Monday, August 8, 2016

Write Now! Series: My Writing Plan

Write Now! 
How to write a book in your spare time, even if you're busy!



II. My Writing Plan:

As I mentioned before, after I finished my f
irst novel, I wanted to write another, but I didn’t want to take as long as I had the first time. So, I set out to find a way to cut down the time and ended up devising a writing plan. The first step was finding the time.

Carving Out Time:
As I mentioned, I read an article about author John Grisham, which stated that he set a writing goal for himself to write at least five pages a day. I knew that writing daily wasn’t always an option, but the take away I received from the article was to set a writing goal for myself and then to stick with it … not matter what.

I soon realized that the first thing I needed to do was to carve out time in my busy schedule to find time to write.

I have a full-time day job as a teacher and, during the regular school year, even my weekends are taken up with grading papers and making lesson plans, not to mention spending time with my own children and the normal responsibilities that I’m sure you have, too. So, the first thing I did was to take a close look at my life, and I asked myself how much free time I had.

I realized that every Friday night and Saturday morning was my time. After the children went to bed, I spent the evening watching television, and then spent Saturday morning watching television while grading papers and having my morning coffee. I decided that the paper grading could wait until noon, so I realized that every Friday night and Saturday morning was free each week. Bingo! There was my writing time.

Do the Math:
Next, I did the Math. I’m sure you’re saying right now, “Math? Really? But this is a book about writing!”

Yes, this is a book about writing, but even with writing, you need to do Math. Sorry, but it’s true. That said, I decided that I wanted my book to be a full-length book, about four hundred pages long or less. Then, I decided that I wanted my book to be about twenty chapters. So, I decided that each chapter needed to be about twenty pages.

I knew that writing is a creative craft and is in no way rigid or stagnant, so I decided to make my chapters between ten to twenty pages per chapter.

When I write, I write scenes and clearly see the characters and action, as if seeing a movie within my mind; one that I can rewind and slow down in order to include details to write it clearly. (More about that later.) However, when I started writing, I realized that my average, well-developed scene was about ten pages. So, I knew that I needed two scenes per chapter.

Hence, my writing plan was born! I decided to write twenty scenes per book, two scenes per chapter, and each chapter would be between ten to twenty pages long.

Digestible Bites:
After doing the Math, I looked at the amount of time that I could commit each week to write and knew that I had to do for myself what I do for my students—break down writing my novel into digestible bites.

So, I decided to take my writing plan out for an early test drive.

One Friday night and Saturday morning, I spent writing and, low and behold, I was able to write a complete chapter, which was more than I had been able to write in a while. I was elated! I had spent Friday night and Saturday morning writing, and even had time to edit what I had just written! Yes! I had a plan! So, I decided that my writing goal would be to write at least one chapter a week, and that I would do it every Friday night and Saturday mornings.

The thing to do when writing a full-length novel is not to look at the whole picture, which can be overwhelming. Once you have a plan, just look at one chapter or one scene at a time. This way, the task of writing a whole novel doesn’t seem so daunting. If you break it down into digestible bites, then before you know it, your novel will be complete.

My Writing Plan:
I then made a commitment to write one chapter a week, every week, without fail. And if something came up that prevented me from writing during the time that I had set aside, I vowed to make up the time on another night. Soon, I started writing regularly and things began to flow. But if there was a day that I couldn’t write, I remembered my weekly writing commitment to write one chapter per week and didn’t beat myself up about it. Try it! It’s quite liberating. Also, if there were days or weeks when I could write more, I did.

Sticking to my commitment, I finished my second book in less than five months, which was much less time than I had spent writing my first novel.

Now, I’ve written full-length novels in as little as one month using this method when I have more time. But I never beat myself up if it still takes me five months. In fact, that is what many full-time writers do. Many big names such as Danielle Steele publish two books a year. So, at this rate, I felt good about my writing time frame.

Smaller Book Plan:
For smaller novels, I write just one scene per chapter instead of two, with the idea that each chapter would be between ten to fifteen pages. This is for books about two hundred pages long. However, it you want to write a full-length novel, then writing two scenes per chapter with the page count between ten to twenty pages works perfectly for books around four hundred pages long or less.

Also, it’s important to note that full-length novels, whether short or long, should be between 50,000 and 100,000 words. A publisher once told me that any novel longer than that is too long winded. She was right. Since then, I’ve always tried to stick to that adage and to make my books no longer than 100,000 words long. However, when you start writing, you’ll be able to develop a length that feels comfortable for you. I never get caught up on word count, though. Some stories need more words to tell it, and others, not so much. The thing to do is to make your writing concise with no extra fluff. If a scene does not move the story forward, then it

Most new writers want to hold on to every precious word that they write, but don’t be afraid to let it go. Oftentimes, if I think I may need a scene later that I need to cut at the moment, I save it as an unused scene. Then, I can go back and add it in or modify it if I need to. But more about that later.
Okay, enough about my writing plan. Let’s get to work on your writing plan!
 ***
Since writing this section, I now made the committment to write daily. I've developed the habit of getting up an hour early and writing every morning. Since doing this, I've increased my writing output exponentially. However, if there is a day when I cannot write, I don't beat myself up about it. I just get up the next morning and continue with my writing plan. 

So, whether you write daily or weekly, the most important thing is to commit to an amount of time each week ... abd the stick to it!

Join me tomorrow when we will create your own writing plan! Happy writing! 

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