plan and track your writing

How to plan and track writing your book

I’m in the fortunate position of writing crime and thriller novels full-time – well, nearly. I’ve found that while writing can be a solitary business, there can also be a surprising number of distractions. So motivation and focus are key. In this blog I’d like to talk about my approach to keeping to a plan, meeting deadlines and achieving a goal – by using time tracking.

So, I created a plan to write my latest novel. In fact, I created a great plan to complete my novel in six months. This was the same process I used for my previous six books.

However, at the back of my mind was the annoying thought that each book I wrote took longer than the six months (26 weeks) I thought it would. More and more stuff was getting in the way of my writing.

First, let’s have a look at my writing plan for each book? Here’s how I saw my 26-week plan roll out. Please bear in mind this isn’t a strict chronology – there’s a lot of jumping back and forth.

  • Week 1

    Write rough notes, pare down to story core or nugget – 50 words

  • Week 2

    Write novel outline – 2-4 pages

  • Week 3

    Write character profiles

  • Week 4

    Write main scene heads

  • Weeks 5- 20

    Write first draft (scene by scene)

  • Weeks 21-25


  • Weeks 26


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So, how did my plan work out?

Weeks 1-4, no problems.

In four weeks, I wrote an outline, character profiles, even outline scene headings, did most research, established settings. Next, off I went to write those scenes.

That’s when things went wrong. Why did I not stay on track?

Well, for Weeks 5-20, I had were 2 goals:

  • Write for three hours per day, Monday to Friday
  • Write a minimum of 1,000 words a day.

Think about it like this.

If I got my 1,000 words completed early I had a choice – do other stuff or press on writing for the full 3 hours. An 80,000-word novel at 1,000 words a day equals 80 writing days. Being realistic and treating writing as a job, I planned for a 5-day week of Monday to Friday, leaving weekends free.

So that’s 80,000 words, divided by 5,000 words a week equals 16 weeks writing (weeks 5-20 in plan above). Then another 6 weeks for polishing, editing and indie publishing.

6 months, easy right?

plan and track your writing