Week 2: Picking up the Pace

Introduction, what was the big win last week?

Writing Successes

First full week of 2020. Here's what I managed to pull off:

  • Sunday. As a single-car household, my days off from the library often end up being days for errands and appointments. That was true today. I published the previous post in the morning and didn't get back to writing until the evening after watching Dean Wesley Smith's lecture about attitude at the 20Books conference this year. I ended up adding 1,724 words to Synthetic Pain. My total word count for the day was 2,496 words, including the post and working on short fiction.
  • Monday. Another great day! I took advantage of appointments today to get writing done while I waited and passed yesterday's word count with 1,737words added to Synthetic Pain. Later I worked on studying short fiction, adding another 863 words. Total words for the day, including a little on the blog was 2,652 words.
  • Tuesday. Back to work today. I wrote 1,013 words on Synthetic Pain.
  • Wednesday. Vacation day with family was great. We had a lot of fun. I sat down shortly before collapsing in bed to add 396 words to Synthetic Pain.
  • Thursday. Another work day only I seem to have caught a bug. I wrote 275 words on Synthetic Pain.
  • Friday. Stayed home sick from work. Mostly spent on the couch watching TV and playing Minecraft.
  • Saturday. What happened?

Final thoughts on progress.

OKR Confidence Ratings

Thoughts

Write fantastic novels

Key Results

  • Write 1,500 words (minimum) per day.
  • 40,000 words (minimum) each month on the current novel.
  • Complete 6 novels in 2020.

Even though I haven't hit my minimum word counts each day, I'm still fairly confident that I can reach it. As my streak increases and I am more consistent, my confidence in the second two results will increase.

Write Amazing Short STories

Key Results

  • Write 500 words (minimum) per day.
  • Complete a finished short story bi-weekly (26 stories).
  • Submit or publish each finished story within one week.

I'm putting this at a 50/50 confidence right now. I tweaked the key results for a new story every other week because I want to study published stories in the alternating weeks.

Achieve success with my novels

Key Results

  • 12 novels released on my store and retail stores.
  • Average 10 sales per day, per title.
  • Match my income from my full-time librarian job.

Releasing the novels is one thing—they're written. It's mostly taking the time to get them out, but given my track record I think 50/50 is fair at the start. I have less confidence in the other two results without a lot changing. That's fine! I'm going for it.

Build a Community of Engaged Readers

Key Results

  • Readinary newsletter subscribers increase by 25%.
  • Broadcast open rate averages 60%.
  • Click rate averages 10%.
  • Reach 250 Patreon subscribers.

I'm more confident about getting newsletter subscribers than patrons right now. My open and click rates have been near those levels, which makes me fairly confident I can average that with work.

This Week's Priorities

Plans for the week.

  • Priority 1
  • Priority 2
  • Priority 3

Final words

Week 1 Update: Write Like It is 2020

Introduction, quick summary of the week. Big win: continued writing streak.

Writing Successes

Last week spanned the last few days of 2019 and first days of 2020. Here's what I managed to pull off:

  • Sunday. I added 481 words to Synthetic Pain. 
  • Monday. I wrote 279 words for Synthetic Pain right before going to bed in order to keep the streak going. Watched several episodes (up through #7) of The Mandalorian. Love the show.
  • Tuesday. Last day of 2019. I wasn't sure I'd keep the streak going. I left home at 7 AM and got home 11 hours later after driving 263 miles and visiting three libraries. I didn't have a chance for a break, much less time to write. We finished watching The Mandalorian, then I went to sleep until 9 PM or so, and wrote 343 words on Synthetic Pain. The streak lives! Finished the year with 201,459 words (total, not just fiction).
  • Wednesday. New Year's Day2020, the libraries are closed and I got to sleep in. I rested much of the day, playing Minecraft, and watching The Martian: Extended Edition. It was the afternoon before I sat down to meditate and then write. I spent time writing in my journal and reviewing timelines for Patreon updates. Later I added 653 words to Synthetic Pain.
  • Thursday. I started my day at 4:30 a.m., getting up and ready to write by 4:45 a.m. in my hammock chair with my Freewrite. I added 375 words to Synthetic Pain before I stopped to write in my journal and have breakfast. I added more words during breaks at work to reach a total of 916 words on Synthetic Pain.
  • Friday. My day didn't start early today. I didn't get up until 7 a.m. and didn't write until my lunch break. After dinner I felt sick and distracted myself with another writing session that managed to get my word count on Synthetic Pain up to 468 words for the day.
  • Saturday. I visited one of our libraries today. It's nice to get out into the libraries, talk with staff and people coming into the library. I didn't get a chance to write until the evening and only added 251 words to Synthetic Pain. It's another page, that's something. I could have gotten more done but chose instead to watch Long Shot with my wife. Although then I did stay up a bit longer and added another 1,286 words, bringing the total to 1,537 words, and hitting my target daily word count for the first time this year.

Final summary of successes.

OKR Confidence Ratings

Summary of feelings

Write fantastic novels

Key Results

  • Write 1,500 words (minimum) per day.
  • 40,000 words (minimum) each month on the current novel.
  • Complete 6 novels in 2020.

Even though I haven't hit my minimum word counts each day, I'm still fairly confident that I can reach it. As my streak increases and I am more consistent, my confidence in the second two results will increase.

Write Amazing Short STories

Key Results

  • Write 500 words (minimum) per day.
  • Complete a finished short story bi-weekly (26 stories).
  • Submit or publish each finished story within one week.

I'm putting this at a 50/50 confidence right now. I tweaked the key results for a new story every other week because I want to study published stories in the alternating weeks.

Achieve success with my novels

Key Results

  • 12 novels released on my store and retail stores.
  • Average 10 sales per day, per title.
  • Match my income from my full-time librarian job.

Releasing the novels is one thing—they're written. It's mostly taking the time to get them out, but given my track record I think 50/50 is fair at the start. I have less confidence in the other two results without a lot changing. That's fine! I'm going for it.

Build a Community of Engaged Readers

Key Results

  • Readinary newsletter subscribers increase by 25%.
  • Broadcast open rate averages 60%.
  • Click rate averages 10%.
  • Reach 250 Patreon subscribers.

I'm more confident about getting newsletter subscribers than patrons right now. My open and click rates have been near those levels, which makes me fairly confident I can average that with work.

This Week's Priorities

Summary of this week

  • Priority 1
  • Priority 2
  • Priority 3

Final comments

Week 0 Update: Welcome to the New Year

Introduction

Headline

Share things to celebrate each day. Ideas: Monday, wrote 1,000 words, kept streak going. Saw Rise of Skywalker (embed trailer). Tuesday, wrote 311 words, mostly family focus. Released The Murders in the Reed Moore Library on [thrive_global_fields id='15' inline='1′]—support for as little as $1 to get new stories each month. (create reusable sidebar about Patreon). Wednesday, wrote 352 words, just enough to cover at least a page per day, family holiday celebrations took up most of the day. Thursday, last day off, wrote 465 words, errands, time spent with family. Friday, wrote ?? words, back to work. Saturday, wrote ?? words, back to work.

OKR Confidence Ratings

Initial comments

Write fantastic novels

Key Results

  • Write 1,500 words (minimum) per day.
  • 40,000 words (minimum) each month on the current novel.
  • Complete 6 novels in 2020.

Even though I haven't hit my minimum word counts each day, I'm still fairly confident that I can reach it. As my streak increases and I am more consistent, my confidence in the second two results will increase.

Write Amazing Short STories

Key Results

  • Write 500 words (minimum) per day.
  • Complete a finished short story bi-weekly (26 stories).
  • Submit or publish each finished story within one week.

I'm putting this at a 50/50 confidence right now. I tweaked the key results for a new story every other week because I want to study published stories in the alternating weeks.

Achieve success with my novels

Key Results

  • 12 novels released on my store and retail stores.
  • Average 10 sales per day, per title.
  • Match my income from my full-time librarian job.

Releasing the novels is one thing—they're written. It's mostly taking the time to get them out, but given my track record I think 50/50 is fair at the start. I have less confidence in the other two results without a lot changing. That's fine! I'm going for it.

Build a Community of Engaged Readers

Key Results

  • Readinary newsletter subscribers increase by 25%.
  • Broadcast open rate averages 60%.
  • Click rate averages 10%.
  • Reach 250 Patreon subscribers.

I'm more confident about getting newsletter subscribers than patrons right now. My open and click rates have been near those levels, which makes me fairly confident I can average that with work.

This Week's Priorities

Talk about this week's priorities, key elements

Word count dashboard

2020 Foresight, New Year Plans

I started out 2019 with a planPriorities. Ambitious plans to write, publish, learn, and market more stories and novels. The key principle of the plan? Consistency. Turns out that I struggled with being consistent.

I didn't have any problem with consistent performance while pursuing my degrees. I showed up each day and did the work. I don't have problems at work as a librarian. My word count dashboard shows that I failed to consistently produce new words. Though I don't have a dashboard to track it (at least not yet), I didn't follow a consistent publishing schedule. My marketing efforts languished. I studied erratically. This rotted the foundation of my strategy for the year. Without consistent performance my strategy for the year failed.

The Heinlein Solutions

The problems I faced with my writing are all examples of not following Heinlein's Rules. Many different writers have written about Heinlein's Rules. I'd picked up the basic idea early on when I started writing, but it was Dean Wesley Smith that first lectured about the importance of Heinlein's Rules in a writer's career. I've since heard him talk about these rules many different times, in person and online. I've read his book and blog posts about the rules.

I know the rules.

Yes, and I still missed on all of them. 

Not all of the time. And not always in the same way. As we go into 2020 I want to look ahead with 20/20 foresight, identifying the ways that I failed this year—and recognize my successes. 

I want to take that and identify possible solutions to avoid the failures of this year.

Rule 1: You Must Write

Sounds simple. It is. Pick your tool of choice and make marks. Marks that convey thoughts into a reader's head. Code your story.

Maybe the code works and runs flawlessly in the reader's gray matter so that they experience the story you wanted to tell.

Maybe your code contains bugs that causes the story to crash and the reader puts it away, forgets about it.

No matter the outcome—you must write. I did write this year. If we take a look at my dashboard, I'm nearly at 200,000 words  for the year. Not all of that is fiction. The largest body of work was my journal, then short stories, and finally my novel Synthetic Pain. Plus some words on blog posts, studying, and emails to my list.

The Problem? I didn't consistently write new fiction. If I'd consistently written 250 words per day on my novel it'd be done at about 91,250 words. It's the simple math. It typically takes me less than 15 minutes to write 250 words. Yet I've only written about half that on the novel this year. 

The nice thing about that math is that it's also easy to figure out how much time I'd spend writing the book. At 250 words per 15 minutes, that's 1,000 words/hour, so a 91,000-word novel will take ~91 hours. A year at 15 minutes a day, but only 3 months at 1 hour per day.

The Solution: Consistency

I need to write every day. I work best when I'm consistent. Taking days off throws off my routine. I'm a librarian, managing staff, and working on complex data analytics. It takes a lot of time. I enjoy spending time with my family and doing things at home. I read. I watch TV, movies, and play games. If I don't write each day it becomes that much easier to shrug it off and not get my writing done.

The Master of Consistency: Jonathan Mann

If you're not familiar with Jonathan Mann, watch this video.

Mann has been writing a song a day for 4000 days. That's the level of consistency I'm talking about. Writing only 250 words per day for 4,000 days is 1,000,000 words. That's a book each year, two if they're short, or a book and some short stories. In Mann's case—a whole lot of songs!

He's done more than write the songs. He records them. He creates videos. He's starting a new podcast about his process. It's inspiring. 

How can I maintain that level of consistency?

  • Track my work. I've created the dashboard on Tableau Public. I made a form that feeds a Google Sheets spreadsheet which supplies the data for the dashboard. Each day I record my word counts for each writing session on that form. It's a visual record of my work (or lack of work).
  • No excuses. Mann talks about writing his song each day no matter what. Food poisoning? He does the song. Travel? He writes. Speaking? He writes. It's taking Rule 1 to heart. You must write. Unless I'm literally unconscious or dead there's no reason I can't find 15 minutes to write 250 words each day.
  • Fiction first. Mann doesn't count the day if he hasn't produced his song. That's what counts. I've been tracking all of my word counts. That's fine, but other words can't take the place of new fiction. I should update my tracking so it can show fiction (default) or everything if I want. The day counts when I write at least 250 words of fiction. Every day, not average. Even if I write 4,000 words in a single day, the next day I still need to write at least 250 words. I hope to average more than 250 words per day, but that's the minimum. It's about a page. So instead of a song a day, it's a page of fiction a day.
  • Inspirational Goals. Even if my minimum word count is 250 words of new fiction, I want my average word count to be much higher—2,750 words per day. I may not be able to write that much every day. That means writing much more than I've done, to the point I'd be pushing Pulp Speed One. One million words of new fiction. My minimum would get me a novel in one year. Hitting my higher target would mean several novels each year along with short stories. Impossible? No, not really. Writers do it all the time. Some writers have put out that many words in a single month. 
  • Share my progress. The dashboard is public. Anyone curious enough to see what I'm doing can follow along there. I'm always tempted to blog more often but that's something else that takes more time. I'm thinking about doing a weekly blog post, though, to look back at the previous week. It's a way to share more details of what's going on. Since I keep a journal I can probably extract elements from that to make it easier too.

Rule 2: You Must Finish What You Write

Here's another rule that Mann absolutely hits. He finishes the song each day. It's done. It takes a bit more than 250 words to write most stories. 

I missed on this rule too. I haven't finished Synthetic Pain. I did manage to finish some short stories, but there are some that I didn't complete. A great way to miss on this rule? Don't follow Rule 1.

That's not the only way. I wrote quite a number of chapters of Synthetic Pain and decided (for no particularly good reason) to toss those chapters and start over. That's a great way to not finish something. 

The Solution: Fearless Inertia

Don't stop. Don't look back. It's the marathon. Keep hitting Rule 1 each day until you reach the end of the story. In my case, I might cycle through words I wrote the day before, creatively, to get into the flow and then go forward with new words.

How can I maintain my inertia?

  • Tracking. The tracking helps. The more days that pass, the longer the writing streak, the more power it has to compel me to move forward.
  • Title Tracking. Tracking daily word counts is a start, but I also want to track finished titles. What good is it to write a bunch of words if nothing is finished? I want to update my dashboard / form to include information about each title including the completion date. I can use that to display when I complete titles as well as information about the title.
  • Fear is the mind killer. It's the little death. It's listening to my critical voice. That's what happened with Synthetic Pain. My critical voice (which is fear) convinced me that what I'd written wasn't any good. Ignore it.

Rule 3: You Must Refrain from Rewriting Unless to Editorial Order

Fear haunts all of the rules. Rule 3 is where many people get the gom jabbar. I'm no exception to this one. I start thinking that I need to spend a bit more time going over my story. Usually by that point I'm not doing it for any good reason. It's the fear, the doubt that I can get it right. 

Dean points out the errors in logic around this one. “I'm not sure where the thinking comes from that if they couldn't get it correct the first time, why looking at it and stirring the words around will make it better, but that is the myth.”

I'm better about this one than some of the other rules, but it sneaks in sometimes. The issue with Synthetic Pain was an example.

The Solution: Get It Right the First Time

Dean digs into the details of Rule 3, the ways people fail, and what Heinlein meant when he wrote the rules (hint: exactly what it says). 

How can I get it right the first time?

  • Cycling. Not on the bike. It means cycling back over what I'm writing, still in creative voice, fixing errors, typos, and wrong details. Don't write sloppy drafts. Get it right.
  • Done is done. Once it's finished, that's it. That manuscript moves on to the next rule. If it's a novel, it'll get added to my publication schedule. I'll send short stories out to the major magazines, add them into my publication schedule, or publish on Patreon. (Your support helps me move toward a full-time writing career, and you get regular stories, and other rewards based on tier level).

Rule 4: You Must Put It on the Market

The critical voice loves to stop this one. It's what Steven Pressfield calls Resistance. I've run into this, struggled with it, and continue to do so. On the one hand, I'm not afraid of what people will think about my stories. Except when I get a rejection or a bad review that sends me into a depression spiral and I realize that I do care. I care because I hope readers will enjoy the stories. Because I want to succeed. 

This rule gets tricky because it's easy to ‘forget' to send something out. Or to take the time to publish it. Or fall into a Rule 3 temptation to ‘revise' the story. 

The Solution: Get Over It

You don't own someone's reaction to your work. Mann shares this quote from Martha Graham in his video.

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is on a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

I love this so much. It's one of the best things that I've read. It's worth taking time to unpack it. Watch Mann's video. He goes through it. Graham says, “if you block it, it will never exist…” And, “It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression.

Right. Send it out.

How can I get over it?

  • Acceptance. Remember the quote from Martha Graham. I don't have to believe in myself, in my work. I don't have to be pleased. I only need to keep the channel open. Good or bad, it isn't up to me. 

Rule 5: You Must Keep It on the Market Until Sold

Boy did I screw up on this one! I've unpublished books instead of leaving them up. I've failed to send stories back out to markets, allowing them to languish in a virtual drawer. On top of Rule 4 failures, Rule 5 is a common problem area for me. 

Dean says, “So, these writers pull down an indie-published story, give up on a story, usually out of fear, and put the story in a drawer. No reader will ever buy it.

“Headshaking in this modern world of unlimited shelf space.”

Yep. And I've been one of those writers.

The Solution: Keep It Out

It's not complicated. If sending to professional markets, keep sending it out. Even after it has been published, it might be possible to publish it in a market that accepts reprints. Or indie publish it. Look at all of the possible rights you can license and Rule 4 and 5 the heck out of it.

So if it is that simple, what's the problem? Why do I have so much difficulty with this one?

How can I keep titles on the market?

  • Plan Markets. Figure it out in advance. For short stories, determine which markets pay professional rates. Create a ranked list of markets. If the first doesn't take it, send it on to the next.
  • Mailing Mondays. Okay, so generally stories aren't mailed any longer. Still, it can be helpful to pick a day to send any stories that came back on to the next market. I use Trello for tracking submissions and my plans.
  • Publish Books Monthly. I want to hit a regular publication schedule for my novels. That's been the plan, but as with my other issues around consistency, it hasn't always gone as planned. No excuses. I have planned out releases on the 1st of each month. The next release is scheduled for Jan. 1st – Past Dark, available for pre-order now. I also have Time Retrievers set for a release date of Feb. 1st, also available to pre-order. 

2020 Plans

It's nearly the New Year. I'm excited about the opportunities in 2020. The key, as it was last year, is consistency. Like Mann, I need to write each day. I've gone over some of the issues that I faced, the tactics that can help me make sure that I stick to Heinlein's Rules, and some targets that I want to reach. I want to put that into a format that can help me with being consistent.

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

Adopted by Google and other organizations, popularized by John Doerr in Measure What Matters, OKRs offer a structure I like. It's one that we're using at the library too. It makes sense to me to create some personal OKRs for my writing. The tactics I listed above are the actions that I'll take to meet my objectives. 

Doerr lists the first superpower of OKRs: Focus and Commit to Priorities.

That's key for me.

What is most important for the next three (or six, or twelve) months?…With a select set of OKRs, we can highlight a few things–the vital things–that must get done, as planned and on time.

See, it's not only words that I'm going for. I'm striving to write fun stories. Stories I want to read. I want to have fun when I'm writing! I also have fun with the other steps along the way.

Annual OKRs

I haven't explained OKRs in great detail. It comes down to a few things, as Christina Wodtke says in Radical Focus. “One: set inspiring and measurable goals. Two: make sure you…are always making progress toward that desired end state. No matter how many other things are on your plate.”

It's what you want to do and how you'll know if you've achieved it.

I know I've got a good Objective when you leap out of bed in the morning eager to make it happen. I know I've got the right Key Results when you are also a little scared you can't make them.

I'm setting annual OKRs. Each week I'll set priorities. Maybe I'll post about that, another way to remain accountable, either here or on Patreon. It's also a way to celebrate what has been accomplished.

Write fantastic novels

Key Results

  • Write 1,500 words (minimum) per day.
  • 40,000 words (minimum) each month on the current novel.
  • Complete a finished novel by the end of each even month (6 novels).

Write amazing short stories

Key Results

  • Write 500 words (minimum) per day.
  • Complete a finished short story bi-weekly (26 stories).
  • Submit or publish each story within one week.

Achieve Success with my novels

Key Results

  • 12 novels released, one each month, on my store and retail stores.
  • Novels are available in e-book, hardcover, paperback, and large print formats.
  • Average 10 sales per day, per title.
  • Match my income from my full-time librarian job.

BUild an engaged community of readers

Key Results

  • Readinary newsletter subscribers increase by 25%.
  • Broadcast open rate averages 60%.
  • Click rate averages 10%.
  • Reach 250 Patreon subscribers.

I'll start from that set of OKRs for 2020. I think it's a good set of objectives that covers my writing, publishing, and marketing bases. A weekly check in, commitment to goals for the week, and celebration of the previous week's accomplishments will help. I tried to incorporate the points I made about each of Heinlein's Rules.

I have other things I'd like to do in the new year, including additional work on illustration. I'm not setting OKRs for those because I want to keep my focus on what's important. Now I'll look at turning those OKRs into a dashboard.

I'd love to hear what you think in the comments. Sign up for Readinary below, or support me on Patreon

Novelizing My Writing Process

I love trying out different tools for writing. Over the years I’ve written on all sorts of devices from pens to word processors, Palm OS PDAs, Alphasmarts, laptops, Chromebooks, phones, and PCs. I’ve used digital recorders to record dictation. My current obsession is my Freewrite (and waiting for the Traveler to come out).

All of these devices have used different software (well, not the pens, although I’m curious about using shorthand and software to convert it to text). I love trying out new programs and have used a variety of programs on all of the platforms. Today I still use Word for some tasks. I’ve used Scrivener. I posted previously about trying out Novlr online.

I was recently contacted by the kind folks at Novelize who offered me a chance to try out their online novel writing program. It’s been available since 2014 but I’d somehow missed it. Of course I jumped at the chance to try it out. I’m going to share my first impressions in this post. Later, after I spend more time with Novelize and get to know it better, I’ll share my experience.

My Writing Process (Currently)

My writing process changes with different programs and devices. I keep trying to optimize and improve my process. Right now I love using the Freewrite for its tactile feel, the e-ink screen that works in bright sunlight as well as inside, the simplicity of the design, and the distraction-free nature of the interface. It is very much a smart typewriter. (The design can lead to distractions when writing in public because people will ask questions about it.)

The Freewrite is all about moving forward, writing new words. You can backspace to delete text (I love NEW+BACKSPACE keystroke for taking out the previous word), but that’s it. You can’t go back and edit previous lines. You can read over them, but not edit. The Freewrite’s design pushes you forward to create the first draft.

This is an issue if you’re a writer that frequently cycles through a draft as you write, going back up and working back through the draft.

I tackle this issue by copying the text after the Freewrite syncs to Dropbox (you can also use Google Drive or Freewrite’s Postbox) and pasting it into a program to refine and cycle through the draft. Again, here you could use any program you wanted. I’m interested in using an online solution that I can access on any device.

That’s where Novelize comes back into the picture.

First Date With Novelize

First impressions matter and Novelize made a good impression with the clean design and interface it offers. I looked at the website and the tour video. It definitely looked like a program that I’d enjoy getting to know better.

The writing interface is simple with few distractions. Pretty much open it and start typing. The full capabilities don’t show up right away. There’s a lot of depth to the program that it reveals as you spend more time with it.

The interface uses a chapter and scene structure, but you can use those sections how you like. If you write in chapters rather than scenes you can ignore the scenes and click the Add Chapter button when you want to start a new chapter. A Notes section provides a space for scene/chapter notes. Or Add Scene to add more scenes to the existing chapter if that’s how you work. The window continues to scroll as your novel gets longer. With lots of scenes or chapters that might be a problem if it wasn’t for Novelize’s version of the TARDIS–the Panel.

The Panel aka TARDIS

Open the panel by clicking or tapping the Panel link in the bar at the bottom of the screen. The panel offers several sections:

  • Manage provides a space for metadata about your book and word count goals.
  • Summaries shows the overall summaries of your novel’s sections along with chapter and scene summaries.
  • Contents solves the scrolling issue by navigating to that chapter or scene when you click/tap. It also shows word counts for the book and the individual scenes and chapters.
  • The Notebook provides many more sections to save information about your book. I’m not going to dig into that in this post but I will mention that I love the fact that the notebooks can be saved and used outside of the novel itself. I imagine it’d be a great help for a series bible.

There is a lot to explore in the Panel. It’s optional. No one makes you use it, although I’d think the manage and contents sections would get used by most folks.

Modes

On the right side of the bottom bar is the Modes link which offers three fairly self-explanatory links.

  • Outline. Exactly what it sounds like. If you like to outline, create chapters, scenes, and descriptions of your book. Even if you don’t outline before writing, I can see jotting down notes after each chapter/scene as I go. That might work well with the Freewrite, setting up sections as I finish them. I’ll come back to process later.
  • Write. I’ve already talked mostly about the write screen. You’ll spend a lot of time when in this mode creating your draft.
  • Organize. Use this mode to change the order of chapters or scenes. You can move entire chapters up or down, move scenes up or down, and even move scenes to other places. It doesn’t support drag and drop at this point, but it is pretty simple and works well on a phone (more on that too later).

Each of the modes provides useful tools to work on your novel. I’m still figuring it all out, so how I use it might change as I spend more time with the program.

The Menu

Finally, on the far right of the bottom bar, is a menu which provides links for your account, support, and more importantly the Dashboard.

It’s the Dashboard that shows all of your novels and notebooks. It’s where you go to download your work or create new novels. An important screen, but probably not one you’ll need to visit too often unless you constantly switch between projects.

Tap or click on your book or Novelize to quickly get back to your book.

Mobile Support

I’m thrilled that Novelize works well on my Pixel phone. I’m not at the latest phone with my Pixel 2XL, but Novelize is simple to use on the screen. It’s great to see the program support mobile use. It opens up the possibilities for working on the novel simply by taking out my phone, tapping Novelize on my home screen, and getting to work. It’s not an app, it runs in the browser, but it doesn’t need to be an app. It’s a good example of a site that works well in a mobile format. At least on my phone.

Writing With Novelize

Okay, so that’s all my first date impressions with Novelize. They did give me access to the program. Other than that, I don’t have any sort of affiliate relationship with them.

How do I plan to incorporate Novelize into my creative process?

I said earlier that I’m obsessed with my Freewrite. It’s a joy to use and keeps me moving forward on my projects. For my current work-in-progress novel Synthetic Pain, when I finish writing a chapter, I’m adding it to Novelize. Once in the program, I can cycle through the draft. I can add notes, or add things to the notebook.

I don’t outline an entire book before starting. I usually write down thoughts in my journal for an overall general idea of what I’m planning with the book. I could transfer some of those notes into the summaries in Novelize. If I’m thinking about the next chapter, I might add a few notes about it in the outline.

Although you can go back and read over what’s written on the Freewrite, it’s more convenient to pick up my phone, open Novelize, and look over the previous chapters or notes right there on the phone screen.

In fact, I imagine that’s going to be a major way I use the program. I’ve done some of that but expect to try out different options. Alternatively, I could open the novel on the PC while I’m writing on the Freewrite if I needed to refer to something.

Or just avoid the distractions and come back later to update the draft in Novelize.

Am I Going to Keep Seeing Novelize?

Absolutely. I want to give it time and see how well we work together. I’m still figuring that out. I like a lot of what I’ve seen so far with Novelize. We need to spend some quality time to really see if this relationship has legs and fits in well with my other tools. After I finish Synthetic Pain I plan to come back and report on how it all worked out, along with any suggestions for how we might work better together.

If you’d like to give Novelize a try, visit getnovelize.com and check out the trial period. Pricing is $5/Monthly or $45/Annually.​​​​

‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

The Marsten House hung over the town of Jersualem’s Lot, ‘Salem’s Lot, like a tombstone over a grave that hadn’t been filled in yet. The people in their homes and shops didn’t recognize the rich smell of fresh turned earth, the odor of their own deaths. They hadn’t caught up to the fact that they were already dead, their last days on earth evaporating like morning dew.

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