Finish Your Book: 7 Steps to Creating a Schedule

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Do you find that your unfinished book just sits undone, unread and unloved? Has your book been sitting undone for months or years? If you want to get your book finished and available for someone to read, try putting yourself on a schedule. Creating a schedule will help you meet your writing goals and stay committed. Below are seven steps you can take to create the structure you need to help you finish your book.

Set a pub date: A pub date is the date your book is released to the world. One way to choose a pub date is to think of a holiday or a historical event that is significant to you or your book, such as a birthday or an anniversary. Choosing a significant date will help you stay motivated. Keep in mind that if your book is a textbook that you want a school to consider adopting, you’ll want to release it before teachers begin the school year, so they have the option to consider buying it for their classes. Setting a pub date will help you schedule a beginning and an end for your manuscript. This provides you with the structure needed to complete your book rather than allowing the writing process to drag on for years.

Set a start date: Once you set your pub date, back track to a start date for when you plan to begin writing. Give yourself at least 60 to 90 days to write and rewrite your first draft. If you find yourself too overwhelmed or too busy to start, consider going on a retreat or going to a quiet space with few distractions. Day one of your stay can become day one of your writing schedule. As you create your schedule, remember to keep vacation dates, your child’s school activities, church events, or anything that you do occasionally or on a regular basis, in mind. You want your schedule to sync with your daily life so that you can write and still keep up with everything going on in your life.

Set aside time to write: Get specific about how much time you have to write. How many hours per day can you commit to writing? How many days per week? If picking up a good rhythm for writing is an issue, you can try practicing everyday by keeping a journal. If you are having trouble typing consistently, try using The Most Dangerous Writing App, which forces you to write without stopping. If you stop while using the app, your work is deleted.

Set dates for your editor: Plan to block off a certain amount of time for editing. Allow at least 2-3 weeks for copyediting or 4-6 weeks if you find that developmental editing is needed. For proofreading, you should allow 1-2 weeks or longer depending on the complexity of the manuscript and number of pages.

Set up alerts: Block out time on your calendar by setting up alarms. Project management apps such as AirTable and Asana can help you track each segment of what you want to write about each day. For example, if you are writing a chapter on ancient practices of the Mayan civilization, focus on one practice rather than tackling all of them at once. Writing a little each day can reduce burn out and frustration. You can even block off time for researching topics that need more development.

Set up a writing space: You can set up a writing space in your home, or find a quiet area at a local coffee shop during off-peak hours. You may even rent a room at your local library or church.

Finally, use checklists to remind yourself of important tasks needing completion. For example, you should remind yourself to cite all your sources, fact check a few details or look for a cover designer. Insert dates for when you will complete each task. Try creating a checklist using your phone or print one and post it on your refrigerator, the mirror in your bathroom, or hang it near your desk.

Writing a book is a daunting task, but creating a schedule will help you get it done. Remember, you are only one schedule away from finishing your book. Get writing!

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