Crazy planning continues in 2020

I have become a planning machine, because I like things to go to plan, not that they do, but I like to pretend it is a possibility.

Recently I shared my review of 2019, where I talked about what a great year 2019 turned out to be.

This year is going to be even bigger. Firstly I have a significant birthday and I’m not hiding from it for the first time ever – although it ends in a 5 rather than a 0 so it isn’t quite so scary. Secondly, this is the year I hope to finally start making some money from my writing and be able to take the time to write more – because there are so many stories in my head, and not enough time to write them.

Here is the plan for 2020:

  • Publish the remaining episodes of the Iski Flare Series – that is 8, 9 and 10 and put out a second box set.
  • Publish The Heart of Oldra (The Mark of Oldra, Book 2) which has been a very long time in the thinking.
  • Finish drafting and publish the first three books of the new series (and draft the next couple of books ready for 2021).
  • Plan (I mean - get a clear idea of what I would like to do, before the characters take over) the next couple of series (which are linked to each other, maybe, if I don’t come up with another idea in the meantime). I did mention that I get lots of ideas, didn’t I?
  • I will continue with the regular newsletters (two a month).
  • I would like to interact more with people on social media – I’m going to start by posting more frequently.
  • And I have upped my reading challenge for this year. I got a bit lazy last year and could have read far more than I did (again, too much Korean drama).

These plans are all marked out on the calendar – what I’m writing or editing on any given day, along with set dates to send to the editor, and publishing dates. I have a scheduled the covers for a couple of months before release dates so that I can share them sooner and get the pre-orders up as soon as possible.

If I could do it in 2019, I can do it again. All I need is for Iski to behave. You would think a faery tale hero would be a bit easier to get along with – who knew?!

The first release for 2020 will be The Heart of Oldra in February. I will share the cover and brief excerpt on my blog later this month. If there is something particular you would like me to share, put it in the comments, or send an email to georgina[at]theflowofink.com

Planning for next year

Usually by September I am well into planning next year. That isn’t going as well this year. I have overloaded myself, again, and Iski isn’t working as well as I would like and I never seemed to be doing what I want …

 

We have entered the last quarter of the year and I worry I’m not going to achieve what I wanted to this year.

 

It isn’t all bad:

I have recently released a new book and I’m working on all that goes with a new release. I’m editing book 3 while I wait for book 2 to come back from the beta readers, which is starting to trickle in now and I think I have some serious work ahead of me.

I’m thinking about future projects (maybe too often) and Iski is well behind schedule but will come back together, I hope.

I also had a moment after seeing the wondrous things my cover designer for Raven Crown series could do and I have commissioned them to rework The Mark of Oldra cover. Can’t wait to see what they produce! So stay tuned for a re-launch.

I’ve also had some viral bug working on my system and sucking my energy so I’m not getting up as early (and daylight savings threw me out of whack and I’m struggling to get to bed).

 

Still crazy:

I have a crazy list of what to do before Christmas to ensure next year (as rough as it is) will work.

I have bought myself a fancy diary and set up an excel spreadsheet that covers every day next year and what I might get done (this really only served to freak me out).

There are too many stories forming in my mind and not enough time to write them down, well at least not yet. And I’d like to try some different things. I have an urban fantasy idea along with a dystopian one…and then there are the short stories related to the current world I’m working on (Raven Crown) that I’m using for back story and side story and for readers on my email list. That doesn’t include the stories I’m outlining that I hope to start next year.

 

So I am closer than I thought but not as ready as I’d like to be. One of my main concerns for next year is getting stories to my readers on a regular basis. Along with the Raven Crown Series, I will be starting a new trilogy next year and really want to be able to get book 1 of that series out to readers by the end of the year. I’m not sure how realistic that goal is yet.

At the end of the year I will post how many of my 2017 goals I reached and exactly what I’m planning for 2018.

If you have an idea of what you would like to see/read in a short story, please let me know and I may be able to use your idea for a launch story or extra bonus for my readers.

 

What I have learnt from 2016

phone-1163

I have learnt far more than I was expecting to this year. Not all of it was easy to learn, but is was useful now I know. Here is a round up of what I have learnt looking back over 2016.

 

I don’t put in as much time as I think I do on my writing

I’m still tracking my time but I go through stretches where I’m really good, other times I’m not.

 

I need to look after myself

If I’m too knackered to write, don’t beat myself up but rest and regroup. Found this out the hard way when I really crashed in February this year. And working around day job and children means there will be time when there isn’t the energy to write.

 

Life happens – go with it

And that isn’t always easy. From crazy dance schedules to losing a friend, life will interrupt the writing. But then writing can help deal with life at times. There will be times when writing can’t happen and you just have to go with it. The key is to ensure you write when you can.

 

Be realistic in planning

I try to do this all the time, but this year I really didn’t allow appropriate time for several stages of a project and it threw me out completely. I have adjusted for this for 2017 and spent lots of time double checking and then allowing extra time – just in case. I just need to ensure I’m where I want to be at the end of December.

 

I am still enjoying the writing process

Sometimes it all seems too hard to rework a story or fix a plot point; but when it comes down to it I would rather be writing than doing anything else. I still enjoy the flow of words across the page (when they flow) and the stories that develop as I write. I have a developed a few more ideas this year that I’m not going to be able to do anything with yet, but they are little seeds growing into story ideas all the same.

 

Outsourcing is great

I’m not always very good at this, but I have reached outside of my comfort zone to employ cover designers and a proofreader this year. The relationships with both worked really well and will continue it into next year and other projects.

 

Changes for 2017

There aren’t many – in fact there is only one. I found as the year continued that meeting my blogging schedule in my limited writing time was becoming harder. I would like to continue to blog but not as often. So it will be more of an irregular blogging schedule and more when I have something specific to talk about.

I will continue to release a monthly newsletter and will maintain the website.

I have big plans for books next year and leading into 2018!

Stay tuned, I’ll release my plans for next year in January.

My Current Writing Plan

My Current Writing PlanAs we get close to the middle of the year I am looking at where my writing is at. I will share my mid-year goal review at the end of the month but in the mean time I wanted to share what I have been doing with my current planning.

Before this year started I mapped out what I would like to achieve and how I thought I would do that. This process included producing a schedule for each stage of every project so that I could work out what could overlap and maximise my working schedule.

This has changed as the year has progressed due to slippage. That is because some stages have taken longer than expected and some weeks I’m not spending the time I thought I would on each project.

As June started I looked at where I wanted to be, what I had completed on those main projects and what I could seriously achieve.

I picked one project and, using my time keeping notes, I determined how much time I would need for each stage. And then worked out, with all my other commitments what I could put in each day (I have to make the time, not hope it is there) and so determine how far I could get with each.

I printed out a blank calendar and, armed with a pencil, I mapped out what I could do each day toward each stage of the project. Then I went back, took the next project and did the same.

Amongst all of this I have a blog to maintain and a newsletter to produce, so I worked out how I could squeeze a little time in each day to draft those. I find it easier to just dot down notes for my topics for the month, then push out a rough draft, before I find a photo to go with it, and research appropriate links if needed, and smooth out the text. Sometimes in 15 minutes I can have the bare bones of two or three blog posts. And 15 minutes isn’t too hard to find.

So after all of this work – and a lot of pencil sharpening – I had a clear and achievable plan for June. This planning process does take time, but it makes life easier because each day I have a clear idea of what I need to do to continue to meet my writing goals and publishing schedule.

And it reminded me that I need to focus on what is important and ensure I make the time every day to reach my goals, not sit back and wait for time.

My Drafting Process

My Drafting ProcessI have talked previously about my editing process, but as I’m currently drafting a new Iski Flare story I thought you might be interested in my processes around drafting.

I started out as a pantser and deep down I still kind of go with the flow. But now I would describe myself as a bit more of a planning pantser.

There are lots of articles and books out there with a range of opinions on how to outline and plan your story, and the level of detail you need before you start writing.

I use a combination of processes to outline each Iski Flare story but it seems to work best for me, at this stage. I start with the idea and the fairytale I’m basing my story on. I try to pull my idea down into a single sentence but at this early point it is more the idea of the story.

Then I use some tips from Holly Lisle to pull the main characters, the main conflict, twists and setting together.

I use this as the base to start the Snowflake Method. I don’t use all of this process as I think it gets too detailed. But I follow the steps through, summarising the story as a paragraph and then expanding that out to a page with all the main story points.

KM Weiland is brilliant when it comes to structure and plotting, and she has written several really good books on the subject. I have a summary page I created with a structure outline with all the main stage needed for a good story structure.

I then put my page long summary into the structure sheet to create my outline. I think for some of my larger works I need to develop that a bit further to include some more detailed beats. But for Iski it is enough.

For each Iski episode I aim for around 20,000 words. So I also add to the outline roughly how many words I want in each section.

Then it’s time to write.

I make the time and using the notes as a starting point away I go.

I don’t worry about spelling, I don’t read back over what I have written, unless it is the beginning of the next writing session and I might need a little reminder. I just type. I don’t worry if it is any good, I don’t worry if I’ve forgotten a name, or haven’t got a name yet.

For this first draft I am only worried about getting the story down. The bones of it onto the page.

It is the editing process that will look at the details and make sure that it all flows together, that there is consistency, and that everyone has a name and a clear voice.

The first draft is getting a feel for the story. For me it is Iski letting me know what he wants, or discovering it with him as he works his way through the issues with Flare, those he meets and his ongoing battle to prove himself a man. Sometimes he gets whiny, or frustrating but I have to let that go, let him talk it out or punch it out sometimes, and then we can revisit on the next round.

What happens when you can’t write…

My usual evening position - trapped beneath dogs.
My usual evening position – trapped beneath dogs.

My life over the last couple of weeks has been a bit crazy. My parents are away and I am chicken watching and puppy sitting. It has not been quite the two weeks I thought it was going to be.

I had plans. Great plans of what I would do with my evenings alone, my free weekend and my uninterrupted mornings. But alas life does not turn out as we wish it would… mine certainly hasn’t this week.

Two days before my parents left on their great adventure one of the above mentioned puppies broke his leg and he needed to be kept quiet. It was harder than I thought to explain that to the puppy, or his brother. And the two of them have turned my life upside down. They have cried all night, clung to me all day and made doing anything very difficult. I have been so tired that when they do go to sleep (usually on me) I don’t have the energy to do anything.

Amongst all of this we have had the usual school and dancing stuff and I still have to go into work (which is a welcome relief other than my eyes slamming shut at my desk).

So I sound a bit whingey. I feel whingey. I am not writing and I want to be and that makes me grumpy – to the point I can see my daughter pause before she asks me anything in case I don’t react quite right, which just fills me with guilt. And certainly does not help.

I will make it up. It is just the frustration that I can’t put in what I want to. I had hoped to have my next short story ready for publication over Easter but it won’t be. I feel behind with my blog and I am working through the last week of an online course which I feel I can’t give my all.

The parents return in a couple of days. I can hand back the house and the chickens. The dogs will be handed to them at the airport (OK, I’m fantasising now) and I can shut myself in my room and sleep for two days to catch up and then I’m ready to go again. But it also means that until my house is finished I need to find better ways of writing while the parents are home because waiting for them to holiday hasn’t work well at all.

So cute when they are sleeping...
So cute when they are sleeping…

So while I count the seconds until their return I will work on ways to get at least a small amount of writing done to keep some form of sanity. Maybe a little sneaky time during the day job (it is how this post was written), it saves trying to fend off small dogs determined to chew the cord or screen or me while I try to work at home…

I’ll be back when my sanity returns (hopefully before Christmas).

Tell me I am not alone – what do you do when life gets in the way of your writing?