Writing Strategies to get the Novel DONE (hopefully)

This Thanksgiving season, I’m thankful for this blog.  It has given me the courage to make my writing public, something I have never done before.  It has forced me to stick to a writing schedule.  I’ve posted every Monday and Thursday, except for a few misses here and there, since April.  It has pushed me and even gotten me to believe in myself as a writer. Amazingly, people actually read what I write, and some even comment on it and “like” it.

However, since school started this fall, blogging has taken a huge chunk of my precious writing time during the work week.  During the week, I’ve focused on my blog posts, and then I work on my novel on the weekends.  I’ve turned into a weekend warrior writer, and its killing me.  So far this fall, I’ve had a 10,000 word weekend, a 6000 word weekend, and a 4000 word weekend.  I realize for those participiting in NaNo, this is nothing, but for me, they are exhausting weekends. While I’ve learned that I can produce in large chunks, I have also learned that I don’t necessarily like to.

After I  have a “writing warrior” weekend, I take a break from my novel as I’m drained, and I tend focus on blogs, mine and everyone elses, all week.  This is a problem because my intended little break turns into a big break, and then I need a super productive weekend to maintain my goals and my vicious cycle starts all over again. I’ve decided that it would be much better for me to write on my novel a little bit each day rather than in giant, draining chunks.

This past weekend I didn’t get much written at all because I kept thinking I MUST write 8000 words. I got completely overwhelmed with that amount, so I didn’t writing anything.

Yesterday afternoon as I was not writing and distracting myself with activities related to writing, I was reading an article in Poets & Writers Magazine by best-selling author Ellen Sussman titled “Four Steps to Higher Productivity.” Yes, I note the irony here. Unfortunately the article is not available online as it’s a great piece.  She offers four steps to increasing writing productivity. They are:

  1. Do ten minutes of pre-writing meditation to clear your mind of distractions.
  2. Block the internet – it is NOT ALLOWED during writing time.  Research time is different than writing time.  The internet is a major distraction for me, so I think this one will be helpful.
  3. Write in 45 minute chunks and then take a mandatory 15 minute break before writing again, even if you’re on a roll.  As a full time writer, she is able to repeat this cycle three times a day, five-six days a week.  I can’t imagine having the time to write for three hours uninterrupted each day, but I can try for smaller chunks.
  4. Write daily. I try to write every day, but there are days when I don’t or I just focus on my blog and never write a word on my novel.  I need to be focusing on my big project at this point, and I need to focus on it every single day, not just on weekend marathon writing sessions.

I am going to experiment over the next few weeks and try her four steps.  The first step I am going to take will be to limit my blogging to once a week, each Thursday, with the occasional Monday.  I want to focus on getting my novel done.

Hopefully, her steps will help me do that.  I will let you know how it goes.

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12 thoughts on “Writing Strategies to get the Novel DONE (hopefully)

  1. Good luck and great idea, your blog is serving a useful purpose; I have felt the same way with mine, it is a kind of an affirmation of our writing, but as you rightly point it doesn’t get the novel finished, in fact it can take our focus away from the novel.

    Setting a reasonable daily target is a good idea and let the weekend be your bonus. I am saying this as much to myself as to you, you’re allowing me to articulate this by prompting me with your post.

    I have a small notebook which I carry with me and I note down thoughts for my blog reviews, trying to make the most of those opportunities when I’m out and have a spare moment to reflect that isn’t taking time away from other writing.

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    1. It’s a frustrating dilemma – wanting to write something that people read OR something to write that can ultimately have publication potential. So far, my plan is working well. I, too, try to carry around a notepad, but I have found I don’t really write in it. I have it in case inspiration strikes though. Thanks for reading.

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    1. I can’t wait to share it when “it’s done”! I keep thinking about how far I’ve come in the past six months, and I have to focus on that instead of how much further I have to go. Getting the first draft written I’m learning is really just barely getting started. I have so much to learn!

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing. I read her blog post and had to laugh – life is just full of distractions, but I agree with her conclusion that they aren’t necessarily distractions. Maybe I need to do a better job of appreciating that.

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    1. I’m so glad Debra Mae shared your blog. It’s a hard balance to find, or at least to figure out which sort of writing is most important to focus on at any given time. I’m realizing that working full time and having two busy teenagers at home, I can’t focus on all of it, and I’m getting to be okay with that.

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  2. Your post echoes something I’m going through myself. I love writing for my blog(s), but they are interfering with developing other stuff. I heard a writer on Saturday who does no social media at all except for marketing her books once they’re out. She simply writes. Sounds like heaven.

    In the meantime, I’m searching for a happy medium…..

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    1. I’m searching with you! I think we’ll find it. As aspiring writers there is so much pressure to use social media to get out there, but I have no idea how important it really is in terms of building a career. For me, its important to write because somebody may actually read what I write and that builds my confidence which at this point, is important.
      Hopefully, we’ll each find our own happy medium.

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