Monday 4 December 2023: New planning process

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

I had to step away from both the blog and the planning work on Thursday and get on with some work. The blog was nudging 2,000 words and getting far too long, and I didn’t want to overdo the planning work. I want to enjoy planning again and not let it exhaust me. So I stepped away from all of that to get on with some work. In future, I’m going to try and limit the blog to 1,000 words, or thereabouts.


First of all I touched base with The Secret of Whitehorse Farm, and I mean the actual writing part as opposed to the faffing part.

I got as far as opening the Scrivener file. Then I alternated between staring at the screen and staring out of the window. I knew what I wanted to write, but I just couldn’t get going. And I thought I knew what was blocking me.

Nettie Campbell isn’t a ditzy blonde.

There you go, I’ve said it. I tried to make it work, and in no way am I saying that all blondes are ditzy. I just couldn’t reconcile the book covers I’d created before as a bit of fun with the serious writing business of a mystery story.

So I had another surf around Canva and Pixabay and I came up with some images of my amateur sleuth that made me smile with satisfaction. I created three new covers for the three stories in the series, plus an extra one for the omnibus/3-book set. The only one I wasn’t completely happy with was the omnibus cover. But I finished work on Thursday feeling content with the change.

The reason I want to get the cover image right first is so that the character inside the book doesn’t turn out to look completely different to the character on the cover of the book. And I could, of course, have simply removed the character from the cover. But that didn’t work for me either. Plus, I really like the idea of all of my novellas having a kind of branded look and that, to me, at the moment is the circle surrounded by light.

So, without further ado, here are the three covers I *am* happy with:

I’ll carry on working on the omnibus cover. (All graphics created in CanvaPro.)


Monkey Dust had to cancel their weekend gig in Bradford, so the first job of the day on Friday was to create a poster with ‘CANCELLED’ across it, cancel the event, and notify everyone. I didn’t have Monkey Dust admin scheduled for Friday, but these things happen.

I changed my profile picture and my cover picture on Facebook. I’d already created the Christmas profile picture in Canva, so that was easy. Then I just removed the text box from the ‘Hello December’ image I created in Canva and used that as my cover picture. It’s the equivalent of hanging decorations on my profile page!

Having slept on the new book covers, and after getting a second opinion, my next job was to change the cover of the January magazine to match the featured novella. To do that I also had to create a square image from the artwork so that it worked on the magazine cover too. Now I have the template for the magazine cover, it’s not such a big job. And now I know how to make images that fit in Affinity, it’s even easier.

So, without yet more further ado, here’s what the magazine is currently looking like:

I really like the colours in both the first book cover and the magazine cover. But oh, I can faff for England…Now it was time to step away from the artwork and get on with some writing work. Saying that, the faffing does help me learn how to use these things. I’m still creating the book covers in Canva, but I’ve started to create the magazine covers in Affinity, and editing the Monkey Dust posters also helps me to learn things.

I’d already created the word- and page-count spreadsheets for December, so I opened those. December is the last time I’ll be using these three spreadsheets. From January, I’ll have one workbook for short material and one workbook for long material, pages and words in the same file. During December, I’ll start to add projects as and when I know what they’re going to be in January.

The next job was my weekly backup and while that ran I quickly ran through the competitions. Then I opened up Scrivener, added the new book cover to the Whitehorse Farm file and intended to crack on with something else. However, I started to write instead and ended up adding 610 words to The Secret of Whitehorse Farm. Yay! Then I rebooted my 200 words a day challenge and shared it to X and Bluesky.

I turned the snow on in here (have you seen it?), and I started putting all of my subtasks back in their parent folders on ClickUp. Subtasks working in the calendar view is such a game-changer for me and will mean less time-consuming steps in the future. The other admin thing was to go in and add my first project to my new single page planner: blog post word-counts. Once I’d set it up for the year, I also saved a blank 2025 version.

Finally, for my own work, I updated the diary for this week. I haven’t allocated full hour-long slots to each task because I don’t expect many of them to take a full hour. I don’t want to overfill the diary, though. But it is looking busy. Here are today’s tasks:

  • brainstorm The Map of Lost Places
  • outline The Midnight Labyrinth
  • continue writing The Secret of Whitehorse Farm*
  • upload chapter to Substack
  • write Tuesday’s blog post
  • daily competitions
  • Monkey Dust admin
  • Diane’s Gig List admin
  • editing

While I haven’t allocated whole hour-long time slots, I have put it all down in order of creative energy required for each task. It might take me an hour to brainstorm a short story and it might take only half an hour to write an outline. But as the brainstorming part is tapping into the creative energy, that one’s up first. The Secret of Whitehorse Farm is already outlined and once I get into the swing of it, the words should come a lot more easily.

*While on the subject of The Secret of Whitehorse Farm, I’m currently writing this directly into Scrivener (due to needing it to be finished quite soon) and polishing it as I go. I don’t know yet if I’ll cycle back as I go, or re-read everything I wrote *yesterday* before starting to write *today*. I’ll try both and see which works best. However, I’m also outlining as I go, but I’m doing that in longhand and at weekends or of an evening.

Several of those tasks shouldn’t even take half an hour, and the two admin jobs should take less than 30 minutes between them. Fingers crossed I have a lot of ticks by this time tomorrow. My last job of the day on Friday was the editing. It will be the last job of every day from now on as it requires the least creative energy.

Anyway, that’s me done for today. I’ve gone over my newly allocated 1,000 words per blog – and yes, I’m adding these words to my daily word-counts now. I’ll do the weekend catchup tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “Monday 4 December 2023: New planning process

  1. I love those covers! Well done!

    Blog word count absolutely should count in word count. It is work, part of the long term visibility plan.

    I love the snow!

    1. Thank you. Ian commented that she looks more sleuth-like, so I guess that’s job done.

      I love the snow too! I thought I was on my website earlier when another website I visited also had falling snow.

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