Case Study: Writing A Book By Using Recurring Tasks
No, not that kind of cricket
Image by Roos Rojas

Case Study: Writing A Book By Using Recurring Tasks

I’ve just finished writing a book, due to be published at the end of the year. The Recurrer app and its unique way of managing recurring tasks was a key tool in my planning and writing of the book. Here’s how I used it.

The book (The 50 Greatest Australian Cricketers of the Past 50 Years, sequel to The 50 Greatest Matches in Australian Cricket of the Past 50 Years) has a simple structure. It’s – as you’ve probably guessed from the title – a countdown of fifty articles on cricketers. This makes it perfect for a recurring task.

As soon as I signed the contract, I worked backwards from the date the book was due to be submitted to the publisher. I gave myself a two week buffer for edits and calculated how many pieces per week I’d have to write to make that deadline.

The answer turned out to be roughly 3-4 pieces per week. So I simply created a recurring task called ‘Write a cricketer’ with a preferred recurrence of 2 days (which would get me to 3-4 pieces done per week). I gave the task a minimum recurrence of 1 day (which meant that if I wrote a piece yesterday, I was still eligible to write a piece today, assuming there were no other more urgent or important tasks to take priority). I set the maximum recurrence for 3 days, which enabled me to take weekends off without the app losing its shit with me.

I also added a link in the task settings to my note-taking app DEVONthink, which had a list of all the players I was going to write about. A quick right-swipe and I could see who was up next at a moment’s notice.

From there, the task sat in my daily to do list, lower down if I wrote a piece yesterday, inching its way closer to the top if I wrote one two days ago, and nagging me for attention if I last wrote three days ago. By entering the time taken to write each piece after I finished each day, the app also soon learned how long each one took to write and moved all the other tasks in my day around to make it fit into the schedule.

A few months later, after fifty triumphant ‘task completed’ notifications, the first draft of my book was written. I changed the name of the task to ‘Edit 10 cricketers’ and switched to editing mode. The time taken to edit ten cricketers was slightly different to writing the first draft of one, but not too different and the app again quickly adjusted to refelect the time it took me to complete this new version of the task. After five recurrences of this adjusted task over a couple of weeks, the book was ready to be submitted.

Once I’d submitted the book, I snoozed the task. I knew there would be further edits once the editor got his hands on it (the clue is right there in his job description), but until that happened, I didn’t need to think about the task again.

When the manuscript came back with the suggested editorial changes, the first thing I did was change the name of the task again to ‘Work on edits’ and unsnooze it. I also adjusted the preferred recurrence to 1 day, and the maximum to 2 days and soon powered through the changes. Then I snoozed it again.

Each time the publishers sent it back for further requests (suggested photos, photo captions, formatting confirmations, more edits, etc), I unsnoozed the task and went to work. (Obviously, I could have created a new task for each of these requests, but I prefer to just rename the previous step in the process.)

Now the book is just about done (I think) and about to head off to the printers. Once I get confirmation I have no further work to do, I’ll delete the task. It’s served me well.

Try Recurrer for free from the App Store now.

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