Ten Tips for Writing a Rough Draft in 30 days

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November is NaNoWriMo month. Writing a novel in a month is a great goal. A daunting one for most of us. Not a perfect novel. Just the first draft. I usually don’t participate in NANoWriMo. Thanksgiving and lots of birthdays makes it too challenging. I tend to do the one-month marathon in March during Seekerville’s Speedbo. That month has worked the last few years for me. But you can choose any month to write your rough draft in 30 days.  First, you need to get a few things done before hand.

  1. Complete your research

By this I mean basic research. Setting, plot development, vocabulary for genre, backstory information such as medical terms, military speak or police procedure. You can add more detail for clothing etc. during the rewrite phase.

 

  1. Have notes, outlines. Character sketches and setting maps finished.

Notes help you remember what you wanted to write for specific scenes. Character sketches guide you in your character’s responses to situations. The sketch helps remind us of bad habits, fears or past hurts.

 

  1. Plot out your daily word goal 

The goal is up to you. Divide the require end count for your genre by the days you plan to write. You can plan a specific word count goal that gets you half way or three quarters through your manuscript. That’s usual enough of an incentive to finish it.

80,000 divided by 30= 2667 daily goal

45,000 divided by 30= 1500 daily goal

80,000 divided by 25= 3200 daily goal

45,000 divided by 25= 1800 daily goal

 

  1. Figure out what time(s) of the day are best for you to write each day.

I prefer mornings because my creative juice gets drained after 7pm. My day job days tend to produce a smaller word count unless inspiration hits at night.

 

  1. Choose your quiet place(s) for maximum productivity.

If you work better surrounded by noisy family, go for it. Most often there is that desk in your office, the kitchen table or the recliner in the den where creativity blooms. Sometimes a location away from home can help inspire reaching a word count goal.  I can’t do Starbuck or Panera’s because they’re just too noisy. But give me a study room at the library and I can knock it out of the park.

 

  1. Resolve to do your best and not quit writing until your 30 days have past.

Even if you don’t reach your word count goals because some days got complicated. You’ve managed to get more words on paper than if you hadn’t accepted the thirty-day challenge.

 

  1. Do it with friends.

NaNoWriMo and Speedbo encourage working with others. They provide help and encouragement all along the way. You can gather a few writer friends and hold each other accountable for your progress. Weight Watchers uses this same strategy. We know any hard thing is easier when we don’t feel alone. Writing is a lonely endeavor.

 

  1. Reward yourself

Set short and long-term rewards. A specially Latte or your favorite decadent treat for a weekly word count goal. Perhaps a week-end excursion for complete the 30-day challenge. If you tell your spouse you’re plan is a romantic get-away if you meet the challenge, they will probably do all they can to ensure you succeed.

 

  1. Post it on Social Media

This accomplishes two things. Additional accountability and early marketing for your book. Those who follow your progress are going to be curious about the finished project.

 

  1. Prayer and reflection

Time with the Lord brings clarity and encourages our spirit. Daily revitalization is a key to perseverance.

Hope you found these tips helpful for whenever you decide to take a 30-day challenge. My last two books began at Speedbo.  I’m gearing up to complete my next rough draft through Speedbo as well.

I’d love to hear how thirty-day challenges have grown your writing career. Share any other tips you’ve found helpful.

Speedbo: More than A Monthly Goal Challenge

Speedbo participant

In the midst of working, helping with grandchildren and meeting the needs of my elderly parents I embarked on an adventure I almost skipped. I joined Speedbo for the month of March.

Speedbo ended yesterday. For those of you who missed my blog explaining Speedbo let me catch you up. Speedbo is sponsored by Seekerville. You sign up to accomplish one or more writing goals during the 31 days of March. Unlike NANOWRIMO you can devote the month to editing rather than just write. What you write and how you want to reach your goals is up to you. Send your goals to Seekerville and get started.

My goal

I wanted to write a new novel rough draft. I missed my 62,000 word goal by 1200 words. My goal was foremost about writing daily and word count was a great marker. Two thousand words a day no matter what. Matter did interrupt a few days, and I made most of that up by going over my word count other days. Technically, I wrote four new blogs during the month so my total word count for the month exceeded 62,000. But this word count made me a little shy of a completed rough draft but closer than I have ever gotten in a 31 day time frame. I am so excited to look back at all the interruptions and realize I still did it.

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What I learned.

  • I can write any time of day. I don’t just need to write in the morning. Being a morning person I tend to lose momentum in the creative department as the day lengthens. A few days this month my most creative times were evenings.
  • I discovered I can write in noise. My 2 year old granddaughter has developed a shriek lately that is like chalk on a blackboard. When I’m in the zone screechy two-year olds and loud giggles don’t reach my conscience mind.
  • Putting butt in chair can become a bigger inspiration than any muse or word prompt when you have a deadline. Every day I sat at my laptop and wrote. I could feel the inspirational parts rise out of the mess of words.
  • Even under pressure my characters still tell me what to write. I think they might be a bit pushier under pressure.
  • Scriviner software makes writing a manuscript easier. I chose to write by scenes rather than chapters. Now I can rearrange and expand on them and place them in the order I want in the editing process.
  • I still got reading in even in the midst of this self-imposed deadline. I read fewer books but I found the time.
  • I still got blogs and devotions written. Doing those helped stimulate my brain when it got numb from writing my novel draft.
  • Less TV is a good thing. There are times my family has games shows and reruns on that can draw you to sit and rest your work-weary mind. Choosing to write instead got my word count done.

What I knew before I started

  • I will work hard to meet a deadline. I work better with a deadline. My writing muse seems to appear more easily under pressure.
  • I get the other important things done because I make time each day for those things.
  • Family will always come first with or without a deadline.
  • Having an accountability partner only added to my determination to succeed. I’d acquired a new accountability partner at the beginning of the year. Knowing I had to report my progress every week already had me fired up about writing.

Conclusion

I will do Speedbo again in the future; it is life changing. Now I hope the habit is embedded in my DNA. So I will continue creating my own deadlines to see if I can maintain momentum throughout the rest of 2015.

Have you ever done Speedbo or NANOWRIMO or anything like them?

 

 

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Writing a novel in a month during Speedbo

Speedbo participant

Well, I took the plunge. I signed up for Speedbo. It is Seekerville’s version of NaNoWriMO. Seekerville is a group of writers helping writers. I love their daily blog posts. Lots of helpful tips and great giveaways. Speedbo takes place in March. Which is better for me because there are no holidays to interrupt me and only one birthday. NANOWRIMO takes place in November and I have three birthdays in my family as well as Thanksgiving that month. My life is not any less hectic in March. It will be full of caring for elderly parents and helping with grandkids like always but only one birthday. I know there is no logic there.

Why Speedbo

I have wanted to attempt writing a novel in a month for a while. And you know—there is no time like the present. I love that Speedbo has no rules. The theme this year is No Limits. You can have goals of rewriting or editing every day or to write only one or two days a week. Your goals can be hours a day. And it doesn’t have to be a novel. Whatever you need to help you focus more seriously on writing. My only goal is to write 2,000 words a day on a new novel.

Preparation

I have my twice a week blog posts ready to go for March and whatever other writing inspiration I get will have to wait on the back burner. I may get delayed when my editor sends me her edits for my present novel. But most of my free time (what there is of it) will be committed to writing the worst possible novel in 31 days. No stopping to correct just getting the words down. And if it comes out half as good as I hope for vomit on the page I’ll spend the next several months rewriting and editing and getting critiques to whip it into shape. I might even submit the first pages for a critique at the Write To Publish conference in June. The month is for beginnings. No one in their right mind would submit that mess to a publisher.

My novel idea has been ruminating in my mind for a few years. A few rough chapters rest in my PC. I will be using Scriviner for this project. A software program designed for writers. I took a course to learn how to use it but then I haven’t used it much. I even have Scriviner for Dummies to reference. Scriviner helps organize my chapters, outlines, notes and stuff. I just need to use it daily to feel more comfortable with it.

I need to do a little research this week and map out my settings before I begin on the first. Get the characters faces firmly planted in my mind. I have already filled out DiAnn Mills’ character sketch template for my hero and heroine. I’ll let you know how it all turns out whether I succeed or fail. Even if I fail I am sure I will have made some progress toward a first draft. I am going to purpose to have a glass half full attitude. I’ll get some help from Seekerville’s daily encouragements and comments from other Speedbo participants. Now that I’ve revealed my plan to you I will feel more compelled to get the job done. After all you will be waiting to hear the results. 🙂

Want to join me? There’s still time. Check out Speedbo rules.

Have you ever participated in NANOWRIMO or Speedbo or attempted to write a first draft in a month? I’d love to hear your story. Please, please post it below.

 

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