The list below of things to do after writing each chapter of your novel came about because I’ve edited nine novels now, and learned from personal experience that they would all have been easier to edit if I’d done everything on the checklist before continuing to write the next chapter. I’ve gotten timelines mixed up, character names mangled, forgotten whether it was spring, summer, or fall, left out sensory input where it would have worked brilliantly, and used “was,” “a while,” and other pet words way too often. Following the checklist should only take a few minutes and will make your first full run-through edit a lot less painful. See what you think. I only wish I’d done it for all my books, including my latest:

clutteredatticsecrets-08After each chapter is written:

1. Read it over and make minor changes and to refresh your memory.
2. Make a chart (word processing table or spreadsheet) with columns for Chapter Number, Day of Week, Time, Location, and Outline (synopsis).
3. Nail day of week, time of day, and location, put on chart.
4. List all new characters on another chart with first name, last name, and description so you can sort by first/last name to be sure not too many characters have similar names or begin with the same letter. Usually I do a small description of characters as they’re introduced, so I often just copy and paste the description into that column. If later on I mention something else about the character (eye color, make of car, for example), I put those details into that column, too.
5. Have yet a third chart to list names of businesses. My current novel has a made-up museum, funeral parlor, theater, and restaurant. It’s easy to forget many chapters later what I made up. It’s just two columns—name of business, and what it is. It won’t take you much time at all to add anything to it.
6. Check that senses other than sight are included–smell, hearing, touch, taste.
7. Find and replace your frequent words, for example, “was,” “that,” etc.
8. Check for your own personal demons—lack of description, echo words, tags missing making conversations confusing, mixed-up names, character positioning, and so on.
9. Do a final spell check.
10. Save your day’s work on your computer and back it up (I do that on the cloud).
11. Write the outline/synopsis for your chart.
12. In your notes file, (you have a notes file, right? With maps, research, anything else related to your particular project. I put these two charts in that file, always open when I’m writing the novel) list anything you want to cover later on, and any good ideas you have for later action. This is especially important if you are not an outliner, and it can help prevent writer’s block.

Your future self will thank you later for doing all this. So will your editor. Anyone have any tips to add to the list?


Once you wrap your head around the idea that time-management is really self-management, time management isn’t something outside of yourself, but an internal part of your very being.

If you procrastinate or waste time, you are not managing yourself and your life as well as you could be.

Instead of asking yourself what is often suggested by time management gurus: what’s the best use of my time right now, ask yourself: what’s the best thing I can do for myself right now?

This works together with thinking about your future self. If you do what’s in your self-interest for getting things done, your future self will thank you. Everything will fall into place. You will begin to automatically do the most important things when you are at your peak during the day or evening. And you will get the more mundane, easier-on-the-brain things done at other times. You will no longer procrastinate or waste time because you realize it’s not going to get you where you want to be.

Instead of thinking about the things you have to do as being “tasks” or even “chores,” think of them as being part of who you are and who you want to become.

To accomplish this, you need to plan your life so that it gives you joy, so that almost everything you do makes you happy to be doing it, and gives you a sense of satisfaction when you’re finished.  Sometimes this will require an attitude adjustment. Maybe scrubbing the bathroom isn’t your idea of something that will make you happy, but if you think about how it will help you live in a healthy environment and gets you moving around (especially is you have a sit-down job), you may find yourself tackling the chore with a little more appreciation for the benefits of doing it, or even happiness that it’s giving you a break from something else when you need one. Not to mention you will be happier when it’s all done.

Just one example of how you can manage yourself in a better, happier, more productive way. Go through all the tasks you have listed on your to-do list and find a way to translate them from chores to happy pieces that make up your life.

Call it Life Management.


Think about it—the more organized you are, the more time you have to relax and be really happy.

Routine and organization are essential. Think ahead, plan for the unexpected, and focus on exactly what you want to achieve at any given time. You can learn to do this. And you can unlearn bad habits. Believe me, you were not born this way. You have control.

Here are some hints. Pretend someone very important is going to show up tomorrow and see how you’re doing. Pretend you are being paid for getting each task done. Each task, not for a day’s work. Think about how it will make you feel next week if you’ve done everything you’ve set out to do this week. (How will your future self feel?) How will it make you feel if you don’t accomplish everything on your to-do list?

And speaking of your to-do list, you have one, right? Be sure it’s not too long or too short, but just right. You know from past experience how much you are likely to accomplish in one week. Have a running list of everything you want to accomplish. But choose from those tasks wisely to make your weekly list manageable.

After your list is honed, schedule your activities. Write them down on a calendar, just as you would a doctor’s appointment. These are appointments with yourself to get stuff done. Today is Monday. I do these time management/organization posts on Monday for a reason. Most of us start off the week with high expectations. We hope to be able to look back at the week when it’s over and pat ourselves on the back for getting things done. The new year is coming up. Also a great time of feeling as if you can, this year, get your life the way you want it to be. Start now by planning ahead. Your future self will thank you.