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journal and latte

The first month of my 14-month short story collection plan is over. While I was at the informal writing business retreat last month, I created a timeline for the next short stories I plan to write. My working copy of the plan breaks down with weekly deadlines, but here’s a general overview:

  • September – Outlining
  • October – February – Write!
  • March – May – Critiques
  • June-August – Editor review and revise
  • September – onward – Query agents.

Last year I started outlining Magazine Queries That Worked over the summer, then wrote it on weekends from October-March. I realized this past summer that I could apply the same structure to my fiction writing. So I am!

A few things are helping me along:

Project management – I broke the monthly plan down into weekly production deadlines. This way I don’t feel overwhelmed by the size of this project. I simply look at what I’m doing this week. To help ease my writing flow as I move on to each story, I created a story table with separate columns for character, setting, plot, and themes/symbols. I find these help as quick triggers/reminders of what is intended in each story, and how all the stories connect as a whole.

Accountability – The writing business retreat I went on last month was great, and the writer-hostess has decided to offer them monthly! I just came back from my second retreat, and I’m already signed up for October’s. At these retreats we have morning and lunch check-in and goal setting sessions, then a debriefing at the end of the day to assess and direct our progress. I’m also regularly posting on social media about this planning and writing process. I feel accountable to the other retreaters and online communities as I move forward with each month in the plan. Since I’m sharing this plan here, I’m also feeling very accountable to you, dear readers!

Time management – I set the same reasonable (to me) time commitment that I did for my last book, about 4-5 hours per week of deep, focused writing. Before the week begins, I plot out where those chunks of writing time will be on my calendar, and where they will be physically. I pick if I’m at a coffee shop, writing with friends, library or solo at home. To boost productivity in my professional and personal life, I subscribed to Calendly and began meal planning with grocery pick-up service. I no longer need to send back-and-forth emails with clients and prospects to pick a time for a call, and the meal plans have made dinner prep simple and freed up mental energy. Let’s not forget I’m also on a creative writing submission strike, which saves plenty of time.

I have never been so excited and energized about any writing project as I am about this one. That energy in and of itself is enough to help me along, and I’ll share monthly re-caps as this process rolls forward!