Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How I Write: Finishing a First Draft

Welcome to the fifth installment of the How I Write series, brainchild of Ansha Kotyk.  A group of writers are writing about how we write – scheduled for Wednesdays through August.  Please check back weekly. And click here for the list of all the writers participating and links to their blogs.

Today's topic: Finishing Your First Draft & Setting a Writing Schedule

I've finished plenty of first drafts--picture book manuscripts; nonfiction freelance projects; and waaayyy back, term papers, and scripts and reviews for my film classes.  However, there was nothing so satisfying as "finishing" my first novel on Thanksgiving morning 2009.  Of course, since then I've added 15K words and have "finished" it again.  But finishing the first draft was special.  It felt like I had accomplished something.

I wrote the novel during the "in-between" times--waiting for my daughter's art class to end, late at night when no one else was awake, lunch break at work, riding in the car (thinking only, of course).  I didn't really have a set schedule. Toward the end, I was able to establish a bit of a schedule in that I wrote every day (or almost every day).

Now, with more work-for-hire projects on my plate, a second novel sort-of started, and querying and blogging responsibilities piling up (not to mention critiques and beta reads), it makes sense to put myself on a schedule.  Luckily, the work-for-hire has deadlines--so that's easy to schedule.  I don't want the new WIP to have to wait until October (of course, if any agents ARE interested in my current being-queried ms, I want to have some new to tell them about as well!). 

I'm not sure this post really has a point.  Except that the topic reminds me that I should have a schedule or at least some goals (Tina's post from last week also underscores that necessity).  Let's see, I know I'll be spending evenings working on the outlines for my two WFH projects with deadlines of end of August and beginning of October for first drafts.  I try to write my blog posts in advance and schedule them to post on certain days--so I'll continue to do that.  I'd love to have 10K written on the new WIP by the end of the summer.

Not much of a schedule, I know.  But if I set myself up to write every day, it just might work.  And of course limit my twitter-stalking, and time-sucking web activities. ;)

Anybody have set schedules for your writing?


Andrea Mack said...

Kristine, I don't have a schedule so much as goals, e.g. I'm going to finish revising this novel by the end of July (or whatever). My other big one is to write or work on my writing every day. These two goals have made a huge difference in how much I get accomplished.

Anonymous said...

Schedules are a necessity. And there is something very validating and fulfilling about finishing a first draft!

Ansha said...

With 2 little kids it's a huge challenge to set a schedule. So my rule over the summer is to work in those inbetween times as much as I can every day. That's the plan!

Kay said...

I've tried setting goals but end up beating myself up when I don't meet them. For me, making the commitment to write every day works best. As school starts next month, I hope to learn to work in those in-between moments better. They may be all I get.

Justin W. Parente said...

My ms schedule consists of very in-depth outlines and equally in-depth character bios. I am currently on the 3rd overhaul of my first ms, and it has been a 4 year project now. Yes, this seems long, but this was the first project I went into without an outline. Future ms's will be much simpler. Anyone else outline?

Kris said...

Andrea, Laura, Ansha, Kay and Justin --thanks for the great comments about schedules. Consistency is out the window for me right now, but hopefully I'll get back on track soon!