Writer’s Math

This is really for the writers out there, folks who might appreciate how we literary types do math. I have a book that must have–let’s say–13 chapters of twenty to twenty-five pages each. I have been plotting out the story and writing scenes and have a very rough draft. Now it is time to make the book happen. That means shaping the scenes and making sense of what turns out to be a rather vague plot. But no matter. This is how I write and this is where it gets confusing.

I must edit (and write) a chapter a day. I have two weeks. That means I have a couple extra days at the end to polish my edited (and completed) manuscript. Not a problem. Well, it is. That’s not enough time but no matter. This is how I write.

Day 1 – Write Chapter 1. And I almost do it. But I need part of day 2.

Day 2 – Finish Chapter 1 and start Chapter 2. I start chapter 2. Barely.

Day 3 – Write chapter 2 and chapter 3. I never finish chapter 2.

Day 4 – Should be on chapter 4 but am just finishing 2 and about to start 3.

Day 5 – Writing chapter 3. Reach chapter 4 and thinking I’m catching up. Go to bed feeling good.

Day 6 – Write fast and furiously all day and part of night. Go to bed elated. We are almost at the end of chapter 6. Right on schedule. Woo-wee. Feeling fine. Take your time. Grooving to the cruising.

Day 7 – Wake up, read chapters 5 and 6 and they don’t really sound very good. In fact, they sound very bad. Go back read chapter 4. Mmmm, there’s a problem here. Go back to 3. Where is the problem? What is the problem? Try to write on chapter 7 but can’t get fingers to move on keyboard. Problems seem to be sprouting up everywhere. Spend day pacing and trying to figure out how to fix problems.

Day 8 – Spend day rewriting chapters 4, 5, and 6. It’s going to be okay. Have it in control.

Day 9 – Problems are worse. Book is a disater. Editor will never buy it. Or will buy it after gut-wrenching revisions. Private straight talk with self: you must do gut-wrenching revisions now, before it’s too late. Editor needs to think you’re clever and professional. Can’t turn in crap.

Day 10 – Start book over at chapter 1. Don’t think about only having four days left before deadline. Write chapter 1 all day.

Day 11 – Write chapter 2 all day.

Day 12 – Still working on chapter 2. Take break to eat boys’ Easter candy and write blog entry. It’s going to be okay. This is just the writing process.

Eat some more candy.

And eat some more candy.

Then go to bed. Because tomorrow is another day. And no, not day 13. We’re not using the old calendar coutdown anymore. It’s too stressful. We’ll just call it New Day…#1.

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