Right now, the process of writing a book is killing me. Through an accident of fate, I’ve had only a few months to outline and write a 90,000-word book.
To add to the challenge, the finished project has to be clean, needing no major editorial changes, so it can quickly move into copy editing and production.
Step 1: Freak out.
Step 2: Write a detailed outline and get my editor to sign off on it. Normally, I would use a much rougher outline or no outline at all. But I knew the only way I could build the book so quickly would be to follow a blue print. While in some ways, creating the blueprint took precious time, I knew that in the long run it would save me time. And by having my editor sign off on it, I hope to avoid any extensive rewrites. The downside is that you don't leave the door open (or as open) to brilliant new twists.
Step 3: Begin work. Each day, I have had goals to meet, but those goals have taken different forms.
- At first, my goal was a number of hours to spend each day. Because I had to do a lot of research to create my outline, and a lot of re-ordering as I added new information, I knew I might not have very many net words to show for it at the end of the day.
- After I had a detailed outline, I switched to word count goals for every week. If I got stuck on one chapter, I allowed myself to jump forward and work on later chapters - just as long as the manuscript as a whole grew by the number of words I had set myself.
- Chapter goals. Now that I am so close to the finish line, I’ve divvied up the last few chapters and given myself one, two, or three days to finish each one. Some chapters only take a day because I already wrote big chunks when I skipped forward. Some chapters are taking thee days because they need to pull together many threads and answer questions that have accumulated along the way.
My plan calls for me to have two weeks of editing, which isn’t a lot. I know that I’ll:
- Read it once on screen.
- Read the whole book aloud.
- Print it out as manuscript pages and proof.
- Print it out so that it looks like a book and proof.
What kind of goals do you set? Do you have any tips for writing tightly and quickly? Or editing quickly when you don’t have the luxury of setting aside the manuscript for a month or more?