Thursday, June 14, 2012

Know How You Work-- A Guest Post by Jordan McCollum

Since Jordan is offering our amazing prize this week, I thought I'd have her guest post so you can see for yourself why I admire her.  To see more of how she works, along with her great writing and marketing tips, you can visit her blog here.

Once upon a time (in March), I made a goal to revise--and by revise, I mean totally overhaul--a 320-page novel in nine days. Looking back, that's more stupid than crazy. Even when I broke it down into "bites" to make it on schedule, I was usually trying to hit 40 pages a day.

On a book that needed substantial rewrites, that was a lot to handle on a single day (especially as a mom with little kids at home). I kept up the good slog, staying up late and getting up early, working through dinner, etc. It was a lot of work! In my first week of work, I cut 76 pages of material--and my manuscript was only 17 pages shorter. That's almost 60 pages of new material in a week. No wonder it was so hard!

But after those first seven days, I had a break through--or maybe a break down. I was adding a lot of new material on one particular storyline, and that took research and thought and planning in addition to the actual writing. Finally, I realized I needed to sit down and write out the scenes from that storyline all together to make sure all the steps came in the right order.

So on day eight, I focused on just the scenes that were already in the book--i.e. scenes that were not in the new storyline--and decided to write the other storyline and insert it later. And instead of staying up until the wee hours to eke out my 40 pages, I hit 50 pages by 8 PM! I planned, researched and wrote out the new scenes and slipped them into the story over the next day or two. (Great, fail me now, progress spreadsheet. Sigh.) It was a rough rewrite--but it was done!

The moral of the story: know how you work, know your strengths and limitations--and group tasks for efficiency!

Now go jump start the day!


Debra Erfert said...

Wow! You had my head spinning. That was a lot of work. Very impressive. Yes, we need to know our limitations, but stretch and flex our muscles or we'll never gain anymore strength.

I'm sorry that I missed the sprint last night. Glad you had a few of your regulars stop by.

Jon Spell said...

The sprint was fun! We should definitely do more of those.

I tend to group my work tasks like you're talking about - I figure out the ones that will take more work and less work, and then burn through the easy ones to clear out my inbox, then I tackle the bigger ones.

I'm not really to the point where I have such variety of tasks with my writing, but maybe one day...

Melanie Goldmund said...

I agree that the sprint was fun and I'd like to do it again sometime. :-)

But right now, I'm thinking that I might need to totally overhaul the short story I'm working on. I just realized that my story has almost no theme. I thought I had one, but it's not enough, or not right, or something. Now I'm left with twelve pages of my narrator doing this and that, and that's it. No catchy ending, no character growth, no overcoming of big obstacles. Just a boring slice of life that doesn't even say much.

I'm definitely, painfully aware of my limitations! (And some of my strengths, but problem-solving is not among them.) I know how I work, too, but it doesn't seem to be efficient. Sigh.

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Debra, we missed you!

Jon, I think we should do it again, too. It was fun!

Melanie, I had to overhaul my story, too, and that's what's been so hard. Maybe we should have an overhaul jumpstart party! LOL