a cover photo, beta reading, editing, proof reading.... Well, you get the picture. Sounds daunting, huh?

"In four months?" 
Are you a writer? Then WRITE!

Four months is 120 days. Subtract 20 days for beta reading, editing and proof reading and during that time, work with the photographer and cover designer and get started with the submission process and formatting. That leaves 100 days to write a 100K word novel. That will require a minimum of 1,000 words written each day. They don't have to be perfect. They just have to be there. A couple hundred extra words will give you a day off now and then to go to the kids' ball games.

"How do you write 1,000 words a day?" 
Are you a writer? Then WRITE!

This post is just over 1,000 words long and took less than an hour to write. A thousand words isn't all that much. To a journalist, it's a column and a half. Yeah, it's just the meanderings of my mind about how I go about planning for success, but that's the point. My books are just the meanderings of an over developed imagination. Aren't yours? Just let the words pour out onto the page and arrange them later. I like to "bookmark" my writing at the end of each day. The next day, I go back two bookmark places, delete that bookmark and start reading, editing as I go. Since I'm going back two days every day, the whole manuscript is proofread by me twice when I get to those two words, "The End". It also gets my head back into the game, picking up the storyline and pacing. Doesn't matter if you're a plotter or a pantser, getting your head back to where it was when you stopped the day before will give your story flow. My bookmarks are simple. When I stop, I skip a line, type in the number of words to that point and give it a style heading, so it appears in the TOC with the chapters. That way, I can just click on it and go to where I stopped two days ago.

In eleven months, starting in late June, 2013 and ending in late May, 2014, I wrote, edited, designed, planned and published four books. My fifth book will be released on the one year anniversary of the first. That's not a coincidence. I had it scheduled almost six months ago, when I published my third book and before I started writing number four. I had no idea at all what number five would be about at the time, but I knew when it would be published. Now my schedule includes releases in February, May, September, and December of 2015. I haven't got a clue what those books will be about either, because the scheduled time to think about that hasn't arrived yet.

Well, okay, I'm cheating my schedule a bit. I know what the February release will be about. The book I'm supposed to start in five weeks already has 10K words written. Developing a good writing habit isn't something you want to break, right? Besides, I want to enjoy some family time through the upcoming holidays and possibly go down island to put my toes in the sand for a few days, enjoy some good rum and get out of the snow.

Semper Fi,
Click here to Visit my Amazon Page to see my books.

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