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Transparency: The New Black?

Okay, so that writing-in-public thing didn’t go so well. It wasn’t all that bad, really, from my perspective: although I’m not achieving anything close to the sort of word count I’d like, that novel is nevertheless moving along faster than any other to date. Not that I’m in a mood to prove it to you. So there.

What happened is this: on the second day, I didn’t write anything, so I didn’t post anything. On the third day, I did write…but I also decided that this entire novel should probably be written in present tense. So I “fixed” that. Then life got in the way, and I stopped writing much at all. Then I got going again, which is always more difficult than it seems it should be. And here we are.

So–as far as posting new fiction hot off the keyboard (to the extent I’ve been using the keyboard, which ain’t a lot), plus leaving things in place and not editing too much, so you guys could follow along–yeah, not so much the way it went. Plus some plot/character points arose later that required more revision, and I’m pretty sure you can see where this is going. It’s going dark, is where it’s going, and you can’t (yet) see what I’ve been up to. Sorry.

Nonetheless I want to do something at least vaguely in line with my goals of transparency/accountability and ramping up production. I’ve been working a lot on increasing my words-per-hour count, and also on setting/maintaining a regular schedule for myself. I’ll say a lot more about that later on, assuming I can keep up with this project, but for now I just want to let you guys know that my goal is to write a blog post per day about what’s going on with the writing. I’m sure a bit of personal stuff will get in there too, since that tends to have an impact on productivity. I’ll be tracking some things here as well, and see what I can learn as I go along.

Here’s what my “schedule” looks like so far:

4:30 AM Wake up and shower.
4:50 AM Dictate new fiction. Weather permitting, do it outside.
6:15 AM On weekdays, start the process of waking kids up and getting them to school. On weekends, be back inside so my wife can leave for work. Write a blog post once inside, ideally while kids are groaning and complaining. The rest of this applies to weekdays only.
8:00 AM Aim to begin a new dictation session. If that’s not feasible for some reason, check out the transcribed versions of whatever I’ve dictated lately, figure out what needs to happen next, and get in another dictation session as soon as I can. Again check out transcribed material, do any editing I feel is necessary, think about story/continuity issues, and get things in shape for the next morning’s dictation session (and, if a weekend is coming up, maybe prepare a bit for the next couple of days as well). Repeat any bits of this I can, when it makes sense to do that, until I run out of time. Take any breaks that seem necessary to deal with the publishing side of things…covers, advertising/promotion, webinars, answering email, or whatever. But mostly, aim for at least two dictation sessions of roughly 45-60 minutes each on weekdays.

After that things get messy. Well, messier. Some days I have to be doing something else instead, or I need to be elsewhere entirely, rather than putting in the writing time (this means both “we have kids” and also that my wife has a business of her own, with which I assist as needed). I might be able to keep going till noon, though. Other days it might be 2:45 PM or even later.

Some days will be interrupted throughout by crises both real and imagined. Often not imagined by me, you know? Doesn’t mean I can (always) blow them off entirely. Though that is of course both a goal and a simple joy in this life. The inner peace that comes from utterly ignoring other people’s irrational demands should never be underestimated. Ignoring rational demands is of course even better. Says me. But both help me get work done, so I’m calling ’em a win for other reasons. Too.

Worse yet, if this already seems crazy-flaky to you (it does to me), I’m not even going to try to get in more than one dictation session per day for a while. I have a cookbook to edit. I also need to do e-book and print design/layout for it. I’m behind schedule on that.

Another thing. Generally I aim to be in bed by 8:15 PM, and to read some fiction prior to falling asleep. This doesn’t always work out. But that’s also semi-scheduled, and the kids are reasonably well adjusted to it. Meaning the younger ones are mostly in bed around then too, and the older one is a mostly-quiet kind of guy anyway. Mostly mostly mostly. Life happens, around here.

There are a couple of things it might be worthwhile to explain here:

  • First-draft stuff is dictation only. It’s also via transcription only, meaning I don’t have a screen to look at. This seems to help quite a bit.
  • I’m using my phone to record the dictation sessions. They get auto-uploaded to Dropbox. Then they get synced to a folder on my laptop, and Dragon NaturallySpeaking auto-transcribes them. It also moves the original audio file, and another file I need if I need to fix issues arising with Dragon’s transcription, to another location on my hard drive. Then the transcription itself is uploaded to Dropbox, and becomes available on my phone within a few minutes.
  • I’m not a big fan of sloppy first drafts. So I intend to edit each day as I go along, on those days when this makes sense (meaning maybe not weekends, when I have the kids by myself for most of the day, to start). Which editing can actually be done on my phone if necessary, but I’m guessing I’ll use the laptop most of the time.

I have some goals relating to all this. Word counts, publication dates, novels I’d like to complete, and so forth. It would all sound fairly ridiculous at this point, so let me just reiterate this one: I intend to do a blog post every morning, describing the previous day’s work. Let’s see how it goes. (And yes, I dictated this post. I intend to do that for all of them.)

Have fun out there!

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