It has been a really long time since I posted anything on this blog, and I thought with the recent influx of people following, it was time to post something new. So let’s dive into my latest venture into the writing world.
In the month of April, I wrote a completed first draft of a new manuscript!
This is big for me. I haven’t started and completed a project since the summer of 2015. I was feeling pretty down about my writing abilities and the possibility of actually writing a book that could potentially be sent out to query. I had low confidence in myself as a writer and generally as a person within my own life. So I made a lot of drastic changes to myself and my life in the month of April so that I would be able to start and complete a project for the first time in almost three years. I’ll list some of things I did below because I feel like they were extremely useful for me to stay productive and enthusiastic about my writing.
- I cut down my social media. I deleted my Instagram (account and app). I deleted my Twitter app from my phone and blocked my personal account on my laptop (I kept up my bookish/professional Twitter, but I rarely posted on it except for a monthly hashtag challenge). I deleted the Snapchat app. (I already deleted my Facebook a year ago and it was the best decision of my life.) The only social media I kept, was my fandom Tumblr blog and my bookish Twitter.
- I had multiple places where I kept track of my word count progress. I used CampNaNoWriMo as my main place (something about their statistics page is an ultra productivity booster for me1), and I also kept track on Scrivener, as well as on myWriteClub.
- I posted limitedly about my WIP on my Twitter to hold myself accountable.
- I gave myself a goal of writing 4,000 words a day (I have a part time job, so I have a lot of free time on my hands that some people may not), but even so, I knew I only had to write about 2,000 words a day to stay on track with CampNaNoWriMo.
- I wrote in a place that wasn’t my house. I find it not impossible, but much more difficult to write while in my own comfort. I mostly went to Barnes & Noble and sat at their cafe. One, because there are a few Pokestops nearby, and two, because my computer won’t connect to their WiFi so I never had to worry about being distracted by the internet. I was basically forcing myself to focus on my writing and not getting sucked into the web.
Those are the main things that I went out of my way to do so that I would stay focused and it worked!
There were a few other things I did to trick my mental self into staying productive. I have a finicky mind, so sometimes I have to trick myself to boost my creativity. Some of these things included:
- I started CampNaNoWriMo with 10,000 words already written (I wrote these words the weekend leading up to April 1st) and added them to my overall word count so I was always well above the estimated word count for whatever day I was on.
- I wrote a WIP from a in depth summary that I had written four or five years ago, so I hadn’t been doing months of world building beforehand and just dove right into the writing process.
- I kept changing my word count goal the closer I got to the end. I started at 90,000 words. I moved that down to 80,000 when I got about 90% done with my MS, and then, realizing that I was wrapping things up with the last two chapters, I brought it down to 75,000. In the end, I wrote a little over 77,000 words.
There are a lot of things wrong with my MS. I had lots of thoughts on this as I wrote it. I hashed it out with my boyfriend (who had no idea what was happening since I decided not to tell anyone much of anything about my story idea this time*) and more than halfway through I had an epiphany: I was going to completely change the plot line to cut down on cliches. I was super happy with my new idea, but I also continued writing my story in the original way. By the time I got to the emotional reveals near the end, I backtracked and decided I was going to keep the original plot line…but move the timeline up. Instead of starting on Day 1, I was going to start a month or two into the story. I felt that the first 20 or 30,000 words were a lot of exposition and a lot of main-character-meets-new-character-and-establishes-relationship which bogged down the pacing. I’m super happy with this new way to tackle this idea, and I plan on going this route when I start revising/rewriting.
*I say this because I tend to get super excited when I get a new story idea. I want to tell everyone close to me every detail of what’s going to happen in it. And, after talking this through with (again) my boyfriend, I realized that this hurts me more than it helps me. So, yes, I told the general, one or two line summary to a number of people, but all the details? I kept to myself. It made the writing more personal. The last MS I wrote in 2015 I also kept close to my heart, so I think that this is the best way I can write a story from start to finish.
So now I have a 77,000~ word manuscript, a purpose when it comes to what my rewrites are going to focus on, and I’m super excited. I don’t feel done with this MS yet. I know it’s imperfect, and for the first time in my writing career, I am actually super excited to do rewrites because I know where this story could go and how it can be better. I don’t think it’s perfect, so I have no problems digging in and changing a lot and deleting thousands and thousands of words just to make it a better story.
This is a big deal for me, as I know it is for a lot of people. Finishing a manuscript, even if it’s a shitty first draft, is a huge accomplishment. And now I’ll set it aside for about a month or so before I dive into it again.
I do hope that my process holds little tidbits of advice that are useful for everyone reading!