Self-Editing for Dummier Dummies (like me)

Every writer generally falls into a process that works for them. But if there’s one thing I know to be true, it’s this: Every writer is always looking out for a process that is better than the one they have. Maybe deep down we all hope that a tweak in the process will result in the next bestseller?

Anyway, I’m no different. My process has generally been this –

  • sketch out a plot (using Tick-Tock Plot*)
  • Move the beats into Scrivener notecards so I always know what’s coming next
  • Start writing at the beginning and power through to the end
  • Let the manuscript rest while wandering aimlessly about the house
  • Think, “I should probably write another book”
  • Procrastinate on Kboards
  • Worry that Amazon is plotting ways to wring more money from indie authors (pro tip: they are. Quit worrying about it.)
  • After a month, re-read the old manuscript. Cringe in places. Nod along in others.
  • Extensive re-write.
  • Re-read again.
  • Tell husband that I’m going to trash the whole thing and go work for Amazon
  • Get talked off the ledge and spend some time moping – maybe take a nap.
  • Start work on another book
  • Send the previous book to editor and hope for the best

Unfortunately, as “writerly” as this process is, complete with despair and ennui, it’s not going to work anymore now that I want to treat this like a business.

I made it a goal in 2018 to write 1200 words a day, 365 days this year. When I sat down to update my personal writing tracker (pick yours here. I use Loki.) I did the math real quick (on a calculator because I am a writer and math makes my writing brain hurt) and realized that if I stuck to the goal that I would be producing 438,000 words this year.

Uhhhhh….. that’s a lot.

Like, that’s almost 4 Lindsay Buroker books. Or, if I’m closer to The Star of Time length, nearly 6 full-length books.

I quickly realized that just bumbling through 2018 wasn’t going to work.

In a delightful fit of kismet, I stumbled into a thread on Kboards (yeah, I was procrastinating, leave me alone!) started by Wayne Stinnett, a writer that I admire quite a bit for many reasons, but mostly because he’s super generous.

Anyway, as people were discussing writing 5,000 words a week someone linked to a blog post he did about his process and I clicked over because that many successful books can’t be an accident.

If you aren’t going to read it, and I think you should, I’ll wait …

It works like this:

Write to your daily word goal. For Wayne, that’s 1000 words. For me, 1200. Sometimes I go over and that’s okay.

He uses Word, so he creates a chapter heading with the word count and moves on with his day. I just write in one scene card in Scrivener then title the scene and add the date in the Notebook, like so:

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 8.42.28 AM

When I get ready to start the next day, I go back and read and edit the previous two days writing. Since doing this, I’ve fixed typos and generally added about 200 words to the daily count. I think the flow has improved and I find it’s easier to edit since I’m already neck deep in the story. It’s also easy to pick out little places where some more detail or finessing of the words is needed.

The goal here is to end with a fairly clean draft that won’t need the rest and re-read. This would significantly speed up my process and, taking that into account, along with my goal word count, I sat down and figured out that I could write and release potentially five books and a novella this year!

I also shamelessly copied Wayne’s production schedule. It was a huge find for me (and again, duh!) because even though I’ve read and heard writers talking about planning out releases for the coming year, I’ve never stumbled across it laid out in a way that clicks with my brain.

The x-factor here, of course, is can I get 1200 words a day? So far it hasn’t been hard. A challenge some days, finding a block of time to sit and write, but I can knock out 1200 words in an hour to an hour and a half. Several days I’ve topped 1500 words and have built up a little buffer for the inevitable sick day. I also planned in scheduled vacations and time off.

I am so grateful for writers like Wayne that put their process into detail and freely share it because it really helped me see more of the big picture for 2018.

I feel like I can relax a little and enjoy the journey because I have a map now – I know what I’m working on every day through October 5. I didn’t schedule anything after that in case I need to move or shift things around to accommodate a lightning strike idea. If I arrive in September and am on track I’ll probably figure out the rest of the year at that point and go ahead and plan 2019 as well.

I really hope that someday I can be as big a help to someone as Wayne has been for me.

*Again, an affiliate link. Thanks for the support, though.

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