Creating a writing timeline

Today is one of those rare days where I have finished work early. The winter sky is still bright but gloomy, there’s a cup of hot drink in my hand and I have about 6 hours left of the day.

I’ve decided to draw up a schedule for the second draft of my book. I know that when I have no pressure and deadline for a project, I could work on it for hours and hours without progressing anywhere.

When I wrote the first draft for this soon-to-be book, I was able to finish it in eight weeks, because I told myself I was going to enter it into a writing competition, which I did.

Now that I have no looming deadline in place, my writing has slowed down. There is less of a frantic rush towards the finish line and when it comes to contemplating whether to watch TV or write, TV always wins.

I got a little kick in the butt over the weekend for my complacency when I realised that someone important to me didn’t believe that I could finish writing a book. It brought me back to those old days when I was called out for being naive and dumb for no particular reason. Not a pleasant feeling.

Anyway, I don’t like dwelling over unproductive thoughts like those, so the only thing I can do is put my head down and keep at it.

What I’ve learnt from writing the first draft is it’s important to map out the key stages in the writing process and set a deadline for each stage. That way I know what I am working towards and can see if I am making any progress.

Here is a rough outline of my writing schedule for the second draft of my soon-to-be book.

Writing timeline for second draft (Rough draft)

  • Complete rewritten outline: July 15
  • Complete ending: July 30
  • Complete events leading up to ending: August 15
  • Complete climax: August 30
  • Complete hook: September 15

Within each of these stages, there are roughly 3 chapters that I need to rewrite, (so twelve chapters in total). I’m currently plotting them out in a calendar, so will have that ready by tomorrow.

Writing the second draft ~ doubts and indecision

I’ve begun writing the second draft of my novel and I am plagued with doubts and indecision.

Most of the time it feels like there’s a gremlin sitting on my shoulder critiquing everything I write.

The main reason why I find this story particularly difficult, is because I haven’t figured out the right tone of voice.

Shall I make it sound realistic, with a touch of magical realism, or should I go all out and make it fantasy?

Who am I writing it for? Children? teens? or adults?

Thinking like this gets me nowhere and I end up going round and round in circles for hours with nothing to show.

I think the reason why I’m so critical of my writing is because I’m afraid to address the root of the issue: What if nobody likes my story? What if nobody reads it?

And so I try to write to please an imaginary audience.

Obviously, it’s not working.

Going back to the humble origins of the story

This story began as an ending. I wrote the last few paragraphs first, spontaneously while in bed, and forgot about it for a few months.

It wasn’t until lockdown that I took it out and reread it. What struck me about it, was its simplicity; a few paragraphs that said a lot. That was the tone I wanted to capture.

Now that I think about it, what I didn’t like about the first draft was how dramatic it had become; overly exaggerated storylines, unnecessary characters, like I was trying too hard. It lost its tone of simplicity and didn’t have the same sparkling effect it first had.

So I think I will work backwards. Start from the point of certainty, and branch out from there.