Three weeks ago, I wrote the draft to an excellent blog post all about how clever I am working out a proper schedule, putting word count targets into a spreadsheet and rostering my time throughout the week, including the hours at my casual job.
My calendar was full. Really full. And I use a Mac too, so it was all colorful as well! The plan was to punch out 30,000 words of draft and edit 30,000 words of draft every week. At 2,000 words an hour, that equated to 15 hours drafting and 15 hours editing (note that I’d just pulled that editing number out of nowhere – I had no idea how long it takes to hammer 2,000 words of train-of-thought drivel into something I’d ever let someone else read). So that was 30 hours, on top of the 25 hours or so from my casual job. That’s how it’s meant to be right? This is a job now, not a hobby! Time to actually get stuck in and do the work.
I had lasted two days, burning out halfway through a five hour drafting block.
For the rest of the week, I poked and prodded at the draft I’d written and tried to at least finish the first draft of the first episode. I didn’t make it. I didn’t make my 30,000 word target. In fact, I think I wrote less in that week than I had written in four months. The draft blog post sat untouched.
The second week I decided to review my schedule. I changed my target to 15,000 words of drafting and editing. I figured that was achievable, and my colour-coded schedule looked much lighter.
I lasted a little longer during that week. Once again, however, I couldn’t stick to the schedule I’d put down. I updated the draft of the blog post to reflect my new targets, and then spent the majority of my time getting up to date on Game of Thrones season 4.
Though I didn’t get 15,000 words out, I did finish the draft on the first episode of my fantasy series, getting the revised draft to Ellie halfway through the week. She read it in about three days, and now I’ve moved on to editing it.
Just over a month ago, I got back into jogging after giving up on it earlier in the year due to knee pain. After doing some research I realised that I had hit it too hard the first time. I’m overweight, and every jog is slamming that weight down onto my knees. I have proper running shoes, so that’s not the problem. The problem was I jogged for too long, and tried to take on too much, without giving myself time to get used to the increase in difficulty.
This time around I took it easy. I increased my jogging amount very slowly, and for three weeks I got exactly no pain in my knees or shins. So I thought to myself, ‘Great! Now I can jog further and faster than I have before! I won’t get pain this time around!’ Instead of easing into the next ’step’ in my jogging program, I hit it full ball. Two days into this new jogging route, I felt pain in my knees like nothing I had felt before.
Why did I do it? That slight feeling of success made me stop looking at the long game and focus on the short term. I wanted it NOW. I wanted to jog faster and further NOW. What had I achieved? One week in knee braces and no jogging allowed for a while. When I get back to it, I’ll have to start at the beginning.
The timing of all this coincided precisely with the ridiculous writing schedule. Fact is, I had done exactly the same thing with my writing. I’d set up my own website! I’d created an email list! Some people have JOINED that email list! I’m a writer now! I can work 55 hours a week if I damn well want to!
I lost sight of the fact that I’m in this for the long run. While 30,000 words a week drafted and edited is great to aspire to, I wasn’t there yet.
So what happened this week? This week I realised that what I needed to do was what I had always done. I’ve always loved the idea of having a tightly packed diary of planned tasks and appointments. The problem is that as soon as I’m faced with something like that my mind starts to rebel, and I just find excuses to not do any of it. I need daily habits. The thought of writing 14,000 words in a week is daunting. The thought of writing 2,000 words a day is easy for me. All I really needed to do was add some editing to my daily routine, and I’m set. So long as I’m up at a reasonable time (i.e. before 7:30) I can get all my writing done before 12pm, and have the rest of my day for other things.
I don’t regret trying the scheduling thing though; sometimes you have to stop doing what works for you to understand how well it works.
If you want to see the progress of my current work, sign up for the email list and I’ll send you the link to the special “members only” section. This week I talk about the feedback I got on episode one of my fantasy series, along with an update on where everything else stands.