Anxiety and Editing - Why to Schedule

I have Walk-In Wolf back from my lovely editor, Miss Maddie, and I have to say I'm excited to get going on it! This will be the fourth time that I've gone through the story, but I think it's coming along really well. I have a little more work to do on the characters and then I'm going to tear the story apart once more, haha.

Although anxiety overwhelms me at every step I'm taking, I know I'll get it done! I just need to get back to my schedule--which is what I'm going to talk about in this first blog post!

For me, scheduling is a must. If you're like me and get overwhelmed easily, scheduling will take back a little bit of your power and keep the world from crushing you down into a mess of a person. The trick is to stick with it. Treat it like a job. Make sure that you keep at it on a regular basis. You have to be your own boss, which sucks when you have to give yourself a talking to when you blow off work to go out on the town (or watch Netflix), but it's worth it. If you're a little more social, you might want to think about putting together a motivated writing group to make you sit down and write.

For me, I write after dinner on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and on Sunday mornings before I let the world attack me with its busy schedule. Beyond that, I did a tiny little bit of planning... I wrote up a battle plan that looks a little like this:

schedule.png

It's nothing really fancy, just a little something in Microsoft Excel (or you can use Google's free documents services). I spaced it up as this:

  • How many words have I written?
  • How many chapters / scenes do I need to edit?
  • How many words per chapter? (You can get this by getting the mean of how many words per chapter there are... didn't think you'd ever use your math, did you? Use the following equation: [Number of words written] / [Number of Chapters] = [Average amount of words per chapter] )
  • What is my deadline?
  • How many days a week will I be doing this?
  • How many editing days until my deadline?
  • How many words per day do I need to edit?
  • How many scenes a week do I need to complete?

It got me to do my last rewrite in a little under four months, which was a record for me. It got me to look at this huge project that I had ahead of me, break it down into digestible numbers so it wouldn't overwhelm me, and it actually made me finish my editing early. I can look at just under two chapters a week. That's no problem at all. That's a lot better than looking at the whole thing. 

Putting aside time (even just an hour or two a week) will help take away the stress surrounding it, and planning it out, if you're like me (an anxious ball of primordial ooze) will make sure you're able to succeed.

If you want a good book to read on the topic of breaking a big project into smaller projects, please check out Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. I'll push you towards page sixteen, a section called Short Assignments, and the concept of Bird by Bird, which Lamott's book was named for. The whole book is a great read, and I would recommend it to all of my writer friends, causal or no.

Take care, everyone! And happy writing!

 

-Ellie