Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits with Kari: Featuring writing schedules and deadlines

Hi folks,

I am counting down the days until I leave for Florida....3!

I am so ready to have a vacation, but at the same time I have a deadline fast approaching. Corspe in the Crystal Ball is due May 1st....eeek!

So today's post is about balancing your personal life (family time) with your professional life (writing time / promotion) and meeting your dreaded deadlines.

In a word....ugh.

I used to love the days where I wrote what I wanted, when I wanted. But once you sell a book, you are no longer free to write at your leisure. You have a deadline. Your editor expects the book when the contract says it is due. And meeting multiple deadlines can be insane. Now, I know life gets in the way sometimes. And often times if you just talk to your editor, they will give you a couple weeks more. However, you don't want to get the reputation that you will always be late with your deadlines. It's unprofessional.

You also don't want to rush and turn something in early that's not ready yet. And then say, "Wait, read this one instead," and keep handing in new versions. That is also unprofessional. Even if I finish early, I tend to hold onto the manuscript until closer to my deadline, just in case I want to put it down for a while and give it a final read. You'd be amazed what you pick up on when you have some distance from a book.

So what I've come to do now is to create a schedule. I pull out my calendar and figure out exactly how many days I have until the book is due. Then I block out vacations, apts., school breaks, etc. I also only write Monday through Friday, taking the weekends off for family time. Once I know how many days I have to play with, I then figure out how many pages a day I have to write, leaving myself time for my cp to read it and for me to revise it.

Another good thing to know is how many pages an hour you can realistically write. I write 4 pages an hour when I'm on a roll. So I give myself 3 hours a day for writing time to make sure I can get 8 to 10 pages a day in. That leaves time for promotion, exercise, lunch, chores, etc. before my kids get home with evenings and weekends off to play Mom and wife. If I miss a day, I make up my pages on the weekend or in the evening. It's as simple as that.

When you break down your writing schedule, it really doesn't seem that difficult to finish a book in two months, leaving the third month for revising. Just be sure to stick to your schedule. It's only when you let other distractions take over, that you get way behind and finishing a book on time becomes overwhelming. I've been there, and trust me, it's not pretty. Not to mention your family will not be happy with you.

So tell me, how do you all stay on track? What is your writing process like? How long does it take you to finish a book? Do you make a schedule and stick to it?

Inquiring minds want to know :-)



Kari Lee Townsend said...

Bring on those comments and questions, folks. I'll chime in throughout the day in between packing for my trip. Can't wait to get away from this insane snowy winter for some fun in the sun!

Anita Clenney said...

This is a great topic, Kari, one I'm struggling with. I'm not very organized, but I'm finding that I really must figure out a schedule now that I have deadlines. I have a book due the end of June and I'm no where near finished. So I'm in panic mode. I've decided that I'll have to write X number of pages to get it ready in time for my CP to have a couple of weeks to look at it.

Have a great time in Florida.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Timely post for me. As a debut author with only one book deadline on my plate, I've already begun to wonder about balancing writing with life. I tend to be a bit obsessive about the deadline, something my editor will no doubt love, but unable to find the balance. Maybe it's just a first book thing, but I'm not convinced. My contract hasn't arrived yet and I've already done revisions, front pages, etc. and am finishing up the art fact sheet.
I do like the idea of visually blocking out things on the calendar. Here's hoping I can find the balance. Enjoy your vacation!

Liz Lipperman said...

Call this a resounding ..UGG...from me, too. I have said many times be careful what you wish for, and you are the perfect example, Kari, with two 3 book contracts from proposals. Gone are the days of, "Maybe I'll write today."

My deadline for my second book is April 1st - kinda funny that it's April fools' Day!!

Anyway, I set pages per week goals instead of writing schedules. But I am the mother of all procrastinators. For example, I finished book 1 in July. On January 1st, I had less than a hundred pages written. Talk about panic.
So for all of January and February, I have written 25 pages a week.

Now that may not seem like a big deal to a lot of you, but I write longhand plus I edit as I go...in other words, I am like a snail writer. The end product needs very little revising, but still. In January I went into panic mode, but I've pushed myself. I have about 50 more pages to finish.

Another panic-maker, I have a new granddaughter coming at the end of March, but I'm thinking it could be any day now. I have to be finished since I will be in charge of my two year old granddaughter then.

I tend to spend the first month or so (last time 5 months!!) plotting and researching...and procrastinating. I promised myself I will stick to an easier schedule (one chapter a week) for Book Three.

So, yes, this is a timely post for me. Now back to the grind.

And Debbie, congrats on your book deal. Can you tell us about it?

Debbie Kaufman said...

I'd be happy to tell you about it! Love Inspired Historicals bought my missionary adventure/romance about three weeks ago. It has an unusual setting of the pioneering mission days in 1918 Liberia, Africa and deals with everything from broken vows to cannibals. LIH called six days after receiving the full, leaving me in shock! The Doctor's Mission will be out November 2011! Thanks for letting me share!

Donna Cummings said...

Great post, Kari. I don't have a book deal yet, but I'm trying to prepare myself for that day. :) I have a hard time taking a day off, because I feel like I should write every day, although I'm not sure that's as productive as it's intended to be. I hate to admit it, but I think I may have to set some sort of schedule, even a loose one.

Debbie, congrats on your recent sale!

Lindsay said...

All of a sudden I realize that I'm the lucky one. I don't have a contract deadline and I guess I should revel in the freedom.
I do, however, have two contest deadlines for short stories. At least there I've got some flexibility. Enter or not.
The only other place I have a deadline, if I want, is on my blog. Trying, wanting, hoping to post a story every two weeks. in between working of the two contests and working on my next full.
Anyway Kari, have a great time in Florida, the snow will still be here when you get back.

Mary Martinez said...

Great post Kari. That is one of the things I remember from Stephen King's On Writing put your baby away for 6 weeks (his recommendation) then you'll be able to edit. I find that one of the most helpful pieces of advice I've ever found. Because if I try editing too son, I have trouble cutting away the unnecessary. It's still my 'baby'.

Good luck!

Kari Lee Townsend said...

I hear you, Anita. If I don't set that schedule, it won't get done. Eeek. Good luck to you. I LOVE your books!!!

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Debbie, you sound like you're a lot more ahead of schedule than I am. I've only written 12 pages so far. LOL. But then again, my last book I wrote in 3 weeks and it needed almost no edits. I seem to work better under pressure, but I'm trying to avoid that since my body can't take it anymore.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Donna, I have 4 kids....I LIVE for my schedules :-))

And congrats to Debbie as well. I forgot to say that.

And Donna, you will be next. I have a feeling :-)

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Revel away, Lindsay :-)

Good luck with all your stories. And you can have the snow. I'm done with it if only for a week!

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Thanks Mary. And I agree, putting your work aside for a while is so helpful in seeing the flaws. You just have to budget for that. I'm not always good at sticking to my schedules but I'm sure going to try this time.