On this day of hope, I like to plan my writing agenda for the coming year.
January is prime writing time. The weather discourages me from going out, and the lack of distractions encourages creativity. I also sleep better snuggled under layers of covers. Tomorrow I stop thinking about the second book in my new mystery series at random moments and start serious work on it. The book, which takes place at a storytelling festival, will consume much of my work time the rest of the year.
By the end of February, I expect to have completed a solid draft of the first seven or eight chapters, the most difficult part of the book. At that point in the manuscript I can automatically visualize the settings in which my new characters interact and understand the difficulties (personal and investigatory) my ongoing characters must deal with.
Taxes and cabin fever interrupt the workflow a bit in March. That’s also a time in the manuscript when I’m questioning my pacing and worrying about too much dialogue and not enough action.
In April I’ll be dealing with the doubts of March, updating my narrative to reflect the unexpected development of minor characters or the appearance of unanticipated clues. Novels, like life, rarely go as planned.
Conferences, holidays, and spring pull me from the computer in April and May. In 2018, May is likely to be one of my least productive months. I’ve planned a mental vacation, in this case preparing a talk on how Jane Austen reveals her protagonists’ characters. I’ll enjoy the research and analysis, but both will require considerable time and concentration.
An advantage of this diversion is that I’ll come back to my manuscript, which should be about two-thirds of the way done (in first draft), in June with a fresh eye.
In July, I hope to approach that final push. That’s when the writing goes fast.
If all goes well, in August I’ll complete draft one and do cleanup work, making sure the clues fall in the right place, characters act consistently, any factual holes are filled, and weak words become strong.
My critique group will be giving me feedback as I proceed, but in September I’ll ask the members for an overview and send the draft to two or three other readers. Then I’ll play a little while, and perhaps work on a short story/novella with the characters from my Show Me series.
October will be my month to take care of the problems my readers note and, finally, to read the manuscript aloud and give it the final polish.
In November I should have the manuscript ready to go. That leaves December to finish some of the things I’ve neglected the rest of the year.
Will my year really go this way? I’ll let you know in 2019.