I’ve finally made it back to my old proven working schedule, writing before I do anything else in the morning, and I’ve already written almost half of my target word count for the day. I guess the proven schedule really does work, as much as I hate it.
I write in an application called Scrivener. It’s designed primarily for fiction writers and has a lot of fun little functions I’m still discovering. One thing I like is that it works like a binder where you can keep all documents relating to a project, so research notes, character lists, etc., are all in one handy place. You can put each scene in a separate document and the software compiles it all into one Word document when it’s done (it’s a pain to write in separate documents in Word). While you’re drafting, it’s easy to jump to other parts of the book if you need to fix something, and it’s easy to move scenes around. There’s a spot on each document where you can write notes about what the scene’s about, and there’s a mode in which you can see those notes as notecards, which helps for plotting. You can lay out the scenes you know by writing on the notecards, then go back and actually write the scenes.
One of my favorite features is the project tracker. There’s a little window you can bring up where you enter your target word count and target daily word count, and it shows your progress. The bar starts as red, gradually turns orange, then a yellowish color, and gradually turns bright green as you near your goal. Or you can set a target word count and a deadline and which days of the week you plan to write, and it will calculate how many words you need to write a day to hit that deadline. It recalculates if you go over or under your daily target. One of the great joys in writing life is going over one day and then opening the application the next morning to see that the daily target has gone down. It’s a great motivator to do just a little more. The closer you get to the deadline, the bigger the impact going over (or under) the daily target has because it’s spread over fewer days.
I also like that there’s a quick reference panel you can bring up without leaving the document you’re in. I use that for a character list. When I come up with a character, that person’s name and any vital info I need to remember go in the list. Then it’s easy to check when that character appears again and I need to be sure of his name and how to spell it or if I need to remember something like a character’s sister’s name that was only mentioned offhand once earlier in the book.
You can put pictures in the documents, too—not to appear in the final compilation, but showing up in the notes on the side. There are places to put reference photos in the binder, and there are character and location sheets where you can put photos, but if something is critical to a scene and you need to refer to it frequently while writing the scene, you can put it in the notes for that document.
Today I’ve already watched my daily tracker turn yellow, and the project tracker has gone from red to orange. My daily target word count is dropping gradually. It’s already below my usual daily output, so I feel like I might be able to draft this book this month. Then again, I haven’t hit the dreaded middle slump yet. So far, I’m still getting scenes in my head every night and am just having to transcribe them the next morning.