It’s still early and I haven’t started on my draft for the day so this isn’t going to be an accounting of today’s writing. Instead, I thought I’d tell you a bit about my process for getting ready to write and staying on track.
I never used to have a process. I didn’t find it necessary during NaNoWriMo because the time involved was so short. I can do anything for a small about of time. It’s keeping it up over an extended period that I have difficulty with. I figured, if I was going to make this 85k90 thing work, I’d need to develop a system that had as few pain points as possible. Something simple that I didn’t hate and that I actually might like.
I love planners. The weight of them in my hand, the smell of the leather and the paper, finding just the right pen to make up a set. I also find them utterly useless for keeping track of things. I live in a digital world. I need my planner to be digital too and so I started looking for an app that gave me the same sorts of features I’d find in a planner without too much else going on so that it wouldn’t be overwhelming and become a chore.
After a few failed experiments, I landed on Planner Pro and have been very happy with it.
If you love physical planners, you’ll find the layout of Planner Pro familiar. It has both iOS and desktop versions so I bought them both. I like being able to access my planner on any device I happen to be using but, if I had to choose only one, the iPad version seems to be the best fit for the software. It feels like it belongs there. There are daily, weekly, and monthly views plus tabs for your collection of tasks and notes. While the weekly view can be quite useful, spend nearly all of my time on the daily view.
To make this app useful for 85k90, I’ve eliminated all calendars but the one I’ve set up for the project. I’ve created a list of tasks that I’d like to accomplish each day and repeat daily so that each morning I open Planner Pro, I have a fresh checklist to go through.
The first thing I take care of is One Hour of Reading. I do this with my morning coffee/breakfast and try not to rush through. I try to read novels from writers who’s work I admire and books that I see as similar to what I’m currently writing. I set a timer on my device and, when the timer goes off, I put the book away and check that item off of my list.
The next task is journaling – something I’ve found to be invaluable for thinking about what I’ve written the day before and what I’d like to write today. I write my journal entries directly into the Planner as daily notes. Once I’ve used it to figure out what I’ll be doing, I can check journal writing off of the list and and I’m ready to start in on my novel.
I use Scrivener to do my writing, sometimes on my desktop and sometimes on my iPad using the excellent mobile version. I like to change it up so I don’t feel held captive by my desk. When I reach my predetermined goal for the day’s words, I stop and check it off of the list. I might go back later and add more if I come up with an idea that I feel I need to get down right away but, for the most part, I’m trying to keep it slow and steady so that I can really ruminate on what I’ve written and where my characters are heading. This also keeps me eager to start up again the next day because I haven’t burned myself out the day before.
In the evening, (today being an exception) I will do a blog post. I’m trying to use the blog to keep me accountable to others. So far, the blog posts have been the hardest to get through and feel forced. That’s why I’ve changed it up today and decided to blog about something other than my word count which, let’s face it, just gets boring for both you and me.
Planner Pro has a subscription model but it’s not onerous like so many are – something like $5 per year Canadian. That’s peanuts for how valuable it’s been to me so far. I’m not affiliated with the company or the creator in any way and you might find other ways to mark out your days that work for you (I’d be interested to hear about them!).
How to you organize your writing life to keep you going through a long haul?