Girls Write Out
Sunday, April 01, 2012

They don't call 'em deadlines for nothing. I'm pretty sure it's because most of us feel half dead when we get there. But if you plan ahead and work steadily, you can reach your deadline (real or self-imposed) with some measure of sanity. Every writer had their own method, but here's what I do to stay on top of mine--I haven't missed one yet:

1. Break down the task. A book is a huge project. Figure out how many pages (or words) you need to write a day to get your ms. finished by deadline. My quota is 6 quality pages per day (I edit as I write). Do the math--if I can do it, anyone can. Desired Page Count divided by Pages Per Day= how many days you need to write for your first draft. (For me: 350 pgs divided by 6= 59 writing days.)

2. Mark it down. Print out a calendar of your writing months and checkmark the days you will write your daily quota. Don't check the days you don't plan on writing (vacation/weekends/etc).

3. Add wiggle room. Add a few extra weeks between now and your deadline for life to happen. It will. It also leaves room for when you get stuck and need to spend your writing time fixing plot problems. This brings my writing time up to 80 days.

4. Add time for rewrites. I like to have a month for rewrites. This brings my writing time to a total of 110 days.

5. Stay accountable. Chart how many pages (or word count) you wrote each day on your calendar and tally up the end of each week. If you fall short one day, try to make it up by the end of the week. If you fall off track a bit, redo the math about 1/2 way through your WIP and adjust your calendar (or daily quota) as necessary.

You can see my sample calendar above for last month. Some days I didn't meet my quota because I was working to fix plot problems on those days. I'm 3/4 through my 1st draft, and I still have a week's wiggle room left. Plus my hubby gave me a spa day for our anniversary, and I was able to take a whole day off guilt-free. :)
Denise Hunter  
posted at 10:02 PM  
  Comments (11)
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At 7:41 AM, Blogger Suzanne said...

Now that's what I call organization. Is your whole life organized like that? I'm so bad at being organized though I do pride myself on a daily to-do list. Actually, I think it just keeps me from watching too many Lucy episodes.

At 8:34 AM, Blogger Denise Hunter said...

Some parts of my life or organized, other parts are, well, not. Deadlines and writing are very important to me, so I keep that part organized. :)

If Colleen reads this, she'll be quick to tell you that I organize my spices by alphabet, but then she hasn't looked in my closets . . .

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Mary F. Allen said...

A good reminder about how to incorporate the writing life into "real" life. I think too often we get the idea that the two war against each other when they should complement each other. If you're called to be a writer, you are, just as you are a mother, wife, teacher,or whatever. Thanks Denise.

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Dawn Crandall said...

I was so happy to see this! I am such a planner/plotter when it comes to writing--but I've never been able to figure out how to organize my time. I just need a guide... but everyone writes so differently! However, I think I can do this. I also edit as I write. Do you write a chapter, go back over it a few times and then save it in a pile of chapters to send to your CP? That's the rotation I've found myself on lately. :D Its been kind of hard to keep track of what I've done when.

Not that I really have deadlines. :0 I just want to have my second book written by the time my agent sells my first one. Yeah, I know. That could be A REALLY LONG TIME. :-/

This is the most useful blog post I've read all year. :)

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Denise Hunter said...

Glad it was helpful, Dawn. It takes very little time. Maybe 1/2 an hour at the beginning of a project and 5 seconds at the end of each writing session.

I edit as I write, then the next day I edit what I wrote the day before. When I reach the end of a chapter, I send it to Colleen.

Good for you for staying on task and setting up good habits. Good luck with selling your ms!

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Dawn Crandall said...

Thanks! It's only been out there in the world for 2 weeks... so I'm sure I have PLENTY of time to reach my self-inflicted "deadline." I look forward to getting on this "proper schedule." Starting today... :) Starting right now. :D

At 7:00 PM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

Cracks me up to see your system on a calendar. Love it! Tomorrow I'll write about MY system. You will shudder.

At 7:59 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

System...Organization...Deadline...I know I've heard those words before...somewhere.

At 12:12 PM, Blogger Kristin said...

Holy COw, what is that thing?? Denise, you scare me. You really, really scare me.

At 1:30 PM, Blogger Denise Hunter said...

LOL K! It's really quite simple.

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Diann Hunt said...

D, you'll be surprised to know I write just like this, calendar and all. So you're not alone. :-)


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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