I'm starting to realize I'm not very efficient at keeping track of my story's timeline as I write.
Here's what I do:
I start writing, using my outline as a guide. Eventually, I'll come to a scene where I have to "identify" what day of the week it is. After putting my "stake in the ground," I keep writing, only vaguely keeping track of when the action is taking place, mostly relying on my memory to keep things straight. Sometimes, to help me out, I'll type the day of the week in a different-colored font at the beginning of a scene. Unfortunately, most times I do not. As you might imagine, when I reach the end of the first draft, my story's timeline is a complete mess.
Invariably, I'll find out that I've crammed 45 hours worth of events into a single day. Or that I have characters going to church on a Tuesday or being in school on a Saturday or watching a pro football game on a Wednesday morning.
To fix things, I have to find a calendar and jot down the scenes, day by day. Then I have to rearrange scenes, change transitions, and fudge things to make them fit better.
Here's what I should do:
Find the calendar before I start writing, and KEEP TRACK OF MY TIMELINE AS I WRITE. Or better yet, INCORPORATE THE TIMELINE INTO MY OUTLINE.
Writers, how do you handle the timeline for your book during the writing process?