Tag Archives: writing process

Making an annual writing master plan

I sat down to figure out what I needed to do the first week of this year, and I was stuck right away. I had no idea what I needed to do that week because I didn’t know what I needed to do that year. I had a few ideas about what I wanted to do, but I needed to know what I should be working on each month to figure out how to allot my time.

(I didn’t allot time for writing this article. You’re welcome anyway.)

So, how do you figure out what you should be working on in a week, month, year? You’ve got to create your writing master plan. There are lots of great ways to do this, and of course you can use any method that works for you (just like in everything else with writing). I’ve been doing this for five years now–and I’ve done it for up to three years at a time. Here’s how I do it.

To get started you need:

  • a decent idea of how long each phase of a project typically takes you (and how long it can take worst case)
  • office supplies: post-it notes, paper, index cards, poster, whiteboard, magnets, whatever works for you. I’ve used a computer spreadsheet in the past. It’s very helpful if you can rearrange the various pieces, so post-its, cards or magnets are extra useful.
  • a list of the major engagements/vacations/busy times of your year.
  • a year calendar for reference.

Step one: brainstorm

As with any good writing project, at the beginning, we need IDEAS. First, on a piece of paper or on the computer, list all the projects you’re in the middle of, whether they’re active or not. (Projects you’ve truly abandoned don’t have to be on the list.) Drafting, revising, editing, polishing, publishing, wherever a current project falls, write those down on the list. Now, add projects that you know you want to (or need to) write—the next book(s) in your series, that shiny new idea you just got, the sekrit project that’s been simmering forever. Finally, add in a line or two (or more) for any shinier, newer ideas that might come along this year.

Step two: prioritize

We’ll be doing this a lot.

Next, pick out the most important projects to you: the ones you want to work on the most, the ones that make you happiest, the ones that have contracts and deadlines—however you define important. I typically pick three bigger projects per year (i.e., full-length novels: one to write, one to edit, one to publish) and three shorter projects, although sometimes I’ll change up the balance, fewer big projects and more small ones. If you can do more, GREAT! I always have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew, so I’m constantly coming back to my list and moving things to the next year. It kinda sucks.

Step 3: break it down
(dance break optional)

For each project that made it to your short list, break it down into its smaller project phases: drafting, revising, editing, querying/publishing. Each of these phases gets its own post-it or index card. These are the pieces that we want to be repositionable. It’s useful to write down how long you anticipate this phase taking (be generous, super super generous in giving yourself time for this!) It’s also helpful to color code these. I prefer to color code by project, with all my cards for one project the same color, but it might also work to color code them by phase. My pictures here aren’t color coded. Sad. One more tip here: you could also number them so you don’t forget you need to write a project before you edit it.

I feel like I work best in blocks: editing a whole project for a month or even two. You might work best changing your focus project every week. If that’s the case, you might want a card for each week of a project—for example, four drafting cards if you’ll spend four weeks drafting, six revision cards if you’ll spend six weeks revising, etc.

This year did not go the way I thought.

Step 4: make the calendar

On another piece of paper or surface, lay out the calendar. I’ve done this week by week for a year in a spreadsheet, or month by month on paper—in my bullet journal/planner, so it’s all ready. Once you’ve laid out the calendar, mark off any chunks of time you know you won’t be writing (much): vacations, conferences, events, work or family obligations. I don’t bother with the occasional day off here. Also add in any firm deadlines here. I like to put NaNoWriMo on my calendar.

The less you know about these big pieces of your schedule, the more leeway you’ll need in planning, of course.

Step 5: IT BEGINS AT THE END (with deadlines)

Now you can put your cards on your calendar! I start with the firm deadlines I’ve already written in and work backwards from there. If it’s a publishing date, when do I need to have the book to my editor to get it back in time for formatting? I need to be done with my edits by then, so I stick that post-it/card before that date, with time for betas in between (you can also have a card or post-it for sending a work to betas). Same with revisions—I give a window for beta readers and then place revisions before that. Be mindful of the events you’ve put in your schedule, of course.

Step 6: passion projects start at the beginning

Once my deadline project phases are all in position, my calendar is scary full, I prioritize my other projects. What do I want to work on the most? How long will the next phase of that project take? Where do I have time for that on my calendar? Here’s another spot where we want to make sure we keep the phases in order!

If you don’t have time for a given phase, can you move things around to make time for that? I try to move things earlier rather than make more pressure later. For example, maybe I have a month of revision on a deadline project and I stuck it in March, with betas in April and editing in May. I want to work on a project I love, but I need two months for its phase. I can move up revision on the deadline project into February, if there’s space, so I get two consecutive months to work on my “passion project.” Or I can break up that task.

Step 7: evaluate

Now comes the hard part: ask yourself if this is really a realistic amount for you to do in a given week or month. If it’s too much to manage in a month, you have too much to manage in a single year. So do I. This is another time to reprioritize.

In this step, I also look at whether I’m changing up tasks enough—four months in a row of a grueling level of editing, even if I’m changing projects, is a recipe for burnout. I try to change things up between drafting, revising and editing.

Also here, I make sure I’ve got either a phase or a project I really love as often as possible. Sometimes revision or editing can wear me down while drafting tends to fill me up in a different way, so I try to schedule drafting a couple times throughout the year. But that tends to pile up my editing projects, so if I can’t draft, I make sure I’m working on a passion project frequently.

Keep in mind that—unless you’re under contract—it’s okay to move projects off your calendar. When I was planning this year, I originally had six publication dates scheduled. I realized it would be impossible for me to work on my pet passion project if I ran to that schedule, so I pushed one of those books back a year. It hurt on some level, but I knew if I tried to keep up with my original schedule, I’d end up burned out or fall impossibly far behind, or both.

Step 8: record

Once you’ve got a reasonable calendar laid out, write it down. I did this with post-its for this year, so I took a picture, then peeled them off the months one at a time and wrote the text down. Now my year plan is safe in my planner (and on my phone).

You have a master writing plan!

Now what?

Once you’ve laid out your plan on this macro level, you can drill down to a “micro” level. After finishing my year plan this year, I immediately jumped into my January plan back at step 1. I took my list of things for the month from my master plan and “exploded” them into individual tasks. For example, if the project phase is drafting, you might explode that into three days of prewriting, and then X of words per day. If you’re revising, you might spend three days working on issue A, five days working on issue B, four days in a general readthrough, two days entering your notes, and a day (or a minute) sending it to betas. I made a list of these and any other tasks I might need to do this month for my business. Then I wrote them on post-its (still not color coded) and made up a 4×6 grid (four weeks, six days—on the seventh day, I rest). I worked backward from a deadline, then put other tasks into the gaps. I evaluated the plan, shuffled a couple things, then wrote it down (putting dates by the tasks in the original list). Voilà! My master plan has translated into a day-by-day goal list.

Various planner pages. Mostly showing off my new stamps…

But, like I said before, this article wasn’t on that list. So . . . I’d better get to work!

Belated accountability

Sooo I normally do this on the first Friday of the month, but the launch of Spy Noon and then the sale the next week threw me off. The last Monday is close enough, right?

GoalsJanuary accountability

  • Get Spy Another Day #3 ready for critique group & take it to them—I did this! It was so much work, though! I really have to be better about this. The problem with my last two novels is that I’ve taken the extremely rough first draft and polished it to about the third or fourth draft state in one pass. I’ve been working way too hard!
  • Polish up that novella I wrote in September—Check! “Polish up” was my conservative way to say “get this ready and publish.” Which I did.
  • Write enough to stay sane—Aside from the new words I put into SAD #3, I didn’t write anything. No comment on the sanity.
  • Start gathering materials for my next Writing Craft book—I . . . can’t remember when I did this. But I did it!

Whew! It was a busy month. And Feburary’s kept up that pace.

February goals

Okay, the month’s almost over, I know, but fortunately I did write down what I wanted to get done this month.

  • Launch Spy Noon.
  • Prep the second half of Spy Another Day #3 and take it to critique group.
  • Finish gathering materials for my next writing craft book, and write new materials to fill in the gaps.
  • Send next writing craft book to beta readers.
  • Get covers for my next two writing craft books.
  • Gather materials for next-next writing craft book.
  • Write enough to stay sane.
  • Start reading for Whitney Awards.
  • Prep for a family gathering for a big milestone for my son!

That looks like a lot. I should always write my goals out in the last week of the month. Oy.

I’ll let you know how I did next week. I’m sure the suspense is killing you!

What have you accomplished so far this year? How is your writing process or workflow going?

Photo by Celestine Chua

Novel eight!

This entry is part 9 of 13 in the series All my novels

The other day I was reading an interview with Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo, with some frequently asked questions about everyone’s favorite writing month. One of them was “I’ve already done NaNoWriMo. Why do I need another unfinished manuscript in my drawer?” He responded, basically, that you never know when your next novel will constitute a major breakthrough in your life or your craft. His breakthroughs, I believe he said, were novels six and twelve.

That answer resonated with me, because I knew right away which were my breakthroughs: novels three and eight.

The book stats

I, Spy coverTitle: I, Spy
Genre: Romantic suspense
Inspiration: A song on the Dollar Tree sound system. You can find some pretty cool stuff amid the junk at the Dollar Tree, but this is easily the best thing I’ve found.
Writing dates: Idea: 13 Feb 2012. Writing: 10 March – 31 March 2012.
Length: First draft—70,000 words. Final version—84,000 words.
Back cover copy: Canada is probably the last place you’d expect to find an American spy. But even idyllic Ottawa has its deadly secrets—and so does CIA operative Talia Reynolds. She can climb through ventilation shafts, blend in at the occasional diplomatic function, even scale buildings (small ones). But there’s one thing she can’t do: tell her aerospace engineer boyfriend Danny about her Top Secret occupation.

It worked for a year, keeping Danny in the dark, keeping him away from danger, keeping her secrets. And then Talia finally catches a hot case: Fyodor Timofeyev. Russian. Aerospace executive. Possible spy?

She can make this work, too—until Danny needs her at the same time her country does. And when Fyodor targets Danny? Suddenly her schedule isn’t the only thing suffering. Now to save her secrets and her country, Talia must sacrifice the man she loves.

What I learned from this book

A few quick facts: this book was the second book I fast drafted. Coincidentally, it was also the second book I took the time to not only revise and edit, but to polish to the point of publication. This was the first book I’d set somewhere I’d actually been (Thanks, Dad!), which helped in coming up with the locations they visited. Though this was my third novel in first person, and it was my first in present tense. Once upon a time, I was not a fan of either, but as I was working on the first chapter, parts of the narrative would just flow better in first person.

But really, the thing that dictated both the person and tense of the book—the reason this book was a breakthrough for me—was the character’s voice. This voice was one of the strongest I’d ever contended with written. Before I started writing, I knew I wanted the book to be funny and . . . “loose,” but I hadn’t figured out exactly how to do it. Frankly, it just kind of popped into my head with the first sentence of the book. I was so excited to latch on to it, I had to get it down right away. BUT I was saving this idea for a NaNo-like challenge that started the next day, so I wouldn’t allow myself to write it down. So I grabbed my phone and recorded it.

I won’t keep you in suspense: the fabulous first line is “I don’t do catsuits.” (Go ahead, read some more from the first chapter.)

The voice was sometimes so strong that I had to reel it in a bit, because the interior monologue interrupted the flow of the action or dialogue. And other times, while reading it aloud in critique group, I’d start rambling on in Talia’s voice, and my CPs would tell me what I’d said was so funny I had to include it.

This book was also what I used in an advanced deep editing course from Margie Lawson. I’ve loved her previous classes, and I still apply the EDITS system to everything I send to critique partners. But this time, I went through every. single. page. of my novel hunting for ways to tighten, power up, refine and beautify. I think it shows 🙂 .

And of course, since this became my first published novel, I learned a whole lot about the publishing process! I learned how to make an ebook. I learned how to make a print book. I learned how to get ISBNs, a business license, an awesome cover designer, editors, blurbs . . . everything.

The publishing side is a lot of work, but I do love that I can have everything in my book exactly how I want it. Or so I keep trying to tell myself as I haul myself through the publication process on two more books. AAAGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Which novels were your “breakthroughs”?

Lucky! Number! Seven!

This entry is part 8 of 13 in the series All my novels

After a maaajor crash and burn novel, I needed to quit writing, perhaps forever. And then fall (the season) came, and with it, NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month.

To this point, I’d never done a full NaNo. I made a sad attempt in 2006, but stalled out in the first chapter. In 2010, the year before this, I did a “Half-No” where I added 25,000 words to my ill-fated sixth novel. I’d written a book pretty quickly before: 90,000 words in 8 or 9 weeks, spanning over November (2008), but I started in October (five years ago today, in fact!), so it couldn’t count as official even if my word count was enough.

I like to challenge myself, so doing NaNo wasn’t enough. I heard of Candace Havens’s “Fast Draft” method, where you write your first draft in two weeks. I finally found the right characters to use for an idea that had been bouncing around in my brain for over a year, sketched out a plot, threw that away, took a deep breath, crossed my fingers, and dove in.

The book stats

Title: Bloodstone
Genre: Uhh . . . action/adventure romance, I guess? It’s a lot like National Treasure.
Inspiration: Umm . . . I think it was partially inspired by a History Channel pseudoscientific special on Vikings in the Americas. Also, some notes on a passage of scripture.
Writing dates: 1 November 2011 – 14 November 2011
Length: Just over 78,000 in the first draft; sitting at 85,000 right now.
Elevator pitch (or a little bit longer than that): Professor Cora Warren has an archaeological dig to conduct; her student Jack has his own agenda: an unbelievable archaeological theory. But it’s not his theory that challenges Cora’s faith the most—until they unearth an artifact that will drag them through a thousand years of incredible history, give them both a reason to believe, and bring them face-to-face with a secret society hellbent on keeping the treasure and the glory for themselves.

Dude. I love this book.

107/365 [Flying Fingers]

What I learned from this book

First and foremost: as soon as I got up on November 1, I dove into this book. AND WRITING WAS FUN AGAIN! It had been two years since I’d written something that I loved and enjoyed, and had it flow. I’d forgotten the joy of drafting, and how much my soul needed that creative energy. I also got to revisit one of my favorite conflicts in romance: forbidden love!

To date, this is the longest I’ve gone from initial idea to actual writing. In fact, I was sure I’d given up on that idea, that it didn’t have the spark or passion I’d need to sustain a novel. The characters I’d initially sketched out for the idea just didn’t connect with me: the “hero” had such an obvious agenda he came off as flat before I ever even gave the guy a name. Having let the ideas percolate so much—and building on something that has as much background as Vikings in America—gave me a lot of fuel to write very fast!

And speaking of writing fast, I wrote real fast. I wasn’t sure if I could really do the Fast Draft method, especially since I don’t write on Sundays, but sure enough, I hit “The End” on November 14, averaging 6500 words a day. This was majorly helped by my first ever writing retreat, where I wrote . . . darn, my records are on my old laptop still. But it was many words. Plus, I got to be there to receive the acceptance letter for what was to be my first published novel (third manuscript), and to get to share that news with friends in person was very cool. (There may have been a request for a cartwheel. I may have fulfilled that request.)

Writing fast also had some other advantages. I thought I’d end up with a super sloppy first draft, and yes, in some ways I did. However, having the entire novel in my head helped me to weave together threads that I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise, instead of dropping them and fixing it in revision. It really felt like weaving a novel, like all the craft and structure mechanics I’d spent the last four years beating into my head were really coming together. It was far from perfect—and I think it’s going to have to undergo a second round of revisions still—but it was surprisingly good.

COVEROne of the craft and structure mechanics that really came together for me during this time was the concept of the character arc, and most especially how I needed to use that arc at the climax. This was a major craft breakthrough for me, and I’m excited to share it with you in Character Arcs, coming next week! (You can add it to your Goodreads now. Just sayin’.)

This novel was also the first time I got to experiment with different timelines, something I love to read. I watched National Treasure to analyze the structure of the genre and I was struck that the beginning of the movie is a flashback (uh, sort of?) depicting part of the history of the secret/legend they’re pursuing. I ended up using three storylines throughout: one in Puritan times (the first time the stone is unearthed), one in the mid-nineteenth century (forming the secret society), and one modern (finding stone, coming up against secret society, romance, character arcs and more). Plus a scene in Viking times (remembering the creation of one of the clues).

Man. I love this book. I’m going to love it so much more when it’s shiny and perfect. Sigh.

Tell me about one of your favorite manuscripts!

Photo credit: The Hamster Factor via Flickr & CC

Swinging for the fences (subplots to resume next week!)

This week, I decided to try something a little crazy. My husband was going to be out of town Monday and Tuesday, and my kids go to bed early, so I’d have my evenings to myself. What’s my favorite thing to do when that happens? Write with reckless abandon, of course.

And so I decided to go full force on the reckless abandon part. I decided to challenge myself: could I write a novella in two days? I’ve written novels in two weeks, but this would be pushing it—averaging 9,000 words a day, nearly double my usual “Fast Draft” method.

The short answer: no. When my husband got home late last night, I called it quits to spend time with him. But when I finished last night, I had 16,000 shiny new words. From two days of work.

I gotta do this every week!

fast fingers

The biggest lesson I saw from this was the importance of goal setting. On Monday, I set a goal of 8000 words (I had to take time for grocery shopping and finishing up book blast things). I stayed up way too late, but I met that goal while running a household with four little kids by myself. (I even did my own dishes!)

Tuesday, I had to swing for the fences. I set a goal of 10,000 words. Ten. Thousand. By midnight, I had written 8000 words.

I didn’t meet my goal—I fell short by about 2000 words. But, I figured, after two days of a jabillion words, I could knock that out in the morning, right?

Uh yeah. It took until 10 PM to get those last words, and not because the story was tough or I didn’t know what came next. I knew exactly what was supposed to happen. But apparently writing abhors a vacuum, and having so little pressure on myself to get the words . . . I didn’t.

So to borrow the cliché, swing for the fences. You might not write 10,000 words in a day—but you’ll geta heck of a lot farther than if you’re only aiming for first base.

(And yes, this is why there’s no post on subplots today. Next time!)

What do you think? How do your goals affect your outcome?

Photo by Katie Krueger

8 things to do when you’re stuck

It happens to the best of us: sometimes we just get stuck in our stories. And yeah, I’m there now. I’m about 2/3s of the way through a short novella—and I haven’t written a word since Wednesday. It’s more than just writers’ block—I don’t know what to do next.

As frustrating as this is, getting stuck is fairly common, right? Even if you’re a plotter (which I am), beatblocksometimes, you just don’t know what comes next and all your ideas are vague, lame, or just not the very next thing in your story.

I’ve been through this before—I was drafting a book last March and I got a little farther than this, and I ran into the end of my outline: the last quarter of the book was supposed to be “They defeat all the bad guys and find love against all odds.”


My outline notes are a little sketchy this time around, too, and my milestones have moved around a bit in my plotting roadmap. I don’t know what comes next—and I’m tapped out for ideas right now. Even in other creative endeavors, I’m coming up empty.


So today I’m digging out some very good advice from my archives (and hopefully this time I will follow it) to help me and anybody else who’s coming up against a wall of no ideas.

The kids are in bed, the house is clean, you’ve spent some quality time with your spouse and you’ve watched your favorite show. Now it’s your time—time to write with nothing hanging over your head. You sit at your computer, fingers poised over the keys and—

Nothing happens.

What do you do? Spend the next two hours checking email and blogs, playing Text Twist and Minesweeper, coming back to your story every half hour without anything new to add and drifting away again until you can’t face your computer anymore and go to bed, strangely empty and guilty?

No! You don’t have to succumb to writers’ block—you can fight it, and you should. What makes a writer vs. a wannabe is perseverance (and the same is true about revisions, finding an agent, getting published, selling books, etc., etc.). Working through writers’ block makes you a stronger, better, more creative writer. And here are eight ways to do it.

Come up with more ideas
Easier said than done, I know, but try brainstorming new events and directions for your story. I recently came across an analysis of the story conference for Raiders of the Lost Ark. The surprising thing about this conference is the sheer volume of ideas—the writer, director and producer threw out ideas while brainstorming, not worrying about how outlandish or stupid they might sound—you never know if it could be made workable.

Recycle an old idea
Did you have an amazing plot twist you never got to use or used in another (preferably unpublished) work, or one you love in someone else’s story? Find a way to work that idea into this story. The mine cart chase scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom originally came from the conference for Raiders, but they didn’t use it there—an instant source for later ideas.

Look for more connections within your work
I got stuck in one WIP when I needed a task for my hero. He’d agreed to do something for the villain in exchange for a hostage, but I was drawing a blank as to what that should be. I tried to think of something the villain could send him after—but finally the right answer came to me. It shouldn’t just be something, it should be something related to the plot. And I had a subplot that could tie back into the main plot (and a minimystery that could be solved) right here.

Write something
You may have to take some time away from your WIP to get the creative juices flowing. You can work on another idea—writing or plotting or planning—or you can find writing prompts to get started. Sometimes focusing on another story idea will give you the boost or idea you need to progress in your first story—just don’t get sidetracked for too long!

Write nothing
Do something mindless—like playing Text Twist or Minesweeper, or doing house or yard work. Do something creative—if you play an instrument, practice. If you do a handicraft—knitting, needlework, woodcarving, knapping—make something. Occupying your hands while letting your mind roam can have great creative rewards.

As hard as this may be, maybe you’ve written yourself into a corner. Maybe there just isn’t anywhere for the story to go now, and you need to delete the last paragraph or scene or chapter. (Ouch!) Look at where your story took a turn for a dead end and brainstorm another direction.

Read (or watch)
Look for other ideas (and beautiful writing) in other works, in or outside of your genre. You can also watch a movie or TV show and play the “what if” game—what if something happened differently in this scene. (I came up with a whole story idea this way.)

You can often avoid getting stuck if you plan out where you’re going in advance. Not always, of course—I’m a plotter, and I can still get stuck in the gray areas of my outline. But back before I started plotting out my stories, I began with an ending in mind, but sometimes I spent weeks stopped in the middle, trying to figure out how to get there. Even loose plotting can help to keep the big milestones in mind to keep you moving toward your goals. Plus you can brainstorm in advance and save all those ideas for any lulls.

Beating writers’ block can be tough, but you can do it—and if you’re going to finish, you have to.

What do you think? How do you beat writers’ block?

Photo credits: paper ball—makedonche19; blank page—Chris Blakeley;
I can’t think—Alyssa L. Miller


Every once in a while, we need a jump start for our projects, and one of my favorite ways to do that is to get together with other writers. We see this a lot at NaNoWriMo, but who can wait for November? Plus not everyone wants to write 50,000 words in a month.

JumpStartWriMo, June 2012, photo by arbyreed from FlickrThis month, my friend Julie Coulter Bellon is hosting a “JumpStartWriMo” to jump start whatever you’re working on. You get to set your own goals—challenge yourself and get a move on your project no matter what phase you’re in.

In addition to working on my goals—finish revising this MS and get it ready to go, and take an online class—I’ll be helping Julie out with some pep talks and maybe some other incentives (hint hint). Head on over to her blog to grab the badge, sign up and subscribe to keep up with the awesomeness!

How to read while writing

I’ll admit it: I love to read, but when I’m writing, I don’t do a lot of reading. (Oh, crud, there’s a secondary confession in there: I typically don’t write [i.e. write brand new material in a first draft] every single day. Gasp.) There are a couple reasons for this. (The reading, not the writing. That’s another post.) When I am writing a book, it usually consumes every second of “free” (read: writing or reading time) time I have for those weeks. But don’t worry—I still get my (non)fiction fix in! Here’s how!


Occasionally, I can work in a little bit of reading while drafting. For me, nonfiction research reading can often feed my creative beast muse—very important when you push it as hard as I do (we’re talking 4-5000 words/day while drafting).

I have to do a lot of research anyway (since I’m a little obsessive), and research reading is a great source of new ideas. I’m revising and editing right now, and I’m digging deep into my research reading at the same time—and the ideas I’m discovering are fantastic! Man, I wish I’d done this research sooner. Sigh.

Fiction, however, is another story for me. When I read fiction while writing, the voice or style of the book I read often bleeds into the book I’m writing. That usually isn’t so good. So let’s just assume that we’re not going to be reading fiction while drafting, but we definitely can’t take off all our time from reading. What’s a writer to do?

Take a reading break

One thing I try to do periodically, especially when trying to get necessary distance from my book, is to take a break from writing/revising/editing altogether and just read. It’s a good time to catch up in your genre, explore another, try something new or completely different, or just enjoy yourself. Reading breaks are also a great place to find ideas. Way back when I wrote three books in one year (before I did 4–5000-word days!), the thing that got me writing that third book (insanity!) was an idea I just couldn’t resist after reading a fantastic book.

Read carefully while editing

Reading while editing will vary from writer to writer, but for me, I think I actually benefit from reading writing that I . . . don’t care for, we’ll say. If you’ve been editing your own work long enough, you probably rewrite sentences in published novels at least occasionally. (Admit it, we all do!) When you feed your editing habit, you may look at your own writing with a more critical eye.

On the other hand, I’m sure some writers find it more helpful to read really, really good novels while editing, giving them a mark to shoot for. Me, I go for the petty alternative 😉 .

Set a reading goal

And make it public!. I pledged to read 50 books last year, and I thought that wouldn’t be too hard. I’d read 40 the year before (um, including a 6-week leave from all writing while I read [and had a baby]), and even very long books seldom take me a week to read. You know, except for the weeks I can’t, when I’m consumed by my own books (or, heaven forbid, the humans with whom I cohabit)(okay, or the frog)(and Randy makes his blog debut!).

That public pledge ended up pushing me pretty hard, especially since I did NaNoWriMo, too. It came down to the wire, but I got in my 50 books, even if a couple were rereads of some classics of writing craft.

What do you think? Can you read while you write? If not, when do you read?

Photo credits: reading a book—Kendra; glasses on book—Antonio Mantero