Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

Outlines and Measuring Progress

I'm trying to get back in the habit of focusing on "draft completion" rather than word count. But my methodology is all about incremental steps: "finish draft" is not a task I can cross off the list every week, while "finish 7% of draft" is. Which means I have to figure out what 7% of the draft is, and I can't do it by saying "the book will be 100,000 words so 7% is 7000 words" because that's just word count by another name.

So what I do is this:

  • take all the bullet points on the book's outline and dump them into a spreadsheet.
  • Estimate how many words each bullet point will take to write and put that estimate in the adjoining column
  • As I finish writing each bullet point, mark it complete. (I do this by putting down how many words it actually took so that I can see how close my outline has been to reality, but this is not a necessary piece.)
  • Have the spreadsheet total up the estimate for all the bullet points I've written so far, and divide it by the total estimate for the book. That's the percentage I've written so far.

I used to give each bullet point equal weight and not use a spreadsheet with individual estimates, but that is the method that had me thinking I was 50% done with The Twilight Etherium when I was 75% done with it, and I decided I wanted to be a tch more accurate than that.

The individual estimates for bullet points can still be off by quite a bit, though. Today I updated the Angel's Grace outline to account for what I'd written this week, and discovered that I am 67% through with it. That was my target for the month. But I've only written 8800 words so far this month. I thought it would take me, like 15-25,000 words to get here. Uh. Huh.

I mathed at this several times in different ways, because I was sure I had to have done some math wrong somewhere to come up with this. But no, that is the correct current estimate. (My 35% estimate for how complete it was at the end of December did turn out to be low, though -- it should've been 40%.)

There are some scenes not on the outline that I want to add, so I could revise it and expand the outline, and I'll certainly continue to write Angel's Grace this month -- I'm not taking the next three weeks off just because I'm ahead of schedule.

But it does mean I should do some other work too. Like that cover for The Lord, His Monster, and Their Lady, which is stubbornly refusing to finish itself. o_o;;;

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Tags: writing about writing

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