Keeping schedule

11 months ago | Stable (Member)

How do you guys keep to schedule?

I've been trying to write MWF, but yesterday I had a brainfart and didn't connect the day with the fact that I needed (you know, for a given value of need) to write my latest episode. It's not the end of the world, I made it up today instead, but those of you who hit every week without fail, how do you manage? Does anyone hit every week, or do you stuff up every so often, and if you do does it matter?

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Responses

  1. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 11 months ago

    I treat it as a job. I wake up, and I write. I think about writing when I'm not writing. And before bed, I write some more. 1k to 1500 words a day, without fail. I could do three times that, I have before, but not if I want to maintain cohesion and story focus. Freeform is fun, but it takes a bit more focus for something meant to be presentable as a novel in its own right. I've never missed three updates a week, and have done four updates on occasion.

    Save for a couple weeks ago. Where my water stopped working, a tree fell down, and my uncle died. Yeah. That is what it took to force me to "miss" an update.

    I put that in quotes because at the time I had a full week of buffer. Now I'm down to 4 days of buffer. I'm working hard to get back up to a full week, but there's where I currently sit.

    But you do have to treat it like a job in order to be productive. Allow yourself to get complacent with failure, and you'll continue to fail.

    Author of Price.
  2. Dary (Member)

    Posted 11 months ago

    I ditched the idea of releasing something every week to focus on driving up the quality of what I do release. Since I collect chapters into episodes, I can just serialise them when they're ready.

    I'd rather spend time getting something right than rush things out half-finished. Sometimes you nail it on the first or second draft, but most of the time it takes more.

  3. DrewHayes (Member)

    Posted 11 months ago

    To answer your question in parts-

    How to update every week:

    Different people on here try different methods. I know Jim does his updates as the deadlines arrive and he manages to hit his deadlines, and he's far from the only one who uses that method. Speaking for myself, I swear by the buffer method. What I'm posting at any given time is usually 1-2 months behind where I've written. That way I have lots of time to prep, edit, and alter chapters before they go live, adding in any necessary details to support later parts as well. Building a buffer can be something of a chore though, and keeping it up requires just as much writing as meeting your normal deadlines. It's not for everyone, but it's served me well.

    Does updating on schedule matter?:

    Again, you may get some differing of opinions, but I'd say it absolutely matters. I've often referred to this as a contract with the readers: they show up at a specified time, and you agree to have something new for them to look at. Breaking that contract isn't the end of the world, but it does erode the trust that you'll continue to produce content, and that trust is pretty important. With all the serials that get scrapped or abandoned, plenty of readers are hesitant to get invested in something if they don't know it will last, so they need to trust you'll keep going. Plus, consistent updates are one of the best ways to grow your readership over the long-term. Again, life happens, and our readers are people who understand that, so it's not the end of the world to miss one. From my own experience, however, I would say that consistent updating is something to really work for in terms of how it will impact your site.

    Super Powereds & Corpies
    http://www.DrewHayesNovels.com/
  4. Psycho Gecko (Member)

    Posted 11 months ago

    That contract thing is pretty important. Once people aren't sure if there's going to be anything for them on time, they're likely to not show up, and I say that as reader. In my case, I have been late before, at most by a few hours, but I've never outright missed an update.

    I update twice weekly; how often a week matters, especially when paired with how much each update is. It's important not to bite off more than you can chew as far as how much you're writing.

    In my case, I've sometimes been able to manage getting back to a buffer, and it helps to have times when you're inspired, but when you just need it done, you have to get it done. I will say it helps to get the basic stuff done for that update. The absolute essentials that you need to convey. Then you can go back in and expand things, add more character, all that mess. If you know that you've got something big coming up, push yourself a bit more to get things done ahead of time. Luckily, I haven't had the same sorts of crises that others have had.

  5. TheAdamBo (Member)

    Posted 11 months ago

    I used to have the same problem, which is why I stopped writing as I went, and started finishing the entire book before uploading the first chapter. Then I just read one chapter ahead of my updates, making little edits wherever I need them.

    My Fiction is Fantastic, Fabulous, Freaky, and FREE! Check it out on BolanderBooks: http://www.bolanderbooks.com
  6. Walter (Member)

    Posted 11 months ago

    I'm another voice speaking for 'buffer' patterns. I try and keep a week (2 updates) ahead. I've occasionally fallen back to doing it day-of, and struggled to get my buffer back again.

    One missed update isn't a big deal, just don't let it be a pattern.

  7. ubersoft (Member)

    Posted 11 months ago

    But if it is a pattern, don't let that convince you to stop!

    I know writers (and other writers, actually -- webcartoonists also have this problem) who were so hung up on missing deadlines that they just quit in despair. Missing deadlines makes it harder to keep/attract audiences -- I know this from intimate personal experience :-) -- but it doesn't make it impossible. Quitting the writing gig because you're not hitting the schedule you want guarantees that nobody will read anything at all.

    Curveball (Updating)
    A Rake by Starlight (Updating)
  8. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 11 months ago

    I don't know how I manage. I used to have a buffer, but now - two years after the start of the serial - I find I do better without. What works for me is trying to write a tiny little bit (500 words) every day. Some days I can't write anything at all that isn't horrendously bad, so I stop and compensate on other days.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  9. Walter (Member)

    Posted 11 months ago

    @ubersoft

    Yeah, that's true. It is important to remember why you are making stuff. Little is better than none, yeah?

  10. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 11 months ago

    Alright - I'm going to speak as a writer on the other side of this fence, aka somebody who hasn't updated since last November (snort that grain of salt, guys): the importance of keeping a schedule, not keeping a schedule, missing an update, creating a buffer, and all of that depends on what you're actually trying to get out of your serial.

    When I read what people say about their work here, on Reddit, Scribophile, WattPad, and other places I can't think of right now, the focus is constantly on building an audience. Whenever someone touches on the impact of missing a deadline, it's phrased in terms of reader backlash or drop off. A lot of the fun things we do as a community, like the April Fools swaps and just linking to each other, or even those review trades that I just so utterly loathe on a personal level, are geared towards expanding readership.

    Now that's fine, but when everybody says 'consistency is king', it leaves out the people who have any goals that differ from audience building, to the point that you get - like @ubersoft said - people freezing because they think they've failed the 'basic' part of a serial, so they stop. For those writers who just want to finish something, for those working towards an e-book, for those who know they aren't going to be 'stuck' with just this one story, it's content. Content is the king. Everyone's real goal, even if they bury it under a lens of deadlines/speed, is to put up a finished project. Through sheer persistence (and editing, and development), you'll get an audience that grows with you from one project to the next. If you're going the consistent schedule route, those 'projects' are the individual chapters. For the e-book route, the finished project is the serial altogether. Two big extremes, and two completely opposite ends of the same Complete Your Content mission.

    The big thing here is that you have take the trade-offs. If you don't keep to a certain pace, you can't whine that you don't have a flood of readers checking in every minute. In the long run, you might do great, but in little snapshots, you're going to see the full force of traffic spikes. But if you're prepared to accept that because hey, the important thing is just completing the content, you'll learn different methods. Thunderclaps are a good one, where your subscription channels ring the bells on those special occasions that you've done it. Natural conversation about techniques with other writers helps a lot, too.

    Like @ubersoft and @Walter said, get something out even if you aren't hitting your deadlines, 'cause when we look back on what we've written five years from now, no new reader's gonna come in saying, "HEY I NOTICED A BIG GAP OF ACTIVITY DURING THESE POINTS WHAT'S THE DEAL."

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.
  11. Dary (Member)

    Posted 11 months ago

    I assume things must depend on the type of story you're writing, or the sort of people who are reading it, because I have never noticed a drop in readership due to breaks or delays. At the end of story arcs, yes. Because I missed a week or four? No. Just looking at raw numbers, I'd say 75% of my audience are binge readers who only pop by evey month or two. Releasing chapters to a precise, down-to-the-second schedule doesn't matter to them, and I'm not going to cause myself undue stress and potentially compromise on quality just to apease a minority of readers who demand a constant flow of content. And if they're that invested in the story, one assumes they'll stick around.

    I mean, nobody expects a band to release a new song every week, or TV shows to have 52 episode seasons.

  12. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 11 months ago

    It's a truism of life that it's easier to do things when you're already doing that thing.

    It's easiest to be fit when you're already fit and exercising.
    It's easiest to eat healthy when you're already making good food choices.
    It's easiest to save money when you're already budgeting and setting money aside.

    In this fashion, it's easiest to stay on schedule when you're already on schedule.

    The backlog is what gets you over the initial humps and missteps. In my case, by the time the backlog depleted (took six months) the habit was well ingrained.

    If I were to back down and cut the number of updates I release in half, I would find it harder to write, not easier. If I took a vacation, I would find the stress and strain of getting back into the swing of things to outweigh the benefits of the vacation. Being in that mindset, staying in it, and having the mindset ready at hand (at brain?) makes it easy to just instinctively know I have a chapter due. It's at the point where I've long stopped going "Is it a writing day" and then answer myself "It's a monday, and I write MWF, so yes." and now am at the point where I think "Is it a monday?" and then tell myself "I write today, and I just had a weekend break, so yes."

    Tues & Sat chapters up without fail since mid-2011. Thurs chapters get delivered without fail as well, but I shuffle them around and delay as circumstances dictate.

  13. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 11 months ago

    @ Tartra Just curious, what do you get out of the experience of posting updates online when the goal is to complete the story rather than building an audience? Wouldn't it be easier to finish the novel offline at your own pace, then post updates when you're done?

    Edit: Wildbow! The guy who inspired me to never miss an update. You've been missed. :)

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  14. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 11 months ago

    @Chrysalis - Absolutely not. When I'm offline, my head changes from "Write this scene, and now this scene, and now this scene after that," to "Write the entire story." The serial format turns every chapter into an individual accomplishment that gets 'formally' published for the world to see. It's way more in reach than that vague goal of 'finish it all at once lol' I'd give myself. One of those is going to have me writing slowly, and the other is going to be me ragequitting because, "Screw it, what's the point."

    @Wildbow - The best way for me to realize I'm badly off-schedule is to see just how far off I go trying to keep any schedule at all. The first step is admitting it, and once I do, I start finally start to establish those proper habits.

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.

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