Remember a couple of posts ago when I was talking about standing at the edge and knowing that leaping into this I'm-finally-going-to-write-that-novel-I've-been-working-on-for-years pool was going to be super shitty and hard and basically freaking out? Well, I pulled myself together and decided that all I needed was a plan. I tackled this gigantic endeavor as I would any project of its scope and magnitude: I broke it down to requirements and measurable deliverables and defined how to utilize my resources. (Told you I was a total data girl and project manager extraordinaire!)
Here are my requirements:
1) I'd made a commitment to read the entire manuscript we will be critiquing at our August writer's group meeting. Since this is book two of the trilogy of which the first book already has a publishing deal, I know I can't slack on that commitment and call myself one of the members of my kick-ass writing group. Since typically my reading happens via iPod, having to sit down and actually READ a book represents significant time.
2) I am still training for whatever I decide to do in the fall - I keep going back and forth about whether I'm going to do another half marathon or not - so I can't slack off on my running or sacrifice training time for writing time. I just got new shoes. My last pair were new in late February and I'd already run three hundred miles on them. Three hundred miles every five months makes this not a small deliverable.
3) I have to find time to write in the non-magical world where there are only 24 hours in a day, of which I still have to work eight at my "real" job and spend at least a few hours with my family being a wife and mother. I have to write every day and be consistent about it or nothing is ever going to be different than now where I talk about writing as if it will always be in the future and never happening in the present. The Universe sent me LOTS of pointers on this one in the form of podcast topics and daily writing tips telling me to JUST. DO. IT. Kind of like shouting it at me with a "FOR GOD'S SAKE" added for good measure.
So here's the general plan that I came up with...
First, I gave myself a super tight deadline of finishing the critique for my writer's group by the end of July. I was only two days late. Check that one off the list!
Second, starting August 1, I will write everyday and act as if THIS month is NaNoWriMo month and just keep at it until the first draft is done.
And finally, stick with the same running schedule I used while training for Ragnar all year since I know for the most part it works for my life.
How does that actually look with my schedule? Monday through Friday workdays I either run at work (short-run day) or at the gym (the night Big Sister does NOT have dance) or in the morning (mid-week longer run). When I get home from work, I'm a Mom/Taxi until the kids are tucked into bed at a reasonable time. No more letting Big Sister stay up as late as she wants. Since school starts in three weeks and we need to get back to a scheduled bedtime this works anyway. The hours between 9:30 bedtime and when my natural clock winds down for the day, somewhere between 11:30 and midnight, will be devoted to writing - with the exception of Friday nights which I protect and preserve for quality time with Hubby. Weekends are devoted to at least one long run - typically about ten miles Sunday morning - and getting on top of mundane things like laundry and dishes and perhaps squeezing in a touch of a social life - aka, the things I have been doing between the kid's bed time and mine until now. Since weekends are way more flexible I will write a minimum of three hours a weekend somewhere between the two days. My house may be less clean for a while, I'll definitely have to drink more coffee than normal and my DVR will fill up with all the things I won't be watching regularly; but all of these things are worth what I'll be gaining in return - being a novelist.
I'm off to an amazing start - only two days late due to the critique deadline that I blew but who's counting, right? The first night I spent two hours rekindling the story in my mind and working out any bugs in the outline I've got so far. I figured out that the story should actually start with what's in Chapter Three so I had to work the back story info-dump I had planned for chapters one and two in elsewhere. And, I determined which of the three main characters point of view each chapter/section would be written from. In the wee hours before dawn when I was awakened over and over again for a pretty heinous on-call shift, an element of the story kept churning through my head and I came up with the missing piece of my world's creation myth - got to love bonus non-planned creative time, right? Don't forget, I have RELIGION of all things in my book. Insane, I know. Even more so when you realize that I have to basically come up with the equivalent of an entirely new system of mythology to explain what and why things happen and why people let them happen without question. Last night, I worked another three chapters into the outline... and busted out a blog post which actually by definition counts as part of my writing.
It feels amazing making progress on the novel and it's crazy how I kept thinking it was going to be so hard to find all this time and stick to such a rigid and unbending schedule so I wouldn't have to sacrifice anything in my life. What I didn't factor in is that I enjoy writing so much that the time just flies by and all the shit about how tight my schedule is doesn't even matter. Here's to starting strong and continuing the trend all the way to the end! I am a novelist by definition since I am writing a novel... regardless of whether I ever get said novel published or not.