Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing,  Writing in Public

Setting Up New Writing Schedule

Setting Up New Writing Schedule

Still pretty tired from the sleep schedule getting screwed up, so spent the day doing workshop stuff and getting ready to really fire back up the writing. See Topic of the Night below.


The Day

Once again nothing really much to talk about. Made it through some errands and then went for a walk with another professional writer to get some steps in. Then back to WMG offices to work on workshop stuff.

Then I headed home around 8 p.m. to cook dinner, then back working on workshop stuff and my writing stuff for the rest of the night.



May Online workshops are starting next Monday.

That’s right, May 1st is Sunday. Workshops start on Tuesday. And still room in both new workshops that are starting in May, plus the Author Voice workshop that started last month and the Dialog workshop that started the month before.


Topic of the Night: New Writing Focus. 

I’ve been working on trying to get focused back on my writing. I have three issues of Smith’s Monthly ready to be put together, but WMG Publishing is slow on that at the moment, so I slowed down as well. Now I have a hunch WMG will ramp into the work I have given them, so I need to stay ahead if I plan to get Smith’s Monthly back on schedule.

So here is the plan. I know this is sort of tempting the world to toss things in the way, but here is how my thinking is going. Might want to detail out this same sort of thing for yourself when trying to ramp up your writing for a time. (Warning: There is math involved.)

The Real World Tasks

First, I looked at the outside stuff I want to do. Our new store will be opening in late May and I want to do a lot of work there because it’s great fun.

I also have two workshops to record through May. They are all detailed out, but just not recorded yet and that takes time.

So that’s the two major tasks plus my normal work as WMG Publishing CFO.

I looked hard at all that and I think I can still carve out my normal writing time from midnight onward. Maybe earlier when I get into June.

Writing Goals

I want to first off get Smith’s Monthly back on schedule. My writing isn’t far off on that, but I need a month or two of two novels per month to get ahead again.

I also want to try once again the craziness of Stories from July in July, so no novels that month because I will be firing at 31 short stories again.

So with looking at all that, here is how I figured the real world could combine with a reasonable writing schedule to get me through the rest of the year.


— Finish Death Takes a Partner by May 15th

— Finish a new novel by June 1st

— Finish a new novel by June 15th

— Finish a new novel by June 30th.

— 31 short stories in July.

— Finish a new novel by August 15th

— Finish a new novel by September 1st

— Finish a new novel by September 15th

— Finish a new novel by October 1st.

— October has both some travel, since I will be a keynote speaker at a conference plus teaching for a week at the Master Class here, so one new novel in October.

— One new novel in November.

— One new novel in December.

Summary of Schedule

Eleven novels between now and January 1st, plus the short stories in July. Actually a pretty reasonable schedule for me.

If this seems excessive, just do the math.

Most of my novels are around 50,000 words, maybe less. So in 15 days I need to average over 3,000 words a day. (In July I will average more than that with the short stories.)

It takes me about three hours of writing to do 3,000 words on average, more in the opening of a novel, less later in the book.

So if I make myself get to my writing computer by 12:30 to 1 a.m. or so every night, I’ll be fine.  Anything written earlier will be a bonus.

Also, I have had many, many months in the last few years of doing this well beyond 100,000 words of fiction, so this isn’t breaking any new ground anywhere with that either.

Issues With This Plan

There are always the unforeseen issues that arise, but I can’t worry about them, just deal with them as they arise.

But issues I can see are schedule disruption. That is a killer for me these days. Things like jury duty and getting up in the middle of my night just knock me for a loop for a few days afterwards. So I need to focus on controlling my schedule as much as life will allow me to do so.

Travel and workshops. I have worked both of those into the schedule. Both are in October. Both will knock me off my schedule, so I planned for that.

Those, at the moment are the only two things I can see that will derail this, but again, the unforeseen reality of events of the world will hit at times I am sure.

And I want to take days to go play and see movies and things like that. But I think this schedule builds that in just fine as well.

So we shall see.

Plan Your Year Now

There is a real reason to plan your writing year like I just did right now. The time of great forgetting is coming up fast. Plan the writing, plan the activities like a workshop or reading that will get you from here to August with a focus on writing and words done.

A main reason I just did this tonight is because of the new store. I love playing with collectables and if I let myself, that’s all I would do for the next three months and then regret it in August.

So I’m set with real deadlines.

Join the fun. Set your deadlines to get through this coming three months and to the end of the year.

You’ll be happy you did.

Now, here I go. Right out here in public. If nothing else, this might be interesting to watch. (grin)


The Writing of Death Takes a Partner: A Mary Jo Assassin Novel

Day 1.. 2,100 words.   Total words so far… 2,100 words.
Day 2.. 4,400 words.  Total words so far… 6,500 words.
Day 3.. 4,200 words.  Total words so far… 10,700 words.
Day 4.. 2,150 words.  Total words so far… 12,850 words.
Day 5.. 2,200 words.  Total words so far… 15,500 words.
Day 6.. 2,050 words.  Total words so far… 17,550 words.


Totals For Year 3, Month 9, Day 28

Writing in Public blog streak… Day 953

— Daily Fiction: 00 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 24,100 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 1,800 words 

— Blog Posts: 900 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 17,900 words

— E-mail: 12 e-mails. Approx. 400 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 541 e-mails. Approx. 36,200 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 1 Covers


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  • Vera Soroka

    I’ve been struggling with getting books that I have already written out. There are 7 novels and some short story collections waiting for me to get them out but I’m so slow when it comes to edits. They need to be gone through for mistakes. What I should do is hand them off to a fast reader and let them do it. Then all I would have to do is make the corrections then but I don’t know anybody. So, that leaves me. I do have a goal of getting them all out by the end of June. July is when I want to move forward with the writing of new stuff plus working in art time for my coloring books. So, a busy summer is planned and onward to the end of the year. I’m going to try editing while I write so that I don’t have this problem of going back over a novel. I don’t like it. We’ll see what happens.

  • Patrick R

    Hi Dean

    Interesting! How do those deadlines, etc, fit and correlate with needs, agreements, etc of WMG?

    Did you reference them first in setting this? If so, did you bring it all forward so there is enough buffer/slack in your running order never to clash with WMG deadlines?

    And, has this zilch to do with the choice of what to write, the creative choices etc. It is about creating opportunities – with buffers built in – that allows you to sit down and write into the dark each and every time? Creativity is not pre-set. Books are not chosen in advance. Only deadlines?

    Look forward to hearing!


    • dwsmith

      WMG doesn’t set a schedule until they have a book in their hand, so no pressure from that side at all. I tend to get ahead of them anyhow, which is the problem at the moment which they are working to cure quickly.

      And nope, no creative deadline set at all, just production. No idea what any of those books will be. I would never set creative because I would then just not do it.

  • Marsha

    With July dedicated to short fiction and the remainder of the year for novels, does this mean that you do not mix writing the two forms of fiction? In other words, do you write short fiction while you are in the middle of a novel?

    I am currently taking the short story workshop and I find that I cannot do both, so I have suspended my WIP until I finish the workshop. I would like to produce at least one short a week so I can practice different aspects of the craft, but I seem to be able to focus on only one project at a time. Is there a trick to producing both, or is it as simple as saying, “This week I do short stories, next week I’m back to my WIP novel…”

    • dwsmith

      At times I do both. Totally depends on deadlines for short stories for me. But I can do both at the same basic time, but kind of like this new schedule. The deadlines match my thinking. Always look for ways that match your own thinking. Forcing a schedule never seems to work for long.

      • Patrick R

        “Match your thinking”. Ooh, that’s interesting. There could be a lot in that…say more!