Writing Plan for the Week

No server access? Get out the Underwood!

Not having a plan is like not having server access. You get nowhere!

According to my business card, I am a writer. So what should I be doing tonight? Well, it’s Sunday night, the wind from Hurricane Joaquin has barely touched us, and the rain has slowed to a fine mist. It has not been the best beach day but at least we in Seaview have not been tormented by flooding problems. Other parts of the East coast? Not so fortunate.

Aside from the three church services this morning, and the potluck lunch, and the trip to the Brown Dog Ice Cream Store in Cape Charles, and a nap, and a fine dinner of grilled cheese sammiches, what else should I be doing? Lucy Silag of Penguin’s Book Country published a blurb about treating your writing career like a start-up, akin to business management for writers. I’m not sure she had these line items in mind:

Watch latest episode of Dr. Who? Check.

Make a fresh pot of coffee and have a cup? Check and check.

Post the recipe from the potluck? Check it out here.

Plan the writing for the week?

[insert cricket noises here]

Shazbot – I knew I had something else to do. Let’s try this and see what happens:

Monday – AM: revise query letter.  PM: read Matterhorn, written by Karl Marlantes.

Tuesday – AM: check QueryTracker for agents accepting culinary mysteries. Or mysteries. Or anything.  PM: Keep reading Matterhorn.

Wednesday – AM: Twitter-stalk agents and see what they like (and don’t like) in a query. PM: Keep reading Matterhorn and take mental break – yoga class.

Thursday – AM: Make decisions on agent queries. Customize and send. PM: no spare time.

Friday – AM: Research publishing through Booktrope and Book Country. PM: Keep reading Matterhorn.

Saturday – AM: Try to finish Matterhorn. PM: Read out loud the first few chapters of The Milk Chocolate Murders (to get back into that frame of mind.)

Sunday – evaluate the plan and make a new one.

There you go. That should keep me busy for a while. Will this work? Maybe. Will I follow the plan? Perhaps. Is it better to have a plan than not have a plan? Definitely.

Do you have a plan?

If so, please do share. And I’ll make you a deal. You give a short synopsis (is that redundant?) in the comments and I’ll follow up next week with how my plan went. I’ll even ask you how your plan went. We could call it…writers supporting writers! Has a good ring to it. Hey, it has worked with the Book Country Buddy Program. It could work here, too!

Looking forward to your thoughts!






Nanowrimo? But it’s not even June yet?

No server access? Get out the Underwood!

Gad-zooks! We are about five months away from the next coffee-fueled, donuts-for-dinner literary slog known as Nanowrimo!

For those wondering, this is the annual “contest” where you pledge to scribe a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. This breaks down to writing 1,666.66 words per day, every day. Easy for some; seemingly impossible for others.

And for those who make it all the way? They are “winners” and get a cool icon for their website, discounts on tools and services for writers, and most importantly, they get bragging rights. I mean, really, how many people have you met that can say they have written a novel in one month? Not many, I am guessing.

Those who finish also gain invaluable perspective. They now understand what it means to write on a deadline. They know the sacrifices professional writers make on a daily basis. Those who finish also learn about their own writing skill, or lack thereof. I have participated in quite a few Nanowrimo events and have learned I can write thrillers with both military and paranormal themes, as well as mysteries. But after three or four Nano’s, I find mysteries written in first person to be the most natural voice for me.

In one sentence: You learn more about yourself as a writer. And that is probably the best takeaway from Nanowrimo. And it’s free.

So, to help those of you who either struggled to make the 50,000 word goal, didn’t make the goal, or decided you could never do it and thusly did not enter, I will use the month of June to share my own system of preparation for Nanowrimo. Just think, after this series ends, you still have four months to do the legwork before you have to type “It was a dark and stormy night…”

My Goal: Help you, the Nanowrimo warrior, finish with a coherent and complete first draft of your next best-selling novel.

How? I’ll post ten, count ‘em, ten easy-to-read steps that might just prepare you to take up the Nano challenge.

Why now? Nanowrimo takes the entire month of November. And trust me, it takes the entire month for most of us. That leaves eleven months with nothing to do, right?


I started my novel, The Apple Pie Alibi, during Nanowrimo 2013 and here it is, six months later and I have just revised it well enough to send it to a publisher for consideration. You think writing your novel in one month is hard? Think of the poor publishers and agents who receive thousands (literally) of unpolished first drafts during the month of December.

The more work you do now, the better the first draft will be on November 30th. And consequently, the less work you will need to do in December forward. Publishers and agents everywhere will thank you.

Next up: Finding time for your writing. It can be done!

The P.O.D. (aka the daily writing plan)

photo(7)Those of you who have a military background will recognize the acronym POD. The infamous Plan Of the Day. For many people, the POD never really changed that much, to the point it was often changed to Plan of the Week. However, I was in a military band. Our plan changed daily, sometimes hourly. Then there were times the plan changed on short notice.

Ask anyone who has served in a military band about waiting for the plan of the day and they will shrug their shoulders in a fatalistic “what-can-you-do?” manner. We could never leave at the end of the day – until the plan of the day had not only been formulated, but typed, reviewed by at least three people, signed, and then given back to the platoon sergeant who had to read it to the platoon. It was always the classic hurry up and wait scenario. The process could, and often did, take hours. I dealt with this for over 20 years and made only slight progress on this daily SNAFU once I was “the Top.” Doesn’t speak well for me, does it?

But now I am retired (from that line of work at least) and have more control of my schedule. Thus I present to you my writer’s POD, a set of daily goals for my writing. I am not suggesting you use it yourself, but maybe it will spur some thought for how you can produce more. Maybe you have a better way? Please share!

Monday – AM: novel edits, drink coffee.   PM: read Six Years (H. Coben) while on the stationary bike.

Tuesday – AM: novel edits, drink coffee.  PM: read and pedal; research for cooking blog.

Wednesday – AM: novel edits, drink coffee.  PM: physical therapy; check blogs I follow.

Thursday – AM: novel edits, drink coffee.  PM: visit our kids; don’t turn on computer.

Friday – AM: novel edits, drink coffee.  PM: read and pedal; research for writing blog.

Saturday – AM: haircut, novel edits, drink coffee. PM: post to writing and cooking blogs; read and pedal.

Sunday – AM: church times 3. PM: nap; check blogs I follow. Look for new ones. Drink coffee.

That should about do it. I’ll report back next Saturday and let you know how it went.

Semper Scribilus – DJ sends.