Wow! I can’t believe February is over! It’s been a super busy month here at this crazy writer’s hacienda. At the top of that craziness was me developing a book production schedule, lighting a fire under getting Whiskey’s book written, mastering Scrivener, and laying out my plot doctrine in Scrivener to help speed up my fast draft process.
I know, none of that—except getting Whiskey’s book done—looks super exciting, but for me it’s a necessity.
See, at heart and by education and trade, I’m a scientist. I love data and thinking about data to analyze it to improve productivity and efficiency. That probably sounds extremely boring, but exercising my inner geek that way is what gets my creativity rocking and rolling. Because it’s all about solving problems and mapping a path to my highest good that enables me to achieve my goals. And because I’m a fan of making SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely) goals that means I make to-do lists. Lots and LOTS of to-do lists. Reason for that is because I literally need the RAM in my brain cleared (by brain dumping items onto the to-do lists) so I can forget about the things nagging me and focus on what’s important—like writing Whiskey’s book.
And now that you know way more about me and the way I think than you have EVER wanted to know, it’s time to get down to business and report out on my progress to date.
#1: See Claire Jane Mucking With Scrivener
If I haven’t mentioned it before, I hear voices in my head. Um, no, not like those kind of voices. I think. Well, maybe. Kind of. But not really. I think. Oh dear lord, I could on for days trying to talk my way out of that rabbit hole of crazy, but anyway… I hear voices in my head that sometimes sound a lot like my inner voice that nags and reminds me to do things. Sometimes—more times than I should probably admit—that voice sounds like a Hollywood version of a guardian angel. A really persistent, demanding, I’m-gonna-bring-down-hellfire-and-eternal-damnation-on-you-if-you-don’t… clean the litter box.
Or take out the trash.
Or set the alarm clock.
Or… master Scrivener.
Not gonna lie here. I really tried to avoid the whole Scrivener thing. Actually succeeded fairly well at it—until Tango’s book was done and released. Then the naggy chants in my head just would. Not. Stop.
So I caved, checked it out, and… promptly closed it. It hurt my brain.
Then the peeps in my head started chanting again and my inbox got flooded with other writers talking about the awesome, wonderful qualities of this torturous, busy, it makes my mind melt… software. My resolve was tested—seriously tested—but I caved after about eighteen hours (because been there,done that, and insanity is highly overrated) and dedicated some serious time to learning the software and writing in it.
It’s not too bad. Scrivener does help me organize my scribbled notes and I’m getting the hang of it. I’m probably not using half its functionality, but I did use it to plot out a brand spankin’ new shifter series (6 books total) in less than 3 days time. They’re shorter than any of the PSST books I’m working on and are going on the back burner until sometime later when I need a PSST break.
In the process of nailing those plots down, I also made some templates that are geared toward helping me keep track of this massive—yet so simple—world I created in PSST. Which leads me to my next item…
#2: See Claire Jane lay down her Plot Doctrine
Okay, so you’re not actually seeing me lay it down, but it’s laid. (So not gonna touch that last phrase even though the peeps in my head are running with commentary on it… so anyway… deep breath and a LOL because I just got off a double shift at the dayjob and the filter is gone, gone, gone.)
My plot doctrine is something I’ve been working on building and compiling for the last… what year is this? 2017? Okay, so I’ve been working on it since the late 90s or about 20 years. Why so long? Well, because I’m left brained and dense. My brain couldn’t comprehend plot and structure when described in books and workshops because… can’t believe I’m going to say this… because the experts on the subject… threw too many words at the concept.
This isn’t a slight against any of those wonderful people, it’s simply an admission on my part that I like to keep things simple. That I walk before I can run. That I crawl before I can walk. In terms of writing, what that means is that I have literally spent years writing copious stories—many of which were solely for my enjoyment, education, et cetera and will never be published—because they were exercises for my mind to understand structure and to develop my voice.
Along with that, I filled numerous journals to document my journey through this life of mine to study how this system of life works in its ebbs and flows. All of that combined, finally clicked into place for me in 2016 so I could put my head down and write Tango.
If I haven’t said it before, let me do so now… Tango’s book wasn’t an easy story to write.
It was hard not from the emotional perspective, but from a plot perspective because there was literally so much I had to establish in the world first before I could roll out the rest of the books. But now that it’s published and done, I’m all about getting back to the “head down and write” position.
To get to that state, I literally had to stop for an afternoon and download my system from my head onto paper, so I could free up desperately needed RAM in my mind. Super glad I did this, because earlier this month I was able to take my scribbled notes for Whiskey’s book plot and lay it out with some Action-Reaction-Consequence footwork and… found three holes in my original plot.
Since then, I’ve corrected and adjusted for those holes (because–seriously–having plot holes that require the hand of God (or author, in this case) to fix on the fly with red herring slaps to the cheeks of readers is just plain mean). The fixes also laid out the logical progression for what comes after Whiskey. Which freaking ROCKS! And leads me to the next thing on the progress report out list…
#3: See Claire Jane crack a whip and develop a book production schedule
It isn’t easy being self published.
Correction: It’s easy to self publish, but what isn’t easy is being successful at it and making a financial living that can support a family off it.
I have a dayjob that pays well. The hours are rough and at time more chaotic than I can handle, but the pay is makes it worth it. For now. Because I’m emotionally ready to not work for the man and more than ready to don my fuzzy (crazy cat lady) socks to be a full time writer. But physically and in reality… like I said before, I have to… crawl before I walk, then walk before I run.
In terms of being an independent self published author that means… inventory.
Not just having the inventory, but having it up and published in the marketplace so readers can get to it.
To get to that glutton of inventory place, I have to have a schedule and a routine and goals and a plan to get there.
In 2016, I did a lot of development work on my writing focus and time. Then analyzed my metrics so I could see my progress and rates of production. In various forms. Whether it’s hand writing, or straight typing, or plotting or… you name it, I looked at it. Why? Because I have limited time during each day to write (about 2-3 hours each weekday) and need to work smarter not harder while still producing material that works—or that I can work with.
That data along with my plot doctrine enabled me to see that I really could set a book production schedule that pushes me to aim for the stars while keeping me grounded in reality. Honestly, after putting the schedule together, I was promptly shocked stupid to see how it was possible—if I were uber organized—to produce six new books in this series before the end of the year.
Do I really think I could get 6 books published in 2017?
Oh, it’s possible. Anything is possible. Especially knowing what I know about me and what I’m capable of. But there are always potential challenges and obstacles. Time is my biggest one. Daily schedule and having a set routine (lord, yes, I would kill to have that) is my next biggest challenge.
2017 started off rocky with the time thing. It’s still rocky. Heck, 2016 ended even rockier and resulted in me having to carry over vacation days to this year that I have to figure out how to use in March or lose them.
I’m not losing them. No way am I losing those vacation days. I don’t care what I have to do or how long I have to keep my phone turned off and buried in the dirty clothes pile, I am taking those days, planning something fun to do with the kid, then enjoying the hell out of my nights and writing these books.
Because I’ve just finished laying out the back end of Whiskey’s book. It’s intense. Quick paced and… did I mention that it’s intense? Whiskey is nothing like Tango. Whiskey—or Carter as I now think of him—is a force to be reckoned with and just as alpha—more so, if you ask my opinion—as Tango. But he’s different. And deliciously darker. And a talker.
Whew, mama, is he a talker.
Damned man kicked me right on out of writing a scene with his talking during a, um, *gulp*, certain scene—if ya know what I mean. I got so kicked out of that scene that it took me a few minutes to realize that I was just sitting there staring at the screen listening to him describe… something he intended to have and… it. Was. Good.
Only thing better than me listening to that scene was when it hit me that I was gonna get to relive it again to type it. And now y’all know why I really, really, REALLY love being a writer.
And that, my dear friends, wraps up February’s monthly progress update post!
Tomorrow starts a brand new month and a brand new set of goals and accomplishments. I can’t wait! I’m loving writing this series and can’t wait to share the next set of books with you. So on that note, I’m off to grab some shut eye and get through my week with some head down and words on the page.
Until next time… take care and happy reading!
~Claire Jane (and her rambling thoughts)—out.