Writing Tips Wednesday: 5 tips to keep you motivated to finish that first draft

Wednesday Writing Tips

Do you ever find yourself drifting? Not motivated to finish that draft? Get half way through and want to start on a new project?

Well, you’re not alone. A lot of writers feel this way. I know I feel it at times. I can’t tell you how many first drafts I started and then abandoned. How many unfinished manuscripts liter my closet and hard drive.

Now, whether this is from distraction, or the stories I abandoned not being big enough to carry all the way through to the end, one thing is for sure, I find new motivation every day.

As a writer you have to discipline yourself to keep going. Finish it. No matter if you think it’s crap.

I know I found this difficult at first. So find motivation to keep going.

Here are five tips to keep you motivated to finish that first draft:

  1. Give yourself a deadline

A reasonable one of course. If you work a day job and only have 2 hours to write a night, don’t set a deadline to finish a full length manuscript in a week, two weeks, etc. By doing that, you will only disappoint yourself and lose your motivation to keep going.

So give yourself a reasonable deadline. If you start on a Monday, give yourself a week to two weeks for research, a week for character bios, a week for your outline (if you outline), a chapter a day or every two days, and so on.

You could break it down in several ways, whichever works best for you. But, it’s a good idea to have one big deadline, with other smaller deadlines along the way.

For example, let’s hypothetically say I am starting a new project today, July 13, 2016. All I have is my idea so far. I want to finish it by the end of the year to have it go into revisions by January 1, 2017. Great, there is my deadline to finish my first draft. (This may seem like a lot of time, but this is just for informational purposes.)

Main Deadline:

December 31, 2016 – Completed First draft.

Smaller Deadlines:

July 31, 2016 – Research completed (Setting, Plot, Theme, etc.)

August 15, 2016 – Character Bios Completed (I know my Protagonist, I know my Antagonist, I know my side characters. I have their voice, dialect, back ground, and know how they fit into the world I will create from the research I completed.)

August 29, 2016 – Outline completed, if you outline. (I know the basic chapter outlines, scenes, how it will end. Can spot some inconsistencies in the story, I know where it’s going, and I’m ready to begin.)

November 1, 2016 – Reach half way point of the first draft. 9 weeks from when I started.

The next deadline after that is to finish. You can see how breaking it down and giving yourself deadlines can help. You have a goal, something smaller you’re working towards, other than to just finish. You have stepping stones.

2.  Don’t second guess yourself.

When you’re writing, self-doubt can rear its ugly head. This is normal. But don’t let it stop you in your tracks. remind yourself that every writer feels this way. Remind yourself how the first draft is not the final draft. The point of the first draft is to get the story down. It is much easier to edit and revise a story when there is a completed story.

If you find yourself stopping because you don’t feel like your writing is up to par, or the story is all that great, know that you are not alone. Reach out to other writers, take a writing course if it makes you feel better, visit blogs of writers who discuss the difficulties of writing. But then get back to it. Don’t lament on word choices or sentence structure, those can all be changed in revisions and editing. Don’t compare it to what you’re reading. Not yet. Just get it down.

3. Write Everyday. Every. Day.

The only way to finish is to write. No matter if you write one sentence, or an entire chapter. Write everyday. To grow as a writer, you have to write. So do it. No excuses.

4. Set a writing schedule, and guard it with your life.

You have no idea how helpful this can be. When you schedule yourself an exact time to be writing, you no longer allow yourself the excuse of “I just don’t have the time today.” No, you do. Schedule other things around your writing block.

If you can only write at night because you’re busy during the day, great, set that time. Do not let anything else creep into this time. If you only have time at 5a.m., great, set your alarm and get up and write.

This writing block is sacred. Keep it safe, guard it, protect it, and don’t let anyone or anything (barring an emergency) interrupt it.

5. Find motivation in your peers.

Become friends with other writers. Writers who have finished a Novel. When you find yourself slumping, slacking, or just down right unmotivated to keep writing, reach out. Ask them what they did to keep themselves going. Read through twitter (I’m not kidding, you’d be surprised some of the motivation and support you can get there).

So there you have it, 5 tips to stay motivated to finish your first draft. These have helped me to stay motivated and go from unfinished manuscripts, to one full completed and one in progress.

How about you? Do you have additional tips to add to the list? Let’s hear them!

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Monday Motivation & Humor

Good Monday Morning!

I will admit, I was a little slow moving this morning. Not really wanting to get out of bed. It didn’t feel like I had a weekend we had so much to do. All I wanted to do was stay in my bed and pretend it was Sunday.

Unfortunately, when you are a grown up and have bills to pay, that’s not really possible. So I dragged myself out of bed, got dressed, and headed to my office.

So here I sit. But, while browsing over the images I was going to share, I found my mood lightening, my body waking up, and just feeling better.

Which, is why I thought humor and motivations on Monday’s would be a great way to start the week. So here we go, a few funny and motivational images for the writers and readers.

 

This Writers Life: Hooray for time.

It’s Friday morning and I am sitting at my desk, coffee in hand, half sad and a little happy.

You see, all through June and into this month we have had my step-kids here. It’s been a busy, noisy, full house. While I love having them here, and I know my husband enjoys having them around, at the end of this weekend they go back to their mothers.

I’m sad because I will miss them. My husband will miss them. My kids will miss them. But, a little happy too because it will be a little less chaotic, and a lot less loud. I will be able to get more writing done, which is good.

But for now, it’s Friday, and we have the weekend left with them. One last weekend to spend together as a family. We have time.

So what’s on the agenda?

Friday: Get some (hopefully) writing done today and then dinner out. Our usual ritual with them. Which tonight, it will be Dave & Busters. Which is a grown up Chuckie Cheese for those who don’t know. We all love it.

Saturday: All about the pool. We have a cook out planned with the rest of our family so that they can see my step-kids before they go back to their mothers. Sadly, no writing planned.

Sunday: Reading, Relaxing, and trying not to focus on how the the clock is counting down to their eventual departure.

*sigh*

At least our grocery bill will look better. Silver lining.

Wednesday Writing Tips: 5 tips on writing dialogue

So to kick off my Wednesday Writing Tips I have decided to start with 6 tips on writing great dialogue.

  1. Explaining when you don’t need to.

Ex: “I can’t believe she said that! Well, I’ll just have to give her a piece of my mind when I see her next.” Jane exclaimed angrily.

Ok, written on the fly, so not the best example. But, the point is, in the example Jane is going to give someone a piece of her mind. The whole line conveys that she’s angry. Tacking on ‘angrily’ at the end is not needed. Try to avoid this.

2. Watch your Tags.

 – he said

 – she said

 – they said

Sometimes it’s ok to say ‘he said’ but watch how many times you’re using tags. Sometimes it’s not always necessary and can impede your flow.

3. Pay attention to conversations around you

This is where being a people watcher comes in handy. If you’re sitting at a coffee shop, or in a book store, or a park, listen to those around you. How are they interacting with each other? How are they moving? What is their body language like? There is more to great dialogue than just what your characters say.

4. Give each character distinct speech patterns.

Now, obviously, your female main character is not going to sound anything like your antagonist. Or at least, she shouldn’t. And her little sister who is only seven is not going to sound anything like the captain of the football team. Different people, different ages, will all have a different way of speaking. Their word choices.

So when you are writing for your character, make sure they sound like themselves. You don’t want everyone to sound the same where your reader will have trouble distinguishing who is speaking without having to reread it.

5. READ IT OUT LOUD!

No, seriously. This is one of the best things you can do to hear how it’s flowing. When you read something aloud you will stumble when the flow isn’t right. If you stumble, you know something is wrong and you need to look at it again. I always read any dialogue I write out loud.

*BONUS*

6. Just let it flow.

And finally, just let it flow. When you first start writing a draft just let it flow as it comes to you. Obsesses over it after you have finished. Don’t stop progress to agonize over your dialogue choices. It’s much easier to edit your dialogue after you have written it. So just keep going.

So there you have it. Five plus a bonus tip on writing dialogue. Do you have any to add to it? Let’s hear them.

Monday Motivation & Humor

Fireworks night sky

Happy Fourth of July! For those of you in the US.

I have decided to start something new. Previously, I had just been blogging about whatever popped into my head. No real structure other than knowing I wanted to post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And so far, I have been good at keeping that schedule.

But I needed something. Some structure to my schedule. Something so that I always knew what I was going to blog about when I sat down to do it.

So here it is.

Mondays: Motivation & Humor

Wednesdays: Writing Tips I have picked up

Fridays: A writers life.

That’s my plan for now. But since blogging is an ever changing thing, this, over time, may change as well. For now though, this is my plan, and I hope everyone enjoys!

Now, onto the motivation and humor portion of this post!

The Solitary or not so Solitary Life

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So if you were like me growing up, you thought that writers hid themselves away, toiling over their work. Agonizing over every word, sentence, and punctuation. They locked themselves away from all forms of life to finish the next great novel.

Well, part of that is true, I have found.

The parts where you drive yourself crazy over a word choice. Pull your hair out over sentence structure. Work for hours on end when the muse has you in her clutches.

What I found not to be true? The hiding away part. At least, for me.

I need that interaction. That contact.

I need to see facial expressions, hear voices (that are actually talking to me and not just my characters in my head), converse, laugh, have fun. Without it, I don’t seem to have any inspiration.

I had always believed when I was younger that the life of an author was a solitary one. While I do spend many hours on my own, in my office, writing away, I am not actually alone.

There is always someone in my house. Whether it’s my kids, or my husband. Someone is talking, someone is laughing, someone is running through the house.

They say that to be a good writer, you should write what you know. Well, how are you supposed to write great dialogue if you don’t hear it? How are you supposed to describe body language if you don’t see it? How are you… well, you get the idea.

For me, hiding in my office for days at a time has hindered my inspiration. I find myself struggling with scenes, characters, their interactions. I have to get out. Go into the world. If it’s to people watch at the Arts Market, or just go swimming with my kids. I need that to keep writing.

So don’t think that in order to write you have to lock yourself away and hide from the world. Go out. Gain experiences. Live life. And then, come back and write about it.