A rolling writing schedule

It’s out with the old and in with the new in my office this week…

Goodbye, outline for Sophie's Encore...

Goodbye, outline for Sophie’s Encore…

...and hello, outline for book #4. Very nice to meet you!

…and hello, outline for book #4. Very nice to meet you!

Exciting stuff! For the first time in two years, I’m starting work on a completely new story. I’m creating new characters and I’m thoroughly enjoying making up profiles and back stories for Emily, Nate and Mike. (I think that’s what they’ll be called. I’m comfy with these names. Their personas are taking shape… but I’ll reserve judgement until I’m actually writing).

I thought I’d miss Sophie and Dan. And I do! But it’s fabulous to make new friends.

Obviously I’ve been talking about my upcoming fourth Work-in-Progress on Facebook and I realize that this must be really quite weird for people who aren’t me. I mean, Sophie’s RUN is only just out. Sophie’s ENCORE will be out in September, so there’s definitely another Nicky Wells book a-coming. And already this crazy author moves on, talks about her next WiP? How? Why? Slow down and… explain!

So I’ve been putting on my thinking cap and tried to visualize the internal, rolling work plan that I seem to be following. See, when one book goes to the publisher for editing, that’s the moment I use to plan the next book and, time permitting, to start writing. It’s a multi-stage, overlapping process that takes between 20 and 30 weeks from start to finish. And if your mind boggles at all of this, maybe a little picture will help. Here goes:

rolling workplan

It is only a rough guide (and a blurry one~I do apologize. By all means, click on the image to enlarge it!). A lot depends on how it’s all going; how many edits are needed, how much time is spent proofing and, of course, any other commitments I may have (like…school holidays!). That’s why there’s so much flexibility in the weeks ‘alloted’ for each stage. And evidently one vital activity ~ promotion ~ is missing apart from a reference to ‘blog tours’; that’s simply because promotion is ongoing. It happens every day.  But nonetheless, maybe this little map helps you get an idea of how I work.

Right now, I’m at the overlapping tasks of starting to think about my next blog tour for WiP #1 (Sophie’s Encore) while planning my fourth book (WiP #2).

I actually find that alternating between projects and getting some distance from each several times in the process really helps me evaluate my work. Plus it stops me going mad, LOL.

So. You don’t have to be mad to be an author, but it helps.
What do you reckon? 🙂

34 responses to “A rolling writing schedule

  1. It certainly drives me mad Nicky – I sometimes think life would be much easier if I didn’t write, trying to juggle real life characters and ficticious ones is hard!!! Still, gotta keep keeping on – glad to see you are and always interested in how other writers do it (I am so not as organised as you!!!). Looking forward to catching up with Sophie et al again in Sophie’s Run as well as meeting the new kids on the block! xxx

    • Hi Shani, thanks so much for stopping by and for such a lovely comment. Life *would* be easier if we weren’t juggling all these commitments and trying to write at the same time. But it would also be… poorer. Less colourful. Don’t you think? It’s worth it and it’s nice to know we’re all in this together! Rock on and keep writing. XXX

  2. Wow, you’re certainly a busy lady! I don’t think my mind would cope with all those different things at once 😀

    As you know I’m very much looking forward to Sophie’s Encore but will also be sad to see the end of it 😦 But it’s okay because I now have your fourth book to get excited about, I can’t wait to see where you take Emily, Nate and Mike (I like those names too) so keep up the great work!!

    Kate x

    • Ah, Kate, but the best is yet to come in Sophie’s Encore and while you might be sad to wave goodbye, I think ~ I hope ~ it’ll leave you on a real high. And then you have the next story to look forward to! Thanks, as always, for all your support ~ you rock! XX

  3. Hi Nicky, know exactly how you feel, but it’s amazing how soon the new characters ‘bed in’ and soon become old familiar friends! Very exciting times for you – enjoy!

    • It’s true, and you’re absolutely right, Jo. But do you know what’s really weird? I’m finding Sophie and Dan having conversations with Emily and Nate. I mean… what? Maybe I *am* going completely mad here!!! (And no ~ there won’t be any cameo appearances although it is tempting, of course. But no.) Thanks for visiting and commenting today! XX

  4. God you are so ORGANISED!!! I know I’ve already said it, but it just has to be said again. You would have made the most amazing wedding planner. New ideas and the inception and capture for me are really spontaneous and often get kick-started by some passionate musing that turns into a scene in my head that then snowballs into a story all of its very own.

    This morning I had that about an actor who I adore who shares my birthday but is decades older and BAM! I now have a novella out of it in principle, characters 60% fully formed, captured in a special notebook in 4 pages, the most pivotal bits. 75% of me wants to know drop everything and just embark on it right now, so that 4-page capture is my compromise. Is that how you capture your story or new ideas before the schedules kick in? xx

    • LOL, Yasmin, does it help to know that I organized my own wedding, start to finish? So I was a wedding organizer once. I simply can’t help being organized. One, it’s just how I am. Two, it’s how I was brought up. And three, it’s how I was trained at work. I guess I’m tackling this author thing in the same way I tackled project management in the days when I was a paid professional. (That sounds weird now!). And once the planning habit is ingrained, it’s impossible to shake.

      But yes, despite all of that, I get attacked by ideas in the same way that you do (except mine usually come to me in the middle of the night). I have to write down a rough outline rightaway, just as you describe, and I often feel I want to drop everything for the new book. Alas, I rarely can — too many other things going on! So the ideas go in the queue and when their time comes, they get planned and scheduled… (gosh, that does sound dreadful, ha ha ha). Good luck with your new venture ~ I’ll look forward to reading it!!!

      • I honestly admire that efficiency! I think it’s brilliant. If it was sold on Amazon, I’d buy it in a heartbeat; ‘ Efficiency’ Add to basket, Check out ; )
        it’s really weird, as when I worked I was completely on the ball all the time, I had to be as a freelancer, as you’re in at the deep end all the time, but when it comes to my writing, there is so much emotion wrapped up in my creativity, it’s hard to tame it, make me settle and produce, but when I do, it’s a bloody beautiful thing and the results generally please me : ) I miss hardcore writing, I look forward to going back to it xx

      • Go for it. Harness the excitement, it’ll give you such a boost. Pretend you’re freelance again!!! 🙂 (coz… in a a way… you are!)

  5. See, told you you were Superwoman, Nicky!

    Ooh I’d love a proper office where I could stick things on the walls…. but I’ll ‘stick’ to my spreadsheet plans.

    At present: Novel #2, novella, short story for next Writers’ Circle, revise another short story for competition entry, Creations flash fiction for publishing next week, Friday Fictioneers now and then…. so no, I don’t have 3 novels on the go, but, like you, there’s plenty to keep my mind busy!! Long live writing and new characters and storylines!

    But, as you know, I don’t – can’t – plan the ‘creating’ part. I just have to organise ‘me’ lol. 😀

    Have fun, sweetie. xx

    • Wow, Jo, you have so much going on ~ I’m dizzy just thinking about it. Interesting to hear that you use spreadsheets for planning ~ why don’t you blog about that some time, I’d love to hear about how that works!!

      Wishing you loads of fun too! Just take it easy and get plenty of rest in the meantimes. 🙂 Rock on and thanks for visiting! xx

  6. Hi Nicky
    When people ask me in interviews whether I’m a PLOTTER or a PANTSER I tell them: “I’d probably say a little of both. I make a skeleton of an outline, writing down the basic plot points I’d like to hit as the story unfolds; and as a sculptor starting with a wire base of what they’d like to have, I add material, then take some away, until I had the finished product I had in mind and am satified with,.

    • Ok, love that analogy, Robin, that’s beautiful and I can totally see that working. Thanks for visiting and commenting today! X

      • THANKS for your compliment. Those of us who are authors each have our own ways as to how we go about endeavoring/endeavouring to write write the manuscripts which will hopefully one day allow us to give “birth” to our first or another book. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  7. You’re far more organized than I am, that’s for sure. Good on you getting the planning for your fourth book into the works.

    I agree that authors have to be a bit mad… I mean, we hear voices in our heads… LOL! 🙂

  8. I am in AWE of your organization! You deserve a medal.

    • LOL, thank you. I consider myself be-medalled. Some call it ‘teutonic efficiency’ ~ I’ve heard this said to me more than once. *shrugs* What can I do? Nothing to be in awe of though ~ this can all be learned. Thank you SO much for leaving such a lovely comment, though, Anneli, you put a big smile on my face.

  9. Okay, Nicky, when are you coming over to mine to organise me? Please!!!!

  10. Ooh, I think it’s probably more stressful than giving birth. Your baby isn’t even out there in the world – and your mind is planning another. Eeek! We definitely have to be a little bit mad. I’m right there with you, Nicky. Just final-editing my completed ms, before it goes off to my publisher, and my thoughts are on my next. OCD, but I can’t help it. 🙂 xx

  11. Nicky, your organization is most admirable! I am a true pantser but am considering using Scrivener to organize my next MS. Have you ever taken a look at that writing program? Although it looks to me like you need no help from anywhere else. Rock on!

    • I’ve heard a lot about Scrivener but I’m too scared (and too set in my ways, haw haw) to take a look, I’m afraid. I get the feeling that Scrivener would automate a lot of the things that I definitely have to ‘go through’ step by step as part of my mental process and I would probably feel lost without it. HOWEVER ~ am willing to be convinced, would love to hear about your experiences if you give it a try. Thanks for visiting and commenting! xx

  12. Ok, after reading this and the comments I need a publisher.. Writing in 4-6 weeks I can easily do while I work full time. Self-edits 2-4 weeks? No way! I don’t plan anywhere as much as you but did do project management and I agree planning habits get ingrained but I’m basically a pantser.. which ultimately means tons of edits..
    Interesting that Dan and Sophie are chatting to nate and Emily. Mine do that but the characters are like actors chatting about all sorts of things…
    Huge thanks for letting us into your scheduled world Nicky. xx
    No non-writers read this blog do they? 😉

    • Hi Lynne, oh goodness, I hope they do! I’d love for my readers to get a glimpse of how I work too! Self-edits is a funny one… I think with distance, it definitely gets easier and of course there’s also betareader input to consider. I’m a fast editor, LOL! Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your thoughts, I love it. x

  13. Yep, you have to be mad, organised, a workaholic and juggle like the best pro at the circus! Think you have that sussed Nicky – piece of cake!

  14. Nicky, you are SO ORGANISED!!! I’m totally impressed and wish I was more like you 🙂

  15. Gosh you are so organised. I jot a few notes, draw a couple of maps and then type. I do write a character profile (physical looks, personality and so forth) but really I just wing it. You put me to shame. Good luck with the WIP – dare I ask if music is a theme?

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