These look like the writings of a sane father, right?

Working while having kids has been a constant and evolving state. Just look up the Tag “Twinmaggedon” to see anything regarding me trying to get ANYTHING done when there’s kids running around.

Since lockdown, and since I started being a stay-at-home dad full time, I can honestly say my work process has strangely increased. It’s unexpected, but I think a combination of acknowledgement of the limited time I have as well as leaving my regular freelance writing gig for George Takei gave me the freedom and motivation to really pursue this writing dream of mine. You wouldn’t be wrong to think that before kids, before a crazy schedule, before lack of sleep, before lack of sleep in my own bed, to think I would have been a more active writer.

And I should have been.

“You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone,” is the expression, yes?

Now that I don’t have infinite time, I have to make the time I have count. Even more so, since we’re approaching the 7th anniversary of my decision to step away from classroom teaching full time to try and become a writer, I’m aware of what kind of work I can get done in a period of time.

Writing a 1st draft, in the flow, I can do about 1,500 – 2,000 words an hour, give or take. Editing pages with a red pen (typically after printing it up in the 2nd draft), I can go about 5 pages in 30 min, or roughly 10 pages an hour.

This knowledge is key to setting realistic goals and allowing you to work around the disappointment of, “I wasn’t able to get the work done in the time I wanted!” Using this, and a little math, you can plan out how many days it would take for you to, say, write a first draft or edit a book. Honesty is key in this, as you shouldn’t be including days you know you won’t be able to work on a regular basis. This is coming to you on a Sunday, but I don’t have Sundays as regular work days. Just a little bonus.

Projects are assigned letters. A. B. C. D. E. S.

S is the most important. That’s Project: GREY, the middle-grade science-fiction book I’m querying out to literary agents. That’s once a week, every Friday, for an hour. The only per-requisite work needed before then is agent research. I look up agencies and agents throughout the week, maybe during downtime with the kiddos, bookmark pages, look at their clients, and decide if they could be a good fit for me. Then, Friday, I pitch. One hour.

A is the next book on the docket. The one furthest along. That, presently, is Proejct: NESS, middle-grade contemporary fantasy. It’s in its 3rd draft and has the most potential for pitching, so I’m working on that for an hour a day, four days a week, editing and fixing it up. 10 pages a day. 40 pages a week. Should be ready in 4 weeks.

B, C, and D are in the middle of plotting, planning, and designing. These can be books that need plots laid out, characters designed, and all the work that comes for a first draft. I work on each of these a little at a time, 2 days a week, 30 minutes at a time. That’s about an hour of work a week.

E is a special case right now. I started writing Project: BIANCA nearly four years ago and stopped when I came to a not very particularly tough scene which shook my confidence. I’ve since realized confidence is a myth and nothing matters and this book is 30k words along and it’s probably only going to be 45k so why wouldn’t I freaking finish it? 1 hour a week, on Thursdays, 1,500 words a day, should be done in 10 weeks.

This means a weekly schedule looks like this:

S is labeled as F on this. I changed it after taking this pic and didn’t feel like reposting.

And that’s it. Little steps to make big strides. I’ve always explained to anyone foolish enough to ask me that being a writer, in the position I’m in, means you live like a shark. You writer, and rewrite, and draft pitches and queries, and research agents, and pitch, and pitch, and fail, and pitch, and pitch, and work on the next thing, then draft a pitch for that, then on, and on, and on, and on, until an agent finally says yes.

This is the life for now. Schedules can always change, as the boys lifestyles change. (Watch, starting tomorrow, they decide they want to wake up at 7am instead of 8:30.) But this is it for now.

Thanks for reading,

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