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Thank you Bob Mahoney, Penny Lewis, John Adle, John Harris, Amber Dennis, Lim Lipscomb, Auburn University, and Shimizu Corporation for your reviews of the manuscripts at various stages. The variety of feedback from this team has been priceless.
#1. Time-box: Get up early and write for hours before you do anything else except basics...fix a cup of coffee, go to your desk, and get after it.
Did I do this? Yes. My # 1 priority. Every day - no email, no phone, no interruptions for 3 months is all it took to write the original draft by 3/3/2014.
#2. Make your first edit with the same regimen.
Did I do this? Yes. Every day. And the first edit was completed in 3 months by 6/3/2014.
#3. Make your second edit with the same regimen.
Did I do this? No, I made a major exception. This can be a most costly mistake. The edit was thus rushed in spurts to finish by 9/3/2014.
Not to belabor the rest, the next thing I knew it was 2021. If a major exception is necessary, so be it. But if it isn't, don't make the exception.
It is paramount - for me anyway - to prioritize the uninterrupted prime time-box to write, edit, and publish any important novel if I hope to produce excellent quality within a year, or whatever time period is practical. Mitigate any major exception and get back on track (for any #1 priority).
#4. Get all permissions necessary after a draft or two. You want to make any major necessary changes ASAP.
Did I do this? Yes. I let all those whom I needed permission - several - read the novel. I was lucky. They all said yes.
#5. Make sure that everything makes sense.
Did I do this? Not all of it. And if there was a silver lining in setting the novel aside for a while, this was it. I was glad I hadn't yet published.
#6. #1 rules. #2 was just #1, phase 2. From the moment I started with the words 'Chapter 1', #1 was estimated - correctly in hindsight - to be the path to publishing Down to Earth in 12 to 24 months max (albeit permissions and outside reviews can't be rushed, they didn't take that long). So back to #1 I go.