Wednesday, July 14

How I Write: Week Five – Getting the First Draft Completed

How-I-Write2-banner I’ve done it. I really have. I started and completed a category length novel in November but still I struggle with finishing my current project. Life intrudes and it’s not always easy to ‘show up’ when you’re either in a car on the road or in someone else’s house. There are a few things that have helped me soldier on.

Rigid Expectations – Keeping to my goals no matter what has helped at times. Showing up and getting my fingers on the keys seems to be the best way to go. The first few words (or hundred or so) may be painful, each one getting ripped out from me but, at the end of the day, I’ll be grateful for each one. Keeping a calendar, graph, or data chart is a great way to keep yourself moving. It’s difficult to not reach a goal when you’ve been doing so for a period of time. It’s always motivating to keep from ‘breaking the chain.’

Treating Yourself with Compassion – Treating yourself unkindly is one sure way to block the words from coming. It was a hard lesson to learn but one I’ve taken to heart this summer. It doesn’t mean you take your writing less seriously than the other stuff in your life. It’s knowing when you need a break from those big number days. It’s knowing how to pull yourself away from the keyboard when your wrists are hurting or your back is aching or when your family needs you most.

Writing Inspiration – When a book or article gets my energy up to pound the keys, I take note. These are the tools I refer to when I need a little push. Give me some Anne Lamott or an article by Stephen Pressfield and my fingers begin to get an itch. The thing is to know when you need the extra push and to give yourself permission to seek it out.

Story Inspiration – Sometimes all you need is the very inspiration that comes from your characters or plot. This is where creating vision boards or files may fit in to the writing process. I’ve collected several images and photographs related to my novel. Some are related to scenes, while others are simply representational of the very feel of my novel. The same goes for music. There are songs that just get me from thinking about the story to feeling it. Once you get to feeling it, it’s hard to keep from getting those words out.

A Group of Writers – Writing is a lonely activity. Joining a group of like-minded writers online or in-person can be a great way to keep you going when you feel like giving up. Whether you’re ready for a critique or an ‘old hand’ at giving them, the right writer’s group will introduce you to different writing styles and give you accountability. Finding a writer’s group by be as easy as visiting your local library’s bulletin board or searching online. If you’re first foray into a group doesn’t succeed, don’t give up. Not all groups will be for everyone.


Click on the How I Wrote Logo above to find a listing of the other writers participating in this blog series.


Vision Boards as a Writer's Tool – a small article on how to build a vision board.

Deviant Art – I love this site for inspirational images. Whether your setting is a city or a fishing port, you’ll find something to inspire you.

Misusing Writer’s Groups and Critiquing Improperly – Two articles by Bob Mayer about writer’s groups and giving critiques.


Bird by Bird – I love her voice and I love what she has to say. This Anne Lamott book is one every writer should read.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles – Learn about Resistance and how to beat it with Stephen Pressfield


Ansha said...

I love Deviant Art! And I've read about vision boards for personal growth (and have been itching to try one) but I haven't created one for my wips... fascinating. I'll have to check it out!

Tatiana Caldwell said...

Nice tips in this post. Also, I keep hearing so much about The War of Art - I really need to check it out.

Kris said...

Great suggestions Isabelle. Inspiration from others is a great way to push through the doldrums.

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