The Silver Lining | March Madness Day 5 Check-in

Hello fellow March Madness-ers!

How are you doing on your goals? So far I’ve been super productive and I’ve hit my tasks exactly as scheduled. “Scheduled?” you ask. Well, more on that in a moment. But first I’d like to give away another prize from our huge prize arsenal today!


Today’s winner is…

Deana J. Holmes!

Congratulations, DeanaStop by our goal-setting post, and choose your prize from those still listed. Email Denise at d(at)denisejaden(dot)com with your choice and we’ll get it out to you as soon as possible.


And if you didn’t win, there are still LOTS of great prizes to be won, so keep checking in each day…

Now, I’d like to talk about goal setting. Specifically, setting small bite-sized goals that are not only realistic but achievable. In my day job as a Project Manager (in digital publishing), one of my main tasks is to create milestone schedules that break down large projects into smaller “deliverables.” This way, each person working on the project knows what they need to get done in a particular week. I usually divide projects into batches that each have their own due date, so if a smaller task falls behind, it’s okay as long as the batch due date remains the same.

I’ve started to apply this same scheduling philosophy to my writing and revisions and since then my productivity has greatly improved. This is an example of a schedule I’ve created to help me track revision tasks. This is a blank version:

Chapter # Task Name Type of Revision Duration Due Date
Batch 1 (Chapters #-#)
Due Date 03/##/14

Here is an example of how I’m using the schedule for my revision. I’ve made it generic so as to remove any details about the book, but basically I am turning a straight Contemporary novel into Magical Realism and adding a mystery element with clues and a search.

Chapter # Task Name Type of Revision Duration Due Date
Batch 1 (Chapters 1-5)
 1  Add in info about what Protagonist wants  Line edits  1 day  3/1/2014
 1  Add: Antagonist gives Protagonist a key  Line edits  1 day  3/1/2014
 2  Delete scene with brother  Delete scene  1 day  3/1/2014
 2  Protagonist finds the first clue  New Chapter  2 days  3/3/2014
 3  Remove info relating to Old Subplot  Line edits  1 day  3/4/2014
 4 After Protagonist gets to class, add in brief scene where she searches for Antagonist online. Love Interest catches her  Addition to scene 1 day 3/5/2014
 4 Reset location of date with Love Interest  Line edits 1 day 3/5/2014
 5 Protagonist and Love Interest find second clue.  New Chapter 2 days 3/7/2014
Due Date 03/07/14

I’m proud to say I’ve actually ahead of schedule at the moment. I’ve already completed all tasks for Batch 1, which gives me more buffer room in Batch 2.

And good news, March Madness-ers! I’m putting up a blank Excel version of this schedule (with an example tab) for you to download and use yourself!

The Excel version looks a little different:


It includes additional tabs to log new issues that need to be fixed in a 2nd revision pass. For example, in chapter 5 I realized I needed to change the timeline from a Wednesday night to a Friday night, so I wrote down “Fix timeline consistency in chapters 1-4” to tackle in pass 2 so I can keep forward momentum of the revisions without constantly backtracking.

You can download the Revision_Schedule HERE!

Now how did you do today?

And don’t forget to stop by Denise’s blog for Thursday’s check in:

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43 Responses

  1. I always do much better if I break things down into smaller sections, not just writing/revising, but with work or my day in general.

    I revised several chapters last night (yay!) and am hoping to do the same tonight. I’m riding the writer (editor) high 😀

  2. Cool spreadsheet, Shana! I’m finally on track with my planned goals, and moving full speed ahead, but I will definitely use this in the future! Thanks for sharing.

    (Also, I saw on Twitter that you are teaching a course on how to convert to ebook – you should think of offering this as an online course for writers. I think it would be super-helpful for a lot of writirs!)

    • Denise: Oh interesting. I hadn’t thought about that! This is through my job, so I didn’t actually create the lesson plan or anything but I could definitely adapt it for a series of blog posts. Good idea!

  3. I haven’t been able to keep up on the days this time as I’d like. Been having to deal with other things. However, I now know what I have to focus on. I just got edit requests back on my sci-fi romance novella, While You Were Away! And I need to get them hammered out by the 16th. So that’s pretty much what I’ll be working on for at least a bit of the month. Not sure how much I’ll get done today, however. Got a sickie little’n I gotta get to the doctor.

    • Yay for getting edit requests on your sci-fi! But sorry about the little sickie. I know how that goes. My toddler strategically plans to get sick at the most inconvenient times.

  4. Great spreadsheet! I like the way you’ve broken things down and given yourself deadlines to meet those goals – small steps add up to an entire journey. I’m on schedule with my goals, though it’s been a busy week. Thanks for the tips and the encouraging words. 🙂

  5. Ooh, like this. Just downloaded!

    My critique buddies showed me another site that helps too: thewriteclub.

    I’m going to use your suggestion and see if that helps me get over this hump in my revision!

    Thanks! 😉

  6. wow, thanks for the spreadsheets! I always end up floundering during revisions, getting overwhelmed by the sheer bulk of what has to be done. I’m getting close to the end of my contemp YA– and will hopefully be one chapter closer to the end after this afternoon’s writing session — so these are coming right in time!

  7. Very cool spreadsheet. You’re totally organized. Unlike me. I keep a messy notebook, with lots of scribbling, scratching, and chaotic outlines. 😯

    But I’m rockin’ the revisions so far this month!

    March onward, Wipsters. 🙂

  8. Big Congrats to Deana Holmes!
    Just now sitting down to start today’s madness, but so far I’m not only hitting my goals, I’m pretty much smashing them. Maybe I set my goals too low, or maybe I just like the feeling of knowing I can accomplish what I’ve set out to do. Over 13,000 words in 4 days!

  9. Shana, I think you are one of the most organized people I’ve ever encountered. 😉 We all do what we have to do to keep ourselves on task and motivated. My 10 page-a-day approach for this revision (of a WIP I haven’t read or thought about in over a year and a half) is bringing me loads of joy. I look forward to opening it each day.

    Big excitement tonight. Doing my first poetry slam. Judges and all. I’ve never shared my poetry publicly before and this one is EDGY. I’ll let y’all know how that goes. Carry on, Wipsters!

    • Ha, well, it helps that I am a Project Manager in my day job where I have to create schedules like this all the time. In fact, the one I uploaded here is modified from one I use at work.

      Good luck at the poetry slam!!! Can’t wait to hear how it goes.

  10. I use spreadsheets for keeping track of progress on my novels, but never thought about using them for scheduling. I haven’t faced hard deadlines yet, so scheduling hasn’t been a priority so much as just getting something written. But for projects that overwhelm, breaking them into small, bite-sized chunks is good advice.

    So far my progress has been unchartable… slow, but relatively steady, a few hundred new words each day. I’d like to be picking up speed soon. 🙂

    Congrats to Deana on being the next prize-winner, and best of luck to everyone for another good day of writing/reading (or whatever you’re doing).

  11. *Happy dance* YAY!

    I won something. Huzzah! Props to my CP for sending a casual reminder to check in, with no hint of the fun surprise awaiting me. Heart her.

    Love today’s post and am thrilled to find another writer who approaches her projects with excel in hand. I’ve spread-sheeted my book before, but not scheduled my edits. I like! Will definitely be downloading. Thanks Shana 🙂

    Anyways, on to the writing. And – ack. As much as I’m trying to write non-stop, today after work I’m taking an evening off to outline. I can draft quickly, but I need to nail down some more plot so I don’t feel like I’m spinning my wheels. Time to sort through my 4 pages of notes and flush them out. Then tomorrow… Word count here I come.

    • Glad you like the spreadsheet and congrats again on winning!

      And outlining still counts as progress in my book! It’s a necessary step. I personally love outlining.

  12. Cool schedule! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Today’s words are yet to come (I’m definitely a night-owl writer), but I’ve managed to get some writing-related work done, so that’s out of the way and off my mind for when writing time comes tonight.

    I entered MSFV’s Secret Agent Contest this month, so the first 250 words of my MG are now out there for the world to see. Eep!

  13. Whoa – that spreadsheet is way too organized for me. I fancy a list of bullet points of things that need fixing and just go through crossing them off. But so awesome that you’ve found a way to make your organization work for your writing! Today I’ve got the tiniest window to fit work in, but I’m going to do a bit. Then I should have more for the rest of the week and through the weekend, enabling me to meet my goal of sending revisions to my agent by Sunday. Yay!! Then on to shiny new idea research!

  14. 873 words for today; going to wrap up early to bed.
    Congrats to Deana! 😀
    Thank you for the Revision Schedule; I will be needing it!


  15. Well, things are moving along!! Not filling up the blank spaces as quickly as I would like, but it *IS* happening. Definitely lots of brainstorming – like figuring out another meeting for hero and heroine to give them time to work up to an already written love scene! Reading about working on middles, because that’s my issue here, for sure. And finally, as I read through everything, finding weaknesses and gaps that somehow escaped me before, so making lots of notes. This is a good start to the month, and now that I’ve got the money pressure off with my contract at work extended for a while longer, maybe I’ll start feeling even more creative!

  16. I got some words in today, but not quite as many as I wanted. I think midweek I start to feel worn out if I push myself too far, so I’m probably going to just focus on rest right now so that I can get a better start tomorrow.

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