The concept of writing a first draft of a novel in a month seemed like an impossible goal when I first thought of the idea. Surely I can’t do that, I thought. I’m working full-time. I’m querying my previous novel and blogging here doing a million other things. But it turns out the marathon isn’t impossible. I’m 31k into my WIP, and my target length is 60k, so I’m right on target.
Meeting my daily word count goals has been difficult- don’t get me wrong. Several days I haven’t met my goal, not by a long shot, and then I’ve had to make it up. But a number of things have made my marathon much easier than I expected it to be.
For starters, I’m pretty much ignoring house cleaning and cooking. My husband (always supportive and one of my chief motivators) is making our meals and my sister is helping out with some house cleaning. This is freeing up a good hour, most nights more, a day. Not having those distractions means when I get home from work, I can sit down and write.
Also, I’m continuing to read a little each day. Keeping myself exposed to new ideas and just the experience of reading itself is helping me to not burn out. I’m limiting my social time pretty severely, but I do leave the house once in a while. I just keep a tight rein on how long I am gone.
One very helpful technique I’m using is writing out a scene list before I start writing for the day. I get a legal pad and a pen (a wonderful break from the computer screen) and jot down any thought I have for the scene- character thoughts, actions, setting details, anything that I want to put into the scene. I also try to outline the whole scene action by action, so I rarely have to sit thinking “how do I get him from point A to point B?” This scene list is also turning out to be something I can do when I just don’t feel like expending the mental effort to write- and then when I am ready, I have two or three more scenes ready to go.
Probably the most helpful thing in this whole process has been limiting distractions. I stay off Twitter and Facebook. I put my phone on vibrate or even turn it off completely. If music is slowing me down, I turn it off so I can concentrate.
And then, finally, the old sayings are true- writers write. To write, I have to sit down and actually write. Seat-time is invaluable when it comes to knocking out a few thousand words a day.
As a final note, in case you didn’t notice the pretty blue sidebar badge, The Bookshelf has been chosen as the Writer’s Digest Website of the Week, which is an award to recognize websites for writers with helpful content. I have to say I’m excited. You can see me on the Writer’s Digest homepage on the lower right-hand sidebar.
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I’ll be back with another update on my WIP and a book review , so check back soon!