At this point in time there are a lot of ifs as to what you have or haven’t achieved during your Year of Writing. I can’t say that I believe you have done everything asked of you, but the important part is whether or not you still plan on doing it. Behind? Doesn’t matter. It’s not like the experience and material has a sell-by date. Unless your novel is topical, I guess, but even then, wait ten years and it will be “historical.”
The next stretch is straightforward and doesn’t require a lot of thought, just conviction.
Day 1. Write for four 15-minute intervals.
Day 2. Write for four 15-minute intervals.
Day 3. Edit 10 pages of second book.
Day 4. Write for four 15-minute intervals.
Day 5. Write for four 15-minute intervals.
Day 6. Write for four 15-minute intervals.
Day 7. Edit 31-60 pages of first book, using friend’s notes.
Day 8. Write until you’ve hit 90,000 words!
At this point we should be done with book two. Of course you may not be, if your book is a little longer than average, (and I see it as likely it is), but no fret, the end is near!
Edit 20 pages of the second book, because we need to get caught up.
Day 9. Edit 61-90 pages of first book, using friend’s notes.
Day 10. Edit 91-120 pages of first book.
Day 11. Edit 121-150 pages of first book.
Day 12. Write a short story.
Take a break from all the projects and editing to write something you care about.
Day 13. Edit last pages of first book.
Now that you’ve tried to implement your friend’s advice, you should start feel pretty solid about what you’ve written. At this point, when someone asks you if you like your work, you should be able to say, “Hell yes!” without hesitation. If this is not the case, you may want to consider another edit.
Day 14. Edit 30 pages of second book.
Because of the tactics we used for this second book, we do not, as of yet, have a second draft. Get a move on and get it done.
Day 15. Edit 30 pages of second book.
Day 16. Finish up edits on second book.
Day 17. Give out FIRST book to three different readers.
Using the best tricks you have up your sleeve, it’s time to get a lot of feedback on the story. Again, give them a month to read it. You might consider giving it to as many people as possible because feedback is the best way to understand how an outsider perceives you and your work. Always keep in mind your priority is success; don’t care what they think until it is helpful to you.
Day 18. Time to sit back and look at the big picture.
It’s about time to question where your career is going. At month ten, we could blitz out another book at about 80,000 words before the year is up. But considering the current pace we are going, it might be time to consider a break from novel writing.
Let’s start focusing on building parts of the career that have nothing to do with the artistic aspects.
Write down a list of what you think a great author needs and how he should behave. Include things like “A great book,” but also consider the more superficial aspects. How does he dress for success? What does that look like? What does he need to do to convince people to listen to him? If you could be the most impressive author in the world, what would you want to look like and be able to brag about?
Day 19. Start a website.
Websites are fairly inexpensive. The domain name (your url) costs about $10.00 a year. It’s the hosting site that will get you, which can range from $6 to $10 dollars a month. This site, (GoDaddy.com, HostMonster.com WordPress.com) is what you use to upload files to the internet for everyone to see.
It is acceptable to have a free site like blogger, especially if you don’t know how to make a website, however, I recommend forking over the money for something more professional. In any case, you might want to purchase the domain name of your name no matter what because you very well might find out that by the time you need it, someone else has already taken it.
If you have absolutely no web skills at all, no fear! You can certainly pay someone to design it, however, sites like GoDaddy will give you a simple group of templates you can use. Wordpress is free and easy to use. Except, apparently, for anyone who actually knows any html, because my God I do not get it.
If you are in college or have apt opportunity to take a web design class, I find this to be the best method. Html is the process of reproducing never changing codes, and is only hard when you make a mistake. (Then it’s impossible.) If you get a book and have someone explain the basics to you, it becomes really easy to do so on your own.
I would strongly suggest having a place where people can find you online. The number one way I take someone seriously is if they have a specialized page for themselves, and it’s the best way for a reader who likes your work to find more of it. Even a Facebook page can count.
Day 20. Edit a short story.
We still have those shorts that you’ve probably forgotten about. Work with one.
Day 21. Start a blog.
Plan on posting something each and every week. This is a quick and easy way to determine how easy it is if you want to market yourself. (A question anyone considering self-publishing should consider.) By having a blog and starting a following, you can more easily advertise your book once it gets picked up, and, if you have a lot of hits, publishers will consider your work over those who don’t have a platform.
Day 22. Edit your query.
Remember that book you’re trying to get out? Look again at your favorite query version and do another draft.
Day 23. Start reading a novel.
I am not one of those advocates of authors must read. Anything we need to do is something we will start doing naturally. I especially don’t think it’s all that important for people who haven’t written a lot to force themselves into reading a lot. It’s like math class. I don’t realize what information I’m missing until I actually try to do it for myself.
At this point in the game, however, we can start to see little things about the process that readers miss, and reading a book will remind us what a story is supposed to look like.
Day 24. Edit a short story.
Day 25. Read 30 pages of a novel.
Day 26. Read and post a comment on someone else’s blog (say, mine).
Don’t make it anonymous. Make it easy to find you, your website, and your blog if anyone chose to look. Use your full name and, if possible, a profile that will take them directly to your site.
Day 27. Read 30 pages of a novel.
Day 28. Write a blog post.
This should be at least your second blog. Make sure to prioritize this deadline even though you probably don’t have any readers yet. Do at least one read through for typos before posting.
Day 29. Read your query to someone else.
Get some feedback on your query letter. Preferably someone who has actually read the book.
Day 30. Read 30 pages of a novel.
We have two novels down, a whole bunch of short stories, and an online base set up. Think of where you were one year ago just wishing it could be this way. Now you are wishing for all new things! Isn’t the change refreshing?
We’re winding down out of the realm of our control. Now it’s time for the waiting game.