I have a rigidly disciplined writing schedule. I make a not inconsequential amount of my income from preorders, and I try and make sure I have the next three books up for preorder at any given time to allow people to grab them. Two of those books are always planned, but not written—hence, rigid discipline is needed to get them out when I claim they will be out.
My spreadsheets rule my life. I have a defined amount of time to write and self-edit the book—49 days. A defined amount of time in between books as a grace period in case I need it—7 days. 42% of the 49 days are “creation” days, which means in a single week, I should create at least 3 chapters. Any less, and I’m behind.
Yes, there’s another spreadsheet for that, too.
Like I said. My life. Ruled by spreadsheets.
How It All Was
I’ve always wanted to get faster, but when I tried, the writing suffered quite a bit. This schedule (work 6 days a week with three writing and three editing days) seemed to produce the best outcomes for the book and (stress/healthwise) for me. There are clear indicators in these spreadsheets all over to make sure I’m on schedule—the percentage left to do should not exceed the time left to do it on the second sheet. The “time left for XX chapters” and “written as of today” better add up to at least 20. And so on.
As I mentioned before, my old method was: Dictate a full chapter, edit that chapter the following day, then dictate, then edit. I didn’t like stopping in the middle of a chapter, even if I was stuck. I don’t care whether I write 500 words an hour or 1500. My day’s job is getting that chapter written and done, or edited and done. If it took me an hour or six hours, that’s what it was going to take.
The dictating is…problematic. Did you know introverts can get depleted talking to thin air? Apparently, it is an actual thing. I can do it, the dictation, but I dislike it greatly. (Carpal tunnel and De Quervain’s tenosynovitis make long typing sessions extremely painful and potentially damaging, hence the dictation.) I’m also incredibly self-conscious about anyone hearing me, so my husband was not allowed to get out of bed/wake up until I was done.
We even have a multicolored nightlight. If it was red, he could go to the restroom but beyond that? Red meant everyone stayed quiet and stayed away.
How It Has Been With Sudowrite
So, I haven’t touched Dragon at all in the creation of Book 3. Not once. That’s been…pleasant. (My husband would also like me to mention the non-use of the nightlight has been nice.)
- Total and complete silence. No music, no background television, no talking, no nothing.
- To begin and end the chapter in the same session. Once I sit down to start, no one’s seeing me until I finish.
- The cat can sit on my head screeching, and I’m good.
- The starting and stopping to use Sudowrite breaks up a typing session, and it seems to be less stress on my hands. This is likely at least partially due to the sessions being shorter because…
- I don’t have to go all the way through the chapter anymore. I can do a scene, take a break, do a scene, take a break. At the moment, as I write this, I have two scenes for Chapter 4 done with the last to do, and those two were done yesterday. Yes, I actually slept without tossing and turning, haunted by the dangling and unfinished chapter.
By my own schedule, I should have 1 chapter done, with 19 writing days left. I have 3 done, and 1 more 2/3rds done. So, I’m 2.66 chapters ahead of where I need to be. I seem to be able to do a chapter a day, both writing and editing, once per day. I don’t need as much recovery time from the writing session when it’s broken up because the typing is not continuous, and there’s something about the introduction of sudowrite that’s changed the game.
What? What was it? Meh. Don’t know. Kinda shocked the hell out of me, to be honest.
But if I had to guess? I think there are a few reasons. One, I’m probably more comfortable writing than I used to be and I hadn’t realized I didn’t need as rigid an atmosphere as I gave myself to get it done—introducing sudowrite changed my method/process enough that I realized it. Two, I used to be the Director for a CS Department, and between corporate overlords bothering me, subordinates asking questions, customers having escalated complaints? I had to get used to writing and working when I might have to drop what I’m doing and pick it back up again. Using sudowrite taps into that old, rusty skill somehow, I suspect.
So, yeah, still happy with it. Of course, the potential to double my production? As an indie, that’s real money.
Of course, as of last week, I’m also fully immunized. So I could take those days ahead and go…somewhere. 😀