The Importance Of A Production Schedule

Although I love the holiday season, I’m a HUGE fan of January 1st.  That’s when the new year stretches out before us unsullied by our footsteps. What will happen in 2017?  What will we accomplish? Anything is possible.

But, as with everything else, possibilities only become realities if we actually do the work to make them happen.

Most of the time I just have vague thoughts about what I’d like to accomplish. And, as you might expect, those thoughts don’t matter much in the long run. So this year I’m going to try to take steps to turn possibilities into probabilities.

If you read the post about my goals for the next few years, you saw that one was to have 3-4 more products available by the end of 2017. (I’m actually aiming for more than that, but I don’t want to get my hopes up). Another was to set up a production schedule.

The new products goal is to meet my longer term objective of “15 total products by the end of 3 years, excluding “Hold Me”.” The production schedule is the roadmap to get there.

In the past, I’ve been reluctant to commit to an actual production schedule. It makes it all seem so bloodless, doesn’t it? How can I have a schedule for creativity? How can I know when a book is going to be finished? Isn’t that taking away the mystique of the whole thing?  Don’t take away my mystique, darn it!

But if your goal is to produce more books, you need some structure. If you are swimming upstream (or in your own little pond entirely) you need to provide your own deadlines and expectations. They might be self-imposed, but they need to be important to you. You need to care whether or not you hit them. A schedule tells you what those deadlines are, what those expectations are, and helps you fit them into your life.

My timing is still up in the air because I’m working at becoming more efficient in the various tasks needed to produce and publish a book. So in my schedule, I made plans based on what I think I should be able to do, but I’m sure things will change as I grow my skills.

I started with some hard deadlines I want to meet. “Welcome to Hardy Falls Book 2” takes place leading up to Thanksgiving, and “Welcome to Hardy Falls Book 2.5” takes place between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’d like them to be published at times appropriate for those holidays.

Using those deadlines, I worked backward to try to build in time for all of the various tasks needed for publication – editing, covers, beta readers, and all that.

In addition, I am working on a short little novella about Mary Alice and Johnny (from Hardy Falls) for newsletter sign-ups. I’d like that project to be finished as soon as possible. Hardy Falls Book 3 needs to be basically finished by the end of the year, if not sooner, so I’ll be drafting that as soon as 2 and 2.5 are done.  I also have ideas for other series that need to be fleshed out, as well as Hardy Falls book 4. Then the blog and the newsletter require writing time and need to be scheduled.

I think you can see how easy it is to let things slip if you don’t have a plan!

I came up with a rough schedule for next year and started implementing it in December.  I’m not going to share it all now, mostly because I really don’t know if it’s realistic, but here are the first two time blocks –

12/4-12/17 –

Keep up with current blogs and newsletters. Clean up my task list as much as possible. This means dealing with all of the millions of things needed to maintain my current books, my website, and my newsletter, and hopefully make them better and more professional. Plot out Mary Alice’s short novella.

12/18 – 12/31 –

Keep up with the current blog and newsletter. Write a backlog of blogs and newsletter articles. Write first draft of Mary Alice novella.

Okay, that was the plan for December.  How did I do?

The first goal – to clean up my task list, took longer than expected when I decided to re-read the first two Hardy Falls books and make some minor proofing changes. I wanted to feel as good about them as possible now that they have new covers. Because there were some changes in the texts, the ebooks and print books needed to be reformatted, which took time.  I also went hopping merrily down some rabbit holes that were not exactly productive.

In addition, I had some personal issues (including the whole “worm incident” mentioned in this blog post – ick) which stole time as well. However, I did bust through most of my task list, and the books are reformatted and republished. Now except for one or two straggling issues, I can set them aside and not worry about them. I managed to do a rough plot for the novella.

For the second two week period, I got blog posts and the newsletter for January written.  I planned out the blog posts through April and the newsletters for the rest of the year.  I did some good work on the Mary Alice novella, but it is far from finished.

Because the Mary Alice novella is a priority, I’ve adjusted the schedule so this block will go through 1/7, to give me a chance to (hopefully) finish the first draft.

The next period will go from 1/8 – 3/15.  I have ambitious goals to finalize a lot of stuff, and I’ll be trying to become much more efficient with my self-editing process.  I’m not sure right now whether these goals are do-able – dates may need to be adjusted. I’ll split the block into periods for each product once I see how it’s going.  First up is Mary Alice, then on to Hardy Falls book 2.

I’m planning on doing regular blog posts about the production schedule and whether or not I’m meeting my goals (at the beginning of every month). You’ll be able to see how I do in real time! Watch me run! Watch me leap for the ball! Will I catch it, or fall flat on my face?

Only time will tell.

 

 

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Comments

  1. Only if you have a destination will you know if you have arrived. Goals and time-lines are critical if you want to keep up a pace that will make you successful – and that can be in something as simple as getting the dishes done, or as ambitious as writing a book. Schedules help to keep one focused on the little steps.

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