How We Write: Draft Writing, the beginning…

NANOWRIMO… Write a book in a month… Easy, right? NOT.

How about we just talk about writing every day for a week, for those of us who have trouble with the grand scope of NANO. One day at a time for seven days, how will you draft every day–with PURPOSE–so that by the end of a week you’re motivated and enthusiastic and encouraged enough to go for another week. Screw the month-long pressure of being finished with a completed novel?

once upon a time

I teach draft writing, even though it’s my downfall. I’m currently drafting a new book and it’s driving me CRAZY because I don’t like not knowing what’s going to happen next. But I can’t know, not for certain no matter how much I plan what I’m going to do, until I draft the darn thing.

So why all the drama?

Frailty, they name is woman???

No, I’m just a perfectionist who doesn’t feel good when what’s coming out of my mind rough isn’t the golden, beautiful thing I want it to be yet. I have to give myself permission to write crap for a while, in order to have something that I can polish later. Shudder. Not my happy place, but this week I’m going to dive in and rough stuff out regardless.

Join me, won’t you?

Here’s the plan:

  1. Write into a new story or book every day. EVERY day. Not thinking about it every day. WRITING it every day.
  2. Don’t get up from your computer until your daily progress is done. Finished. DONE. No exceptions.
  3. Don’t buy into the excuse that you can’t, because it’s too hard. It’s supposed to be hard, especially when you’re distracted or afraid or worried or mired in some other details of your life.
  4. Don’t think you’re alone. I’m right there with you. If I can deal with it, you can. So, deal with it ;o)

And you know I wouldn’t leave you floundering without some, hopefully, helpful suggestions to keep you writing, right?


Here are a few techniques that inspire me when I’m “improvising” new pages: 

  • Get that first sentence out. Make it amazing. Let it surprise and inspire you. Share it with your writing buddies, then write the NEXT sentence, and then the next… Each new idea will be easier, once you’ve tuned into your momentum.
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes and free write without stopping or allowing any distraction of any kind.  You’ll amaze yourself, how much you can get done.
  • Hook up with a small group and form a 30-minute, impromptu challenge that gets you all going at the same time, then all sharing your results. The enthusiasm is priceless.
  • Write a scene out of sequence. One you know will come later in the story/novel, that you’re no where near yet in the linear progression of the story. Write that exciting, thrilling moment you can’t wait to sink your teeth into, and see if it doesn’t inspire you to get back to where you were earlier and drive the story forward.
  • Write in a new point of view. One you haven’t tried in this story yet. Free write anything within the world of the story/book from this new person’s perspective to challenge you to see things in a different way.
  • Write the next scene in a different tense (shift from third to first, or from first person past to first person present, or to omniscient/narrative). Tell the story a different way, while you write the next sequential thing happening in the flow of your narrative. For many of us, this will be our true voice breaking through and showing us what we might be missing.

You’ll find your own way, once you lock into a process that works for you. And remember, this isn’t my zen, either. But it IS a critical part of every writer’s job–getting down to business, even if you’ll never be completely ready for it, and getting the words onto the page that will suprise and inspire you…so that you can come back later, if needed, and clean everything up.

More about drafting next week, so please come back.

And if you’re feeling light headed at the though of having to rewrite all that you’re drafting, look back at the last few weeks of How We Write for some pointers on how you can make that part of your process work, too:

And later in November/December, let’s get together in How We Write and talk planning. Seriously, my FAVORITE thing ;o)

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2 Responses to “How We Write: Draft Writing, the beginning…”

  1. “I have to give myself permission to write crap for a while, in order to have something that I can polish later. Shudder. Not my happy place, but this week I’m going to dive in and rough stuff out regardless.”

    Exactly! Exactly!

    I have a slush file. It started life as a story about two secondary characters in my first novel. It never went anywhere, but I kept hammering away at it, just writing about their daily life, because I hoped that sooner or later, something would pop out.

    I use it now to troll my head for ideas when I want to write about those two characters. I know it’s pure dreck that I will *never* publish, but it frees me to just type and see what happens. It pays off. One morning, I sat down at it — a week and 28k words later, I had something I could either polish as a novella or set as the last part of a novel.

    I’m not in my happiest place either, when I’m writing crap, but it beats the alternative – writing nothing. :)


  2. Emily Sewell says:

    Thanks, Anna! Great motivation.

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