Boot camp (major list alert)

P1030806Ever since the poet went off to Scotland to work, just over two weeks ago, this pile of work has been sitting on a table in the living room waiting for me to go through it.

The binder consists of several ebook and worksheet pdfs:

  • 5 in 10: Create Five Short Stories in Ten Weeks by Devon Ellington
  • How to Write Flash Fiction that Doesn’t Suck: Learn to tell a complete story in 500 words by Holly Lisle
  • worksheets for The Kaizen Plan for Organized Authors by Lynn Johnston
  • The Confident Freelancer by Lori Widmer and Devon Ellington
  • 7 Steps to Beating Page-One Rejections by Holly Lisle
  • Introduction to Plotting: Professional Plot Outline Mini-Course by Holly Lisle
  • 30 Tips for 30 Days: Kick Start Your Novel and Get Out of Your Own Way by Devon Ellington
  • worksheets for The 30 Day Novel Success Journal: Overcome Procrastination, Figure Out What Happens Next and Get Your Novel Written by Lynn Johnston (don’t ya just love those snappy titles?)
  • worksheets for The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing: A 16-step program guaranteed to take you from idea to completed manuscript by Evan Marshall
  • 2 more easy-way-to write books that may actually go straight in the recycle bin.

The pile also consists of 2 shorthand notebooks, 2 Pukka A5 notebooks, an A4 notebook and a pencil tin. I do love my pencil tins.

Aside from this pile, I also have books on the Kindle that I’m currently reading:

  • The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell
  • Writing Non-Fiction That Sells by Jackie Sherman
  • Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris

Now, as I said, this pile has been glaring at me from a coffee table in the living room for the best part of 3 weeks. And last night I finally settled down to sort it all out.

My notebooks usually consist of the following:

  • a shorthand notebook for ideas and outlines
  • a shorthand notebook for draft 1s
  • an A4 notebook for draft 2s

I also have a see-through brightly coloured polypropylene folder (see picture) containing several A4 see-through brightly coloured plastic wallets, each containing a draft 3 awaiting proofing.

After last night I now have:

  • 1 Pukka A5 notebook for ideas, notes, exercises, market information, WIP schedule
  • 1 Pukka A5 notebook for outlines
  • 1 shorthand notebook for draft 1s
  • 1 A4 notebook for draft 2s
  • 1 bright pink see-through polypropylene folder containing several bright yellow A4 see-through plastic wallets

Welcome to my own personal writer’s boot camp.

After last night, the main binder has gone back onto the bookshelf. When I’ve caught up with all the stuff I’ve already started, it’ll come back down again and I’ll go back to the beginning. Meanwhile, though …

I sorted through all of my notebooks filled with outlines and 1st drafts, discarded a few that really aren’t working, and came up with a brand new WIP schedule.

I shared a copy of my WIP schedule with blog readers before, and a few went slightly green at the gills at the thought of it, and at the seeming rigidity of it all. This WIP schedule is, in fact, written in pencil, which means it can be rubbed out if it isn’t working or if something comes in that’s more important. The order isn’t cast in stone either. If I need to get a January-related story to a short story market in the next few days, for example, then that comes to the top of the priority list.

Here’s what the first page of that WIP schedule now looks like, showing one project from start to finish:

O The Complete Angler SS

#1 Peters and Lee F

#2 Breaking the Ice SS (the 1st Stevie Tarot tale)

#3 My Operation RTE

E My 1970s Holiday Memories RTE

O Aren’t Men Daft RL

#1 The Complete Angler SS

#2 Peters and Lee F

#3 Breaking the Ice SS

E My Operation RTE

O Don’t Break a Leg SS

#1 Aren’t Men Daft RL

#2 The Complete Angler SS

 #3 Peters and Lee F

E Breaking the Ice SS

O Dancing on Ice SS

#1 Don’t Break a Leg SS

#2 Aren’t Men Daft RL

#3 The Complete Angler SS

E Peters and Lee F

O Shaking the Tree SS (a sequel to The Spirit of the Wind)

#1 Dancing on Ice SS

#2 Don’t Break a Leg SS

#3 Aren’t Men Daft RL

E The Complete Angler SS

(KEY: O = Outline; #1 = draft 1; #2 = draft 2; #3 = draft 3; E = Edit; SS = Short Story; F = Filler; RL = Reader’s Letter; RTE = Reader’s True Experience; WIP = Work In Progress)

I tick them off, or colour them with colour-coded highlighter pens, as I do them. Many of these projects were started off during my Camp NaNo in July.

For those of you still with us, this is how it always used to work before when I was prolific. I like the variety of working on something fresh, and I like to leave something bubbling away in the background while I work on something else. For me, the hardest parts are the outline stage and first draft. The rest comes really easy to me.

Aside from this short writing WIP, I also edit and proofread books and novels for clients. This is my bread-and-butter work, or what I now call the day job. I also have a couple of books of my own on the go.

Using this system for the short writing WIP means that once the 4th drafts have gone off on their merry ways, I have so many projects “out there” and so many more “in production” that a single rejection, or even a few at once, doesn’t faze me.

If I don’t have any editing or proofreading in, at least I still have plenty of other work to be getting on with. I just need much of it to be “out there” earning its keep.

Bag 2If I’m out fishing with the poet, the current WIP goes into a writing bag. Here’s one I prepared earlier, which includes an old diary and a purple polypropylene see-through folder that contains a novel, Catch the Rainbow I think is in this one. (I do love my polypropylene folders …)

Regular readers will have seen this picture before. It’s a different pencil tin (I do love my pencil tins …), and the black conference folder usually holds editing or proofreading.

So, with such a big to-do list just for the short writing WIP, I’d best crack on.

How do you work?

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