Happy Insecure Writer’s Support Group day! The first one in the first month of the brand-new year, which even sounds hopeful and exciting.

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The co-hosts entrusted with this important start are Tyrean MartinsonEllen @ The Cynical Sailor (I personally feel like she and The Ninja Librarian could be friends) Megan Morgan, Jennifer Lane and Rachna Chhabria.

The question for this shiny new month of January is:

What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

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actual footage of me, running away from more New Year’s resolutions

When it comes to steps and plans and all manner of pre-thought out schedules I suffer from the curse of being a scatterbrain. Whatever the opposite of a Type A personality is, that type is me.

Thirty years of bouncing around like a pinball, with accompanying head trauma, has taught me that life goes more smoothly when I make plans though. For any other pantsers out there reading; outlining works. It sucks, but it really does work.

Just for the IWSG and the lessons life has taught me, here are my ten steps to schedule the writing in 2018. Sometime soon being published will get thrown into the mix, so it’s not added to these steps yet because I don’t know what steps go into publishing.

Step 1: Panic. There is SO MUCH that I need to be doing, right now, I know how to do none of it, every other author on earth has already figured this out, and I should have writing classes under my belt before I even try to start attempting a story. (Or, you know, any writing experience at all, which agents can somehow smell that I don’t have from my emails.) This step takes several hours, at periodic intervals, and includes time set aside for whimpering in the corner.

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Step 2: Buckle Down. Ignore my own common sense, plant butt in chair, and write. This is a daily step, with the goal of hitting around 1,000 words, and it takes as long as it takes with three kids in the house.

Step 3: Buckle Down Some More. Everything from laundry to errands to researching marketing for authors will try to intrude, so I have to set that 1,000 word goal in stone and pretty much glue myself to the chair.

Step 4: Query a Finished Product. So far the most painful part of the process. Writing the damn query letter takes anywhere from three to five days, and researching agents takes even longer. When it gets too frustrating, I take a break and write a sarcastic blog post with fun memes. That’s another day.

Step 5: Be Rejected By Every Agent, Ever. Most agents take four to eight weeks to reply with their rejection so this part takes the rest of your life, with the occasional random rejection coming in just to brighten up the day when you’ve moved on to another project.

Step 6: Profanity. This one is pretty self-explanatory? It takes about an hour.

Step 7: Acceptance in Some Form. For me it was getting a novella manuscript accepted by eXtasy Books for ebook publication, but I think the different forms for this step are pretty much endless.

Step 8: Panic. The first round of edits from the editor are back and they feel ruthless. I thought I had no idea what I was doing and it turns out I was right.

Step 9: Profanity. It makes me feel better. Also, it’s cheaper and healthier than stress eating and alcohol.

Step 10: Buckle Down. The editor is right, the manuscript is actually looking much better with the changes. If they thought I couldn’t touch good writing with a long pole they would have said so (they’re that honest, those editors) and somehow I now feel like I have a decent story. In addition to editing I buckle down to get some work done on the other ideas bashing me upside the head in the middle of the night.

There you have it, the ten steps to making a practical writing schedule for a naturally ditzy sort of person. I’ll need to add a few more steps when being published happens. Or, you could just take pity on me and throw a few hints about your own publishing steps in the comments. I would be grateful to know how much more profanity to expect, for instance.

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