Or so I thought. The last few weeks have taught me otherwise, and it’s been a good lesson to learn, this early in my writing career. You see, I had this great (for ‘great’ read ‘naïve’) plan mapped out for the first three months of 2017 – I was going to write my fourth novel, having finished my third before Christmas, and said fourth novel would be finished by the end of April at the very latest. This would then naturally lead me into writing a novella during June/July (possibly into August depending on holidays) and then novel number five could start later in the year, probably as part of NaNoWriMo.

Haha, yeah, right. See, what I hadn’t factored in, because I’m just not used to this being-an-author lark, is the overlap between finished works, works-in-progress, and works-yet-to-be-started. So, here’s what actually happened between January and now, when I thought I would be happily writing away on my fourth novel…

December – start writing fourth novel while I have a few days break at Christmas. Get first 7000 words done. Slap self on back.

December 31st – meet publisher at social event, who tells me she loves third novel BUT could I just rewrite this section here, here, and here? Sure, I say, that won’t take long.

January – day job interferes for first two weeks as we finalise year-end. Rewrites of third novel then take the last two weeks of January, longer than anticipated as rewrites lead to making sure all connections are updated that were based on the original chapters and now need to factor in the new bits. Manage to scrabble four more chapters of fourth novel together by end of January, and send off to beta readers.

February – second novel, ‘Dark Horse’, published, so spend first two weeks of month doing lots of social media stuff around that: giveaways, blog, promotional stuff, etc. Beta readers come back with feedback on first nine chapters of fourth novel and some rewrites are in order. Just about to start those when editor comes back with first tranche of changes to third novel. Set aside fourth novel to work on edits of third – guess what, they also include a large rewrite to two key chapters…!

March – get rewrites done on third novel over a couple of weeks, and first pass edit goes back to editor. Darn woman sends back second tranche only days later – damn her efficiency! Work on those (thankfully very few) changes and send on to publisher for copy edit. Last week of March looks entirely free and flex fingers ready to pick up with fourth novel again. Universe cackles maniacally and sends me some hideous cold/flu thing for a week – can barely lift a book to read, let alone type. Cue angry face emoji…

April – still getting over those germs, but finally, on the 4th, pick up again with fourth novel and re-read from beginning to get my head back in my characters’ heads. Miraculously it works, and suddenly #amwriting again. Woo hoo!

It stressed me out at times, wondering if I’d ever get back to writing the fourth one, but as I said, it taught me a valuable lesson about what to plan for when you have multiple works on the go. From now on I’ll be able to factor editing time in much better, and the time required to focus on the launch of a publication – that one’s a little odd because that’s usually a book you haven’t looked at for a while and suddenly you have to focus on it again and ‘sell’ it as much as you can to anyone who’ll listen.

But now I have a much better grasp on the sequence, I reckon I’ll be spinning plates like a pro in no time…

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