Creative Chronicles of a Writing Drummer

The Plan…

Okay, so I sat down and began defining my writing goals using the techniques James Scott Bell put forth in one of his books.  What I really like about his approach is it incorporates elements of study, so you get a break from just writing, writing, writing.  That’s not to say I don’t write; I do… every day now.

Here is the list of Goals and associated plans I wrote down:

I will complete one chapter per week until the 31st of December, 2012 (either written from scratch or edited)

I chose this goal over the standard number of words per week (which James recommends) because as I’m in a revision state of mind and it seemed logical to focus on the outcome being the completion of a chapter. As you can see it says, “either written from scratch or edited”, that’s because I’m also creating new chapters/scenes for characters I hadn’t originally written. So, alongside the standard revision there’s a lot of new stuff that’s being written… confused? So am I… and I think that’s one the reasons I attributed pain to the writing process and avoided it.

I will complete Strategem by 31st December, 2012

Pretty straight forward; that’s my overall deadline for the completion of my book. That’s true completion by the way; ready to be published…

I will spend two Hours/week studying the Craft of Writing until December 31st – Editing/Structure (James Scott Bell)

This is what I love about James’ approach to self discipline and goal setting; it incorporates elements of study. Reading books dedicated to my craft was often one of the methods I used to procrastinate. Not anymore. Now I CAN read those books, and learn, but whilst I’m writing. By the way, all of this is calendarised, so I can’t deviate. More on that later.

I will read one book per month in the Action Thriller genre

This seemed logical, but again I used the reading of books as a means of procrastination – oh, I can’t possibly find the time to write my own book, I’m too busy reading someone else’s. At James’ advice I went on-line and searched for all the books which were in the same genre as my own (Psychological Thriller). The list of books below were those considered at the top of the list by many websites, and those I hadn’t yet read. You’ll note that I’ve marked each book with a month… like I mentioned above, all of this is calendarised!

July – James Patterson’s Along Came a Spider

August – Lee Child’s One Shot

September – Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon

October – Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs

November – Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley

December – Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game

One of the important things James recommends, particularly as these books are meant to be read with a writer’s head on, is to learn from them! He recommends the writer create Highlights and notes from each book (what was done/written well), apply the techniques to my current work in progress, and create my own writing exercises to practice what I’m learning. I love that stuff as there’s such a strong element of study and learning. It’s not just reading for reading’s sake; it’s all part of the learning process.

I should mention that all of these books have been bought and downloaded to my iPad/Kindle app so taking notes  and highlights is really easy.I will watch one movie per month in the Action Thriller GenreAgain I used the watching of movies on the train on the way to and from work as a way of avoiding writing. Now, by James’ recommendation, I can integrate my love of watching movies into my weekly/monthly goals, and LEARN from them in the same way that reading similar genre’s of books will help.Here’s my monthly breakdown of films I’ve added to my calendar:

July – Breakdown

August – Flightplan

September – Red Eye

October – Psycho

November – Panic Room

December – Cape Fear

Now, you may be thinking, how do I calendarise all of this? Well, that’s quite simple.

I set-up several different calendars:

Writing (Novel) – This is time set aside for writing my novel

Study (Film) – This is time assigned to watching my monthly film choice

Study (Reading) – This is time assigned to reading my monthly book choice

Study (Writing) – This is time assigned to reading “How to books”… you’ll see in my list above that I’ve chosen to read a couple of JSB books (of course!)


Novel Writing has been added to my calendar on a daily basis, on my return journey home on the train/bus. That gives me anywhere between an hour to an hour and a half/weekday to write. I usually get through about 500 words+, but I’m more focused on getting a chapter completed/week.

Study (Film) has only two days at the end of the month assigned to it; no writing on those days, no reading either. Just watching the movie and taking notes on what I learned from it.

Study(Reading) has been assigned on a daily basis on the morning train/bus trip to work… that should be enough time to get through the book by the end of the month.

Study (Writing) has been assigned to 2 hours each day of the weekend (in my case I chose the read JSB’s Editing and Structure books – one on Saturday, and the other on Sunday)

So, that’s my plan; and so far it’s working; by the time you’re reading this I’ll be almost two weeks into this method. Hopefully I’m still going strong… I’ll probably have to update something though, I’m sure… but I’ll be sure to update my blog if so.


Let’s see if this works…

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