Last fall, before we got COVID and my brain turned to mush, I read a fun and handy guide by mystery writer Becky Clark called Eight Weeks to a Complete Novel: Writer Faster, Write Better, Be More Organized (March 2020), available in paperback and ebook. It’s half (or more) a guide to outlining and half (or less) a guide to time management for writers. The basic premise of the first half (ish) — and it’s one I’ve long endorsed — is that knowing the overall shape of the story you want to tell and identifying as much as you can about the key scenes will make the writing process smoother and faster.
I’ve met Becky several times and we’re Facebook friends. She’s hilarious, both in person and on the page. More than that, she’s a smart guide to working more efficiently, because it makes our books and lives better. I know some writers run screaming from the mere suggestion of outlining — when I hear some of the comments, I always wonder what happened to that budding author in the third grade. Becky discusses various options and approaches; it wasn’t all new info to me, but review is always useful.
One of the most useful aspects for me was the (re)encouragement to be very focused on the daily schedule, which for me means writing in the morning, set an hour or two aside in the afternoon for promotion. For me, the amount of time focused on promo depends on where I am in the process, but I really needed the push to set a block of time and not be so random. I also like her idea of “word banks,” consciously looking for and recording phrases and images that will fit your current project. (If this sounds like my “three things” idea, you get why it attracted me, though it’s a little different, and she’s so smart to suggest making it a daily practice.)
No, you can’t read this and automatically be smarter, funnier, and more efficient. You actually have to do the work. But if you do, voila! You might actually have time for the rest of your life. Pretty appealing when you think of it like that, right?
I have this book. Now I need to finish reading it. 🙂
LOL! Becky would say schedule a time. 🙂
LOL! My reputation precedes me! Thanks for the kind words about my book, Leslie. As the date suggests, it was a pandemic launch which means the book didn’t actually get launched at all, so any buzz I can get is very much appreciated. I would just like to correct one little mistake—you CAN read this and automatically be smarter, funnier, and more efficient. No, really! I swear …. just pick up a copy, read it, sleep with it under your pillow, tell 17 of your friends, and voila! You will be smarter, funnier, and more efficient. But if there’s a glitch somewhere, just pick up another copy, read that one, sleep with it under your pillow, and tell 17 different friends. Then it’s almost sure to work. But if it doesn’t, then go ahead and take Leslie’s suggestion of actually doing the work.
Unless, of course, like me, you read the book on Kindle. Sleeping with the Kindle underneath the pillow is not recommended.