As the year comes to a close and December flies by faster than Santa’s sleigh, most of us do one of two things; rush to cram in everything before taking a break, or, do nothing because it’s easier to relax into a candy cane coma than finish plotting chapter twelve.
There’s nothing wrong with slowing down at this time of year, or any time you need a break. It’s coming back from that break and wasting time playing catch up when the New Year hits and the sugar has cleared your system. That’s when handover notes could be just what you need.
What Are Handover Notes?
If you haven’t heard of them, handover notes are what you leave for a work colleague so they can do your job while you’re gone. How it works for writers is present-you gives future-you all the info you’ll need to jump back into your WIP once the festive season/break has passed.
For example, I’m getting ready to send book one of my YA supernatural series back out on submission. This week I’ve been working on my query letter, synopsis, and researching agents/publishers. I plan on taking most of Christmas week off and letting my query and synopsis rest (which will allow me to come back to them with fresh eyes). That means my handover notes will remind me which files are current and where I’m up to with researching my list of potential agents/publishers. I’ve also been editing book two and will need to note what I was doing (searching and destroying The Repeat, “That”, and going through beta feedback). There’s also new social media graphics to make, and blogs to plan/write.
It might seem like a small list that’s easy enough to remember. But when you mix it with adulting, buying presents, Christmas cooking, and the burnout that comes with a long year of endless editing, rewriting, mastering new writing techniques, and bouts of feeling uninspired, what will be easier is getting back into writing with notes spelling out exactly what I need to do when I sit down at my keyboard.
What To Include In Your Handover Notes
This isn’t just a to-do list of things to check off. It’s a road map of where you were in the writing journey before you decided to take a detour and enjoy the scenery for a while.
- Where you’ve left the story.
- What you plan to write next.
- Details for any research you need to do.
- Checklists you’re ready to work through.
- Outlines you need to plan.
- Emails you need to follow up on/send.
- A rough plan of upcoming goals.
- Anything else important for you and your story.
Anyone who’s a plotter, organized, or doesn’t give in to the lure of binge-watching Christmas movies instead of writing might not need handover notes. But for those who are disorganized, pantsers, and planning to watch Die Hard on repeat, they are a gift to give yourself and use all year long, whenever you plan to take a break.
— K.M. Allan