Overplan, but be reasonable

Here’s an unpopular opinion: It’s better to plan more work for a week than you think you can get done.

I know that’s going to horrify some people, but there’s a reason for it, I promise. Part of it is connected to what I said last week–about how plans are flexible and adaptable. If you go into this with the assumption that plans are rigid and inflexible, and that you’re failing if you don’t get everything on a list done in a given week or month, you’re sure to fail.

A lot of people recommend planning small, reasonable amounts of work each week. While everyone works differently, one thing I have found reliably true is that if you set a wide window for a small project, it will expand to fill that time, leaving you nothing left over. Sure, you’re not crunching to get things done, but you’re also not pushing your limits and learning new, more efficient ways to accomplish things. I can give myself a two hour window in the morning to barely hit my goal of 750 words, or I can back myself into a corner where I must get it done in the last half-hour before bed and land pretty close to it every time.

Having less time to devote to something adds urgency. It doesn’t have to add stress, so long as you realize that if you don’t hit a goal or a deadline, it’s not the end of the world. The tasks on your to-do list are like the days of unused phone minutes. They don’t have to expire. Sometimes, they rollover instead. The important part is just keeping it on your calendar. I write it down for this week because I’d like to get it done, but if I don’t get to it, it’s okay. It’ll get done eventually, and eventually it’ll build its own urgency, just because you’re sick of looking at that thing on your to-do list.

This week's word counts

It’s sometimes hard to apply that mentality. I know most of what I intend to do has no fixed deadline, but the closer I can get to meeting my self-imposed deadlines, the better. I definitely intend to revise my plans and deadlines for my writing projects this year, because with the looming move, I’m way overbooked. If I didn’t spend half the day doing home repairs and packing, I could probably effectively juggle finishing two books at the same time. But I can’t, so that will need some food for thought, possibly sooner rather than later. I had planned to revise the way I approach things at the end of March, but I may revise them at the end of January instead–or even at the end of this week. Although I’m having fun writing Spectrum Blade and it’s inching forward at a decent pace, I probably need to prioritize Serpent’s Tears and the other books that I intend to see published next year.

Word counts for this week:
Monday: 900 (Spectrum Blade), 406 (Serpent’s Tears)
Tuesday: 846 (Spectrum Blade), 316 (Serpent’s Tears)
Wednesday: 363 (Spectrum Blade), 680 (Serpent’s Tears)
Thursday: 681
Friday: 940
Saturday: 600
Sunday: 334

Total for Spectrum Blade: 4,664
Total for Serpent’s Tears: 1,402

Grand total: 6,066

Editing progress this week:
Just that additional content for chapter one in the word counts mentioned above. Yikes.

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