Author Journal 29th March – 4th April 2021

closeup photo of journal book and pencils

Welcome to my first public author journal. I’ve been doing these for my own eyes for about a year now and have found them invaluable in helping me to conquer my writing to-do list.

This method is pretty simple, and I’ve used it to tackle many non-writing tasks and projects with great success. I start with a review of the previous week—the goal(s), how I felt I did, what worked, what didn’t—then it’s into the goals for the upcoming week, and finally a quick assigning of tasks to days.

I think this works for me because I’ve got a set of goals to accomplish for the day/week. I love crossing things off my list, and with each completed task, I’m motivated to get the next done etc.

Review 22nd – 28th March 2021

My writing goals for last week were:

  • Complete the second half of the basic outline for Amy and Kelvin’s story, Out in the Cold
  • Read Working the Asset (DU#1) index card outline and make notes
  • Get the first four pages of the worksheet done for DU#1 (The worksheet is a freebie from my favourite writing instructor, H. R. D’Costa. I’m using it to clarify the changes from readthrough notes)

How Do I Think It Went?

Ooft, I didn’t think I was going to complete everything on the list. The week started slow, and even though I was kind to myself by setting pretty small goals for the first half of the week (Tues and Weds are my days off from fiction writing), I struggled to meet them.

On Thursday, I forced myself to focus and upped my goals a bit. On Friday, I did a bit more than I’d aimed for and managed the same again on Saturday. And then, on Sunday, I went all out and met my fantasy version of what I could accomplish in a week: Complete the worksheet (18 pgs) for DU#1.

I’m ecstatic with how it all went, and I even learned a few things about setting up my tasks for a more productive week.

Problems

Neen–the inner chimp in an orangutan costume

The reason I was kind to myself at the start of the week wasn’t all down to my days off. It was down to the fact that I knew DU#1 and its issues were looming. I know this for a fact because when my inner chimp—Neen—is scared of something, she’ll come up with anything to distract me for as long as possible. Think random cleaning, getting angry about politics (looking at you Scottish Twitter), or remember that script we wrote fifteen years ago.

What Changed?

Once I’d completed the basic outline for Out in the Cold, and I’d finally started reading the 30,000+ words of DU#1, I realised that although there are issues with the story, they weren’t anywhere close to the level Neen had blown them up to be.
I took a deep breath, checked my entertainment journal* for when I was last working on the story, and put on some Ludovico Einaudi. I sat down with an old honey jar filled with chamomile and rhubarb and custard tea, and I got to work.

*An entertainment journal is H. R. D’Costa’s creation. It’s a catalogue of movies, TV shows, books, and music you consume as you write a specific story. It’s a way of tapping back into the work after a break, and it can also help you narrow down the culprit if you discover any tone tampering in the work. FYI: tone tampering is where you find that your super-serious historical story suddenly has jokes that are more fitting for Another Period.

This Week’s Goals

  • Complete Story Structure Organiser pages 5 – 28

I’d love to blast through the whole workbook in a week, but that isn’t even close to being a realistic goal. Getting to page 28 done will be tough; there’s a lot of work in those pages, but I plan to use what I learned from last week (slow build-up) to keep Neen from getting distraction-y.

The Schedule

MondayPages 5-7
TuesdayDay off/blog post (the one you’re reading right now)
WednesdayDay off/blog post for craft site (braithwaitecrafts.com)
ThursdayPages 8-11
FridayPages 12 – 16
SaturdayPages 17 – 21
SundayPages 22 – 28

How do you get your to-do list done? Does this method work for you, or does it make you not even want to start? Leave your hints, tips, and thoughts in the comments.

Well, it’s time for me to sign off; it is my day off 🥳. We’ve got The Man in the Iron Mask set up and some snacks waiting. Thanks for stopping by, and take care.

Susan

Author: Susan T. Braithwaite

Royal Navy veteran from Scotland. My journey into writing started with a screenwriting certificate program at UCLA Ext. Since then, I've worked as a freelance content writer, erotica author, proofreader, professional beta reader, and content editor. I'm now working hard on my dream writing career: romantic suspense author. When I'm not writing, I can be found drinking too much coffee, obsessing over yarn, and planning world domination with my husband, jezbraithwaite.blog, and our squirrel army.​

5 thoughts on “Author Journal 29th March – 4th April 2021”

  1. This all sounds very positive, Susan! So detailed. I always mean to do something like this for NaNoWriMo to remind myself how it went. It lasts about a week. But it would be so helpful to refer to in those Dark Moments of Doubt. You know the ones I mean.
    But I do keep a constant ‘to do’ list for everything I need to remember which works in tandem with my diary. I have done this for years. There’s no specific work plan for my novels apart from a spreadsheet with notes about each chapter and other random notes, several notebooks (on my desk, by my bed, in my bag) and, a new edition this year, a white board for a mind-map which grows and shrinks and grows again. I aim to write a chapter of about 1500- 1800 words each week after the initial NaNo blitz. That’s it. It’s worked for me, so far.
    Going to mosey over to your craft page now…

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    1. It’s taken me years to finally get organised and to, you know, actually take action on the dreaded list.
      It sounds like you’ve found your method and that you’ve mastered the mind-map. Mine always grows; never shrinks. Ever.
      I love your writing aims! I always see writers stating that they aim to get 2K-10K done each day–non-NaNo. Your goals are realistic and sane–to me. I can already feel my stress levels decreasing.
      Thanks for sharing your method 🤩 (Thanks for the craft site visit!)

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