First Draft Momentum

How do you keep the words flowing?

I’m three-quarters of the way through a work-in-process.  The project is progressing faster than any other I’ve ever written, thanks to a no-excuses daily minimum word count.  In the beginning, when I typed up a writing schedule to write in my word count to date, the daily accountability was daunting.  But once I adjusted, the benefits of a formal “log” quickly became apparent.

The formality did two unexpected things.  First of all, looking at the proof that I would have an 80k rough draft in approximate eight weeks was incredibly motivating.  We all know when we begin chapter one, the next 350 pages loom over us like a Mt. Everest of words.  Secondly, the momentum I generated by committing to 1,500 words every single day increased my creativity.  I’ve been able to stay immersed in the project, picking up the plot line each morning without any need to recap what I wrote the day before. I’ve brainstormed plot issues on the fly and kept all my subplot balls in the air.  (A freakin’ miracle!)

And no excuses means exactly that.  If I got stuck on a plot point, I go back and flesh out an earlier scene.  Words not flowing?  I’ll outline scenes to come.   Busy day?  Take the laptop in the car.  Prop that sucker up on the steering wheel and write in the parking lot during my teenager’s guitar lesson.  A few days I’ve stayed up very late to get the words on the page.

So, I’m crossing my fingers.  The draft should be done (or nearly so) in another two weeks.

What works for you?  How do you keep the words and pages flowing?

10 responses to “First Draft Momentum

  1. Melinda,
    Your post was very timely for me. I’m almost done with my WIP, but meet regularly with time stealers. I like to commit to a word count or a page count. Sometimes I switch just to give myself a break! (I tend to set my goals very high. Ask my critique partners!!)

    I’m glad your daily goals are bringing you closer to your desired result. And I thank you for motivating me today to meet my word count. If I keep it up I’ll be done in about ten days. Looking forward to that!! Happy writing!!!

  2. Drafting is the hardest part of the process for me. I resist not knowing what happens next–no matter how much planning I do, once I start writing all bets are off. I prefer to rewrite than draft, so it’s always tempting, the idea of stopping the forward momentum and going back to fix something I know I have to.

    For me, though, I have to give myself an overall deadline. The draft will be done by THIS date (in this ammount of time), and I stick to it. Yes, I have daily workcount goals. But overall, I write 2 hrs, 3 hrs, 10 hrs a day, whatever I have to to reach my end-date goal. It’s very motivating. And I give myself permission to write a crappy first draft, because my drafts ALWAYS need to be revised, extensively. Which is a very freeing thing.

    Once I set myself free not to write things perfectly the first time (which I can’t) the writing and creativity and ideas flow so much more easily.

  3. Stacey,
    I’m so glad to share. This is the first time I have formalized a writing schedule and I’m loving it! This story is the most complex I have ever attempted, and I have the disturbing feeling that if I don’t keep flowing forward, it’s all going to fall apart. Keep plowing ahead.

  4. Anna, as always, your advice is golden.

  5. This is great inspiration. In the past I’ve always had a ‘loose’ daily word count goal, but on my most recent project, I’ve done the formal log and it’s been a real asset. Of course with a deadline, you have to get the book done on time, but keeping my hands in the story every day has helped me immensely.
    And I agree with Anna – allowing myself to ‘hang perfection’ and just write the first draft is a boon to my creativity as well!

  6. I have a really hard time with self imposed deadlines. It’s just too easy for me to make excuses. So for me it’s more helpful to make myself accountable to someone else. So I’ve got an end goal and to stay on track I either text a friend that is helping me stay on track or I get whip cracking texts. Either way, I keep moving forward.


  7. Regan, I really love seeing the end date in black and white. It keeps me focused to know I only have to maintain this crazy pace for a short period of time.

    And Rayna… 🙂

  8. Track changes/ comments on Word helps me keep the 1st draft flow going. If I know I need to research something or add scenery or ect.. ect.. that will derail my train of though from its fast track, I’ll insert a comment that tells me what I need to for the second draft. This allows me to continue on with the story. In the past, I got too caught up on making everything perfect the first time and wasted time crafting awesome sentences that only had to get chucked out later because of a plot change. Oh well, write and learn.

  9. Pingback: The Fine Art of Procrastination | Attacking the Page

  10. Pingback: The Fine Art of Procrastination | Rayna Vause / R.A. Vaughn

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