Get me out of this Development Hell!

Check out that chart over there. What? You can’t read it? Okay, click on it. That should help.

My Writing Schedule - April 2013 - September 2015 (Yes, you read that right!)
My Writing Schedule – April 2013 – September 2015 (Yes, you read that right!)

This is my writing schedule. I created it last month. You see, I have a tendency to write books straight into development hell. I’ll write 50,000 words (200 pages) of a novel. Then I’ll conclude I made some crucial error. I’ll start to rewrite. I’ll add new chapters and eliminate old ones. Ill get maybe 30,000 words into a second draft before I realize I made another set of crucial errors. So, I’ll rewrite again. And again. And then again.

The result is an incoherent mess, filled with various parts from various drafts. Eventually, I give up and move onto another story. And then I go through the same process all over again. I think it happens because: a) I’m a perfectionist and fiction, by definition, will always be imperfect; and b) I tend to rush into stories before I’ve really had proper time to brainstorm them.

I’m determined to break the cycle. So, I created a schedule for my next four books and set some rules for myself. I’ve also started to storyboard future novels (that’s the reason I’ve got four books on the schedule). The basic idea is to extend the creation period as well as separate creation from editing. If I do it right, I think I can write a novel every eight months. That’s two months apiece for brainstorming, writing, editing, and publishing.

  • Brainstorming: Far too often I rush into a story only to find I don’t like where it’s going. The characters seem thin, the story feels off. So, I want to lengthen my pre-writing creation process.
  • Writing: I write 2,000 words per weekday and 1,000 words per weekend day. So, 12,000 words per week. That means I can write about 100,000 words (400 pages) over a two month period (I consider 75-90,000 words to be my sweet spot).
  • Editing: I’m going to need two months to edit my current novel. But going forward, I’d like to reduce that time and instead, place more trust in my creative work.
  • Publishing: This is all the other things that go into publishing a book…soliciting suggestions from outside readers, formatting the book, and creating a cover.

So, where do we stand? I started my current book, tentatively titled Ice Storm, back in December 2012. After spinning it off into development hell, I resurrected it. Basically, I took pieces from seven (!) different drafts and shoved them together. I finished this on May 16. For the sake of simplicity, I’m considering this to be my first draft.

It’s not very good. In fact, it’s exactly what you’d expect from shoving seven different drafts together. But it has tons of potential. Over the last few weeks, I’ve developed a plan to realize this potential. It’s going to take some work. Generally speaking, the first 15,000 words are almost perfect. Another 15,000 words will have to be replaced completely. The remaining 55,000 words will require reshuffling and minor to major editing.

I started editing on May 18 at a rate of 18,000 words per week. It’s slower than I’d prefer. But like I said, Ice Storm needs a lot of work. I got to 9,000 words yesterday. If all goes well, I should be able to finish this draft by the end of June. I’ll spend July tightening it up. I’d like to give it to my first reader (Hi Julie!) by August. I plan to publish it by the end of September.

Either Ice Storm will turn into a spectacular book or it’ll become a train wreck of epic proportions. Regardless, you’ve got a front-row seat to watch it all go down. So, stick around. It’s going to be one hell of a ride!