Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The daily schedule

What follows really is "A day in the life..."
Some of you have noticed that this blog post is “a week late.” My wife and I were visiting my son and his family (including my adorable granddaughter) in Wisconsin. Besides not having a lot of time, they live in the far north of the state and Internet access is, well, inconsistent.
But, I’m back in San Diego now.
I have three kinds of “days” in my life.
1.             No writing days. While not common, these do exist. The schedule for these days varies and is unimportant to today’s topic.
2.            Some writing days. On these days, my writing time is restricted to either morning or afternoon. This schedule is always based on other activities: doctors, financial planners, family responsibilities.
On some writing days, I either write in the morning or afternoon. Since the times I do write are structured as on my third type of day, read on for specifics.
3.            Writing days. I try to being writing before 8:00 AM. Since I’m always up before 0600, I have time for walking the dogs, devotions, and breakfast/newspaper before I dive into the process. Regardless of which of the two schedules provided below I’m following, I always take a break around noon to exercise and have a light lunch.
A.   If I’m writing new storyline. New stories kind of come out without much urging or control. So, I might write for an extended time, 2-3 hours, without stopping because I want to get as much as I can down and saved before it evaporates. Eventually, by the end of one of these days, I might have put in 8-10 hours of writing. My best production that I’ve documented is 6000 words on one of these days. I almost always stop by 7:00 PM, but do run as late as 9:30 on occasion—a night owl I am not!
B.   If I’m editing. This is my most highly structured type of day. Editing is a laborious process. I wrote about some of that process in an earlier blog, Quick Tip: Be aware of what one word can help you do, and will expand in a future blog, 10 More Editing Ideas to Make Your Revisions Less Revolting. Suffice it to say that I take more frequent breaks when I’m editing.
                          i.       First reason for more breaks. It’s just hard work. After all, you have to cut off part of yourself when you edit. I mean, you wrote what you wrote and thought it was good enough to keep. And, if you’re working on a second or third revision, you’ve already agonized a lot over the prose before. I get up and wander about once an hour, on final edit days.
                        ii.       Last reason for more breaks. They help keep my outlook fresh. Unless I move around and get the blood flowing through my cerebral cortex, I miss items that should have been edited out or corrected. I’ve never published a “perfect” manuscript, and I doubt I ever will. But my goal is no errors in the published manuscript.
So that’s it. May your writing days be productive ones.

Next Blog: Idea farming—growing your plot
Follow me on Twitter: @CRDowningAuthor and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CRDowningAuthor
My website is: www.crdowning.com

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Managing more than one project

While you might have the luxury of working on one thing at a time, I do not. I suppose I could arrange my schedule towards achieving that goal, however, I cannot imagine not having more than one project going at any given time.
Right now, as I sit writing this blog entry, I have the following writing projects going.
A.            Final editing for The Observers – A Science Fiction Odyssey. This book, 72K words long and my second with http://www.koehlerbooks.com, has been edited for format and story (back and forth) and content (also back and forth). It’s currently at the copy edit back on the East Coast. As soon as I get that edit sent to me, this will become my number one priority because I want to make sure we keep our December 2015, release date.
B.            Second edits and copy edits of the seven stories that will be part of Traveler’s HOT L #2 (that’s the working title). Right now at 92K words in length, this book will be published through Amazon’s CreateSpace, as was RIFTS-A Science Fiction Thriller. Release date target for Traveler’s HOT L #2 is pre-Thanksgiving of this year. This is my #1 priority when The Observers is back at the publisher.
C.            Currently at the imagine and create stage, is a book idea I’m working on with a co-author, Gregg Gibbs, a retired Irvine, California Police Sergeant. Stay tuned for details. This project pops into first place when I have a nuance for an idea already in place. Until then, it’s not really on the radar.
D.            Also, in the queue are two detective books starring Phil Mamba, my private detective—he has a story in each of the Traveler’s HOT L books. The first exclusively Mamba book is composed of four of his case files with the fourth being a “you solve it,” story. The second book is a full-length novel based on a real event. I’m looking at 2015 release dates on those.
Ongoing, non-writing projects include:
E.            Starting last week, I am teaching two sections of a class on Curriculum and Assessment for Azusa Pacific University’s Teacher Credential Program. This two-class obligation will continue until at least late January.
F.             Being a husband, father, and grandpa.
G.            Keep up with preparation for my Adult Life Group class at Mission Church of the Nazarene in San Diego.
Still more stuff
H.           Being part of my almost 93-year-old mom’s life.
I.              Then there’s twice daily dog walking.
J.             Honey-do items.
K.            Oh, yeah. Facebook, Twitter, and webpage management.
You get the drift.
So, how do I keep all the plates spinning on their spindly sticks?
1.        I know what my projects are.
That may sound like nonsense, but if I don’t keep in mind what the priority projects are for me in any given day, I end up spending inordinate amounts of time on what might be legitimate activities that are not one of my current projects. So, first off, know what you are working on that has a deadline—that’s probably one of your projects.
1.             I map out time each day for projects and the other legitimate stuff.
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” From 1955-2012, most every weekday of my life had a set schedule—school of some sort. Whether as a student or teacher, that’s how many years I was “in school.”
When I retired, I had to make a schedule. It’s not controlled by a bell system. But, I do have time blocked out for Prayer/Devotions, Writing, APU stuff, Other Life Items. Most days I stick to the schedule—if I err, it’s almost always to allow for more writing time because sometimes I just have to get that story out of my brain!
2.            I work with a wonderful publicist.
I recommend working with a professional who values your work and works for you to make your writing better. I am most fortunate to be working with Sherry Frazier (http://www.frazierpublicrelations.com/).
She has helped me focus. She has kicked my tush on occasion, when I deserved it. She has redirected my focus when asked. She is one of my biggest fans.
I cannot give her high enough recommendations.
3.            I don’t let creative juice spoil.
I can only edit existing material for a certain length of time. Then, I have to do something new. So, I build into my timeline enough flextime to allow me to take a break on the very necessary editing processes and work on new storylines, characters, whatever.
So, what’s the bottom line on Managing more than one project?
Know your projects. Plan your work time. Find someone who’ll keep you on track. Keep on writing.
Next Blog: The daily schedule
Follow me on Twitter: @CRDowningAuthor and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CRDowningAuthor
My website is: www.crdowning.com

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