Plan Your Writing Schedule (video)

Last week, I shared a video from Sarra Canon of Heart Breathings. This week, I’m doing it again. She has good information for writers, no matter how long you’ve been at it.

In this video, she talks about setting up your writing schedule for 2019 and being realistic about your goals.

Planning for 2019

Creative Commons via catchingcourage.com

It seems strange to think that there are only two weeks left in this year. I actually had to check the calendar after I typed that. Yes. Two weeks.

The other day, I was thinking that it was early to be planning for next year. When I look at the calendar and realize that, though? It’s not too early at all. In fact, I kind of feel some pressure being applied.

But… I’m good.

I don’t have everything in place that I want for 2019, but who does? Not only am I not that organized, I don’t want to be that rigid.

My planner setup for the year is in a purple Carpe Diem A5 6-ring binder. I’m doing a hybrid method using a traditional calendar (week on two pages layout) and Bullet Journal methods. I’ve been giving it a trial run for the past couple months and it’s working out great.

I already have my goals lined up. I will be tracking them per quarter so I’ll better know where I stand with what I’m wanting to do. I won’t share them here just yet. I will let you know some of them as they come along because it involves new books, courses, and reviving my podcast.

It’s more than keeping on keeping on. It’s growing and improving and loving what I do so that I will have more things to share with you, too.

Have you started planning for 2019 yet? What kinds of content do you want to see here (or hear on the podcast) that would help you reach your goals?

My Writing Process

ecrireA couple days ago, I told you a bit about my editing process, so now I guess I should tell you about my writing process.

This is a more difficult post to write because the process is more involved. I’m going to try to summarize it, though.

I tend to go through five steps, though I don’t think of them like this at the time.

  1. Idea Generation
  2. Stewing
  3. Prepping
  4. Writing
  5. Editing

What happens in each step of the process?

Idea Generation
I keep a notebook with lists of ideas or summaries of something I want to do. Some of these “notebooks” are files in my computer, though I am a huge fan of keeping a notebook nearby as often as possible.

Stewing
When I find an idea that I want to work on, I walk around with it my head for a while. How long varies. For one story, I walked around with the main character telling me all about herself for two weeks before she finally told me her name. That story was started, but it hasn’t ever been finished. It will be in the not-too-distant future.

Prepping
Otherwise known as planning and research. This is where I figure out if it’s nonfiction or fiction, poetry or prose, long or short. And I do some preliminary research if it’s something I don’t know much about. I limit my research time, though, because I could easily spend too much time doing that and very little writing.

Writing
This step is pretty self-explanatory. I will do extra research from time to time if it’s needed. This step also generally takes the longest.

Editing
We already talked about this on Tuesday, but it’s worth including here, too. I view editing as part of the creative process as well. In my writing phase, I get the bones of the story/article/post down. Then in editing, I often add new content, so it’s a mashup of editing and writing. In general, it’s shaping.

Sometimes I will listen to music as I do this. Again, it’s something with little or no lyrics and often the same type of music I listen to while editing.

What does your process look like?

My Editing Process

redpenWhen you think about editing, I’m sure you imagine the proverbial red pen, bleeding all over the page. Right?

Although the red pen still, undoubtedly, has its place, things have changed quite a bit. I would say 99% of my editing is done on the computer.

I use a PC, so I use Microsoft Word. When I finish the draft of a manuscript, I let it sit for up to a week. (Honestly, usually it doesn’t sit that long, just a few days.) When I open the file to edit, I use the Track Changes feature.

For fiction and nonfiction, I start with the little things: spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Then I move on to continuity. I look at things like flow and transitions. For fiction, I look at character development, dialog, and story progression. I look for plot holes. (Sometimes I don’t see them, so I use beta readers to help me find those.)

I go over it more than once before I send it to either an editor if I’m self-publishing or an agent/publisher if I want to go a different route. Typically, I go over it at least four rounds. Each round consists of multiple passes checking everything I mentioned above. On my current novel that I’m working on with The Wild Rose Press, I have about five passes for each round. I’m on the second round with them, which is really about the sixth round for me.

If you want to count each pass as its own editing round, then you could say RealmWalker: New Beginnings is undergoing its 30th editing pass. Is this too much?

No.

Each pass, each round is making the story better and the characters more developed and stronger. This is particularly important where BethAnne is concerned. She’s my primary point-of-view character. I don’t want her to come across as someone who needs to be saved by a hero.

When it’s time to get to work, I sit down at the computer, turn on some music, and open the file of the moment. It can’t be just any music, though. I get too caught up in the lyrics of contemporary music and traditional classical music doesn’t help. I listen to electronic music that specifically says it’s good for studying or concentrating. It has a good beat, good tempo, and very little or no lyrics.

It keeps me on track and I get into a good work flow with that kind of music playing in my headphones. (Earbuds. Whatever.)

Here’s my question for you: What does your editing process look like? Do you listen to any music or do you work in silence?

Am I Published?

Jen Nipps @ Open Mic
(c) 2017 Richard R. Barron Used with permission

If you’ve been on this blog any at all, you know the answer to this.

The short answer: Yes.

The long answer: Yes, and I have 10 books (including 2 novels and a book of poems), 3 short ebooks, and 3 short stories available under Jen Nipps (nonfiction) and Kat O’Reilly (fiction). I have another book in the editing process with a publisher and at least two more in that series. (One in progress, one in planning stages.)

I’ve had multiple articles and other short pieces published in WritingforDollars, Ada Magazine, the Ada News, Writers’ Journal, World of Myth Magazine, and 4Health Magazine. This doesn’t include various anthologies and other websites and blogs.

Some of the articles that were published in WritingforDollars have been republished in short ebooks through JEN Enterprises Presents and are: Bop Your Way Through Writer’s Block, 3 Keys to the Kingdom, and Why You Need a Writing Practice.

The short stories I currently have available are “They Call Me Malak,” “Sex, Politics, & Vampires,” and “This Is Your Karma.”

I’m keeping track of other things I want to write, so this is not all that you’ll see from me.

When Did I Start Writing?

ecrireHere’s another one that could probably go in the FAQs.

I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked this. The answer is…complex. My creative journey started when I was quite young, though I can’t put an exact year to it.

My mom used to be a babysitter. It was my job to help entertain the kids. I would make up stories for my brother and some of the other kids. Growing up, my mom encouraged my creativity. Telling stories was just one way she did this.

I think I could say I probably started writing around 12 years old. That’s how I remember it anyway. When I was in high school, my tenth grade English teacher required us to keep a journal. She would collect them once a week. She wouldn’t read what was written, but she would just check to see if we were writing in them every day.

I wrote my first poem in that journal.

When I was in 11th grade, I got brave and showed that poem to my English teacher. She liked it. From then on for the rest of the year, she would find student contests for me to enter.

I never really called myself a writer, though. I didn’t have “permission.” Even into college.

Then, during my fourth semester of college, I was waiting in a hallway for a class to end before my next one started. A classmate walked up and saw me reading Writer’s Digest and asked, “Oh, are you a writer?”

I hesitated. Then I said, “yes.”

In that moment, something in me shifted. Something clicked.

I had permission to call myself a writer!

That made all the difference in the world. After that, it didn’t matter if people thought I could or couldn’t do it. It didn’t matter if they liked what I wrote. It didn’t matter if they thought I was a “real writer” or not.

Why?

Because I KNEW I WAS!

I had given myself permission to call myself a writer. To be a writer. To tell anyone who asked what I did. That is when I really started writing.

Researching Books

Thinking
Image used courtesy of The Public Speaking Project under a Creative Commons license.

This could probably go into an FAQ section. A lot of times, I’m asked how much research do I do for my books.

The easy answer is: It depends on the book. Some require more research than others do.

Here’s the thing.

I like to research things. I can easily get lost in Google searches and following tangents until what I’m looking at bears nothing to the original search. So what do I do?

Honestly, I start writing. When I need to know something, I look up that thing. For example, in Navajo Rose, I needed to know some police scanner codes. I did a Google search on that phrase and got a pretty good list on various scanner codes used in law enforcement.

Doing research like this keeps me on track and I don’t go off on very many tangents.

It should go without saying that if I’m writing anything historical/semi-historical, I do a lot more research up front, but I do enough to get going and then look up whatever else I need to know.

I’m still hoping to find an old map of Ireland, the older the better.