Friday miscellany: The writing plan

We opened the backyard pool a few weeks ago, but it has been way too cold to go in…until this week! The maiden voyage happened on Wednesday. Only the 6-year-old was brave enough to stay in for long, and even he was shivering pretty fast. But two days of 85-plus degree weather — and the heater — warmed it up fast and yesterday afternoon was beautiful.

So even though the kids have about a month left of school, this means that summer is at least sort of here. I plan to post my summer fun list next week. We’re still deep in late spring activities — these past few days featured three karate classes, two baseball games, two early morning science clubs, and this weekend will bring two more baseball games and two soccer games plus rock climbing class — but the end of much of this is in sight.

I had a little adventure yesterday. I’ve long been curious about the Woodmont estate, an old mansion on 70 acres about 2 miles from my house. It’s owned by the International Peace Mission, the organization started by Father Divine, and run by Mother Divine after his death. A local trails association that I’m a member of arranged a tour of the grounds this week and so I finally got to see it. As of next month, my family will have lived in this suburb outside Philly for 10 years — I’m amazed how much I’m still learning about this place.

Next week I start my official writing schedule for Tranquility by Tuesday (my next book, to be published in 2022). I’ve set Friday deadlines over the summer for the intro, nine chapters, and the conclusion. I have skipped the three weeks when I am on vacation or our nanny is on vacation. So the intro draft will be done May 28, chapter 1 on June 4, chapter 2 on June 11 and so forth.

Each week I’ll aim to write 5000-7000 words (probably a bit less for the intro). I plan to do the bulk of the writing on Monday and Tuesday each week. To that end, I have left the first two days of each week mostly free, or at least free in the morning (when I do my best writing). In general I will write on Monday and Tuesday, and then edit on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday is my back-up day, available to absorb anything that didn’t get done earlier in the week.

If I stick with this schedule, I will have a full first draft of the book by late August. Then I can do more edits during September and turn in the first draft of the manuscript on October 1. Since the book won’t be out until late summer 2022 that leaves a lot of time for more edits and such. Write fast, edit slow, as I always say.

Life can always surprise you, but I do think this schedule is doable. Writing 2500-ish words per writing day is just not that much. This is especially true since I have already written explanations of each time management strategy (that went out in the emails to participants). I have quotes pulled from people’s survey responses, and so a reasonable amount of chapter writing is going to be cutting and pasting. I’m really excited to be embarking on this project. These rules help me keep my life going reasonably well and the survey showed that they helped other people feel better about their time (to a high degree of statistical significance!) so I’m excited to share this all more broadly.

In any case, if you are staring down a big project, I highly recommend the strategy of setting smaller intermediate goals. This is the whole idea of, say, a marathon training plan. You slowly raise your mileage week by week until you can do a 20-mile long run three weeks before the race. I’m enjoying my daily intermediate goals with reading War and Peace. One chapter every day since January 1st and I’ll be done in late December. Learning to play a new piece of difficult music might involve mastering a few lines each week. I’ve got a front row seat to watching my new (old) house go through its massive renovation with various intermediate deadlines. Demo and framing first. Flooring. HVAC. The roof starts soon. The key to achieving anything substantial is breaking those big goals into doable chunks and then establishing a timeline for those steps. As each deadline gets met, a sense of progress kicks in.

Or at least that’s what I’m hoping for! Now, onward…

Photo: View from the highest point in the county…


4 thoughts on “Friday miscellany: The writing plan

  1. I am so excited for Tranquility by Tuesday. You are a unique, encouraging, and realistic voice in the ‘time management’ space. I like to describe you as a ‘time realist’. You bring a balanced ‘no excuses’ perspective that is refreshingly peaceful. Speaking of peaceful…I thought the picture was the view from your pool!!!!

  2. I’m very much looking forward to Tranquility by Tuesday! We are quite similar in some ways (upholders who love the written word, runners, mothers of toddlers who didn’t respond to sleep training lol, etc.) and I find that the things that work for you often work for me too! 🙂

  3. This post, and the related “Before Breakfast” post really resonates with me. After over a year, theatre is finally starting up. I just began working on a show (Master Class) as the pianist, and I have to learn 3 rather challenging operatic accompaniments for the 3 characters in the show. Since we open in August, I have made a schedule of how to learn each work concurrently so that I can support each actor as they rehearse their parts during our rehearsal process. Slow and steady on each piece will allow us to successfully learn and perfect these works by showtime!

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