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#FirstDraft60 Day 36 — Timer Tuesday (#1k1h Writing-Sprint Day)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

#FirstDraft60 | KayeDacus.comLast week, we discussed 1k1h writing sprints and how useful they can be in helping us build our word count and our story’s momentum when doing a marathon writing challenge like this. On Tuesdays, the challenge will be scheduling and completing at least one 1k1h writing sprint some time during the day.

Today, I will be doing two 1k1h sprints and will start and end them on Twitter using the #FirstDraft60 hashtag at 3:30 p.m. (Central) and 7:30 p.m. (Central).

I’d love to make these writing sprints (or at least one a week) a “team” effort with as many of you participating as possible. The more support (and accountability) there is, the more successful we’ll all be! But if those times don’t work for you, go ahead and pick the times that work best for you.

1k1h Tips for Success

  1. Let anyone within your household know that you need one uninterrupted hour to try to head off at the pass any interruptions.
  2. Set a timer. This is most important. Don’t do this by just watching the clock. You’ll find yourself only watching the clock and not getting anything written. Setting a timer allows you to forget about the time and concentrate fully on writing.
  3. Prepare yourself before starting your timer. Re-read the last few pages you wrote (without editing/revising!) to get your head back into the story and figure out where you need to pick up. Review your outline and/or character pages in your Story Bible. And then put all of that away so you don’t use those to procrastinate during the hour.
  4. If you listen to music while writing (I recommend instrumental so that you don’t get distracted by the lyrics), have it set up and playing before starting your timer. Use earphones, even if you’re working at home, to block out any sounds that might pull you out of your story.
  5. If you can’t listen to music while writing, I recommend wearing the earphones anyway. People are less likely to interrupt you (at home or working somewhere like a coffee shop) if you have them in/on—and they help block out those distracting sounds.
  6. Make sure your writing space (both physical and mental) is set up and ready to go before you start your timer.
  7. In other words, make sure that about five to ten minutes before you start the 1k1h sprint, you’re in the process of getting ready to write.
  8. Silence or turn off your cell phone (unless you’re using it as your timer—then don’t turn it off). Close your Internet browser. Close Facebook and Twitter (as soon as I give the “start” signal, of course). Close your email program if you use something like Outlook that isn’t web-based. Eliminate all distractions!

Don’t Know How to Start Writing?
If you aren’t sure how to start writing when the hour starts, even after re-reading what you’ve previously written, here are a few suggestions.

  • Which character had the viewpoint in the last scene you wrote? Start with a different character in this scene.
  • Still not sure what to write? Try this prompt:
    Character walked into the room. Character saw a piece of paper tacked to the wall on the other side of the room. Character walked across the room and took the piece of paper down. Character read the piece of paper. The piece of paper said . . .
  • If that prompt doesn’t work, try the exercise of taking your character to the market to buy food.
  • If you can’t think of what the “next” scene is that comes after the one you just left off with in your previous writing session, start writing something you know comes later in the story that you already have a good idea for. Though I recommend writing your story in linear fashion (from beginning to end) instead of jumping around, sometimes you need to write stuff that comes later if you already have a clear idea of the scene in your head, just to make sure you don’t lose it. And that can also help you figure out what comes between what you’ve written so far and that future scene and help you to fill in the gap next time.

Hopefully, I’ll “see” you at 3:30 and 7:30 (Central) this afternoon/evening. If not, don’t forget to check in with your progress and how you do with your own 1k1h sprint(s) today!

For a 75,000-word manuscript, today’s cumulative word-count should be at least 15,000 words.

#FirstDraft60 Day 35 — Monday Motivation from Meg Cabot

Monday, October 5, 2015

#FirstDraft60 | KayeDacus.comOn Mondays, I’m going to share some writing advice/motivation from authors who may be well known to you, or whom you may never have heard of. Hopefully, you’ll find inspiration or a new way of looking at or thinking about writing from these little clips.

Today, our Monday Motivation comes from bestselling YA novelist (author of The Princess Diaries) Meg Cabot:

Hope you’re doing well with your writing. Don’t forget to check in with your progress!

For a 75,000-word manuscript, today’s cumulative word-count should be at least 12,500 words.

#FirstDraft60 Day 34 — Sunday Story Reflections

Sunday, October 4, 2015

#FirstDraft60 | KayeDacus.comOn Sundays, we take a moment to step back and think about our writing from a wider view. In order to do that, I’ll post some guided questions—feel free to answer them here with as much or little detail as you’d like; or answer them on your own blog or on Facebook. Or just write the answers down in a private journal or notebook. The important thing is to actually think through and write down your answers.

Because we’re now in the writing portion of the challenge, there will be a much narrower focus to the question(s) posed—and we’re going to turn that focus onto the story itself.

Reflections for Day 34

  • What have you learned about your main characters so far?
  • Are your characters staying on track, or have you already had to make revision notes in your Story Bible for things that will need to change in the revision process for the second draft?
  • Do you still look forward to spending time with your characters every day?

I look forward to seeing your answers and will be posting mine soon. And don’t forget to check in with your word-count progress!

#FirstDraft60 Day 33 — Saturday Review and Catch-Up

Saturday, October 3, 2015

#FirstDraft60 | KayeDacus.comSaturdays throughout this challenge are going to be our days to review what we’ve covered during the week, and to catch up on anything we fell behind with. And now that we’re writing, it’s time to catch up with word count if we’ve fallen behind during the previous week, too.

When doing any kind of a challenge like this in which the goals are cumulative, it’s always good to build in a day (or two) to be able to get caught up on anything we’ve fallen behind with. Because most of us work during the week, we have more time to do this on the weekends. So until October 30, be sure to set aside time on your weekend, whether on Saturday or Sunday to stop, update your Story Bible, and get caught up on your word count.

This isn’t permission to slack off during the week. It’s to give you permission to not beat yourself up if you don’t meet your daily word-count goals or if circumstances make it impossible to write on a day you’d planned to. As long as you give it your best effort and the complete it by the end of the week, you’ll be able to stay on track.

So let’s begin.

Assignments for Saturday:

  1. Review everything you’ve written so far. Remember that we’re draft writing, so don’t spend too much time revising—but making a few corrections or revisions/additions here or there is okay. But it’s better during this process to make notes (in the Revisions section of your Story Bible and/or in comments in your document) of what you’re going to want to change once you finish the first draft and start your rewrites/revisions for your second draft.
  2. Update your Story Bible and Style Guide based on everything you wrote this week.
  3. If you’re behind on word count, do some 1k1h sprints this weekend to get caught up (and possibly get ahead).
  4. Once you’ve caught up and have everything updated, do some “what if” brainstorming and see if you can come up with some additional ideas for either the characters themselves or for your story/plot. Have fun with this. And if you feel inspired to write some more, do it!
  5. Check in and let us know how you’re doing, what you’ve accomplished, and what you hope to achieve this weekend.

Above all else, have a great weekend!

#FirstDraft60 Day 32 — Friday is SWAT Day!

Friday, October 2, 2015

#FirstDraft60 | KayeDacus.comIt’s Friday! It’s also the first Friday of the writing portion of our sixty-day challenge.

Yesterday, I was traveling, so I didn’t really get a chance to write a full post (I had to do it on my phone in the car at a rest stop—thank goodness for technology!) to explain how we’ll be doing our check-ins during this half of the challenge. Every day, I’ll be posting something on the blog and will encourage you to post your daily goal, as well as what you accomplished the day before.

On Fridays, though, I want to know about your full writing week. What were your greatest successes during the week? What was your favorite line/bit that you wrote? What did you learn about yourself, your characters, and/or your story during the week’s work? What are you most proud of yourself for doing this week when it came to your writing? What are you proud of yourself for accomplishing?

In the business world, there’s a planning model called SWOT—which is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Around here, we’re going to use SWAT, but we’re going to do it differently, so check in with the following recap for your week:

  • Self-Evaluation (how do you think you did? what can/do you want to do differently next week? what did you learn about yourself as a person or as a writer? what didn’t you do or finish that you wanted to? etc.)
  • Word count (total for the week, Saturday through today)
  • Awesome Accomplishments (breakthroughs, discoveries, highest daily word-count ever, etc.)
  • Tidbits too good not to share

If you don’t want to share this stuff publicly, that’s okay. You can add a section to your Story Bible or start a journal (or add this to your existing journal) to keep track of this. But don’t skip doing this—I think that in the future, when you look back either on what you accomplished during this challenge or (heaven forbid) why you gave up on it, the insights you’ll gather later with hindsight on your thoughts during the challenge will be invaluable.

Happy writing!

#FirstDraft60 Day 31 — TODAY WE WRITE!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

#FirstDraft60 | KayeDacus.comHave you already started? Are you geared up and champing at the bit, waiting for your lunchbreak or for the end of the work day in order to get started writing?

Today is our first writing day of the challenge. Please check in when you can with your goal of what you intend to accomplish today, and then don’t forget to actually do it! Then tomorrow, you can check in with today’s results and your next goal.

And if you need a little help getting started with your opening scene, you may want to review this post.

Happy writing!

#FirstDraft60 Day 30 — Tomorrow We Start Writing

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

#FirstDraft60 | KayeDacus.comWe’ve gone through twenty-nine days of prep work in order to get us, hopefully, to the point at which we’re more prepared to sit down and start writing a story than we’ve ever been in our lives. But, if you’re anything like me . . . you’ve probably fallen a bit behind on the planning. (Confession time: I just yesterday figured out the main conflict/dark moment for my story because I just yesterday figured out my heroine’s internal conflicts.)

Today is the last day of preparation before we set everything else aside—all the research, all the character casting/ development, all the outlining, all the preplotting, all the worldbuilding—and start writing.

I usually post these instructions on Saturdays (and you’ll see them in a slightly modified version this coming Saturday), but it’s important that we spend time doing this today, before we start writing tomorrow.

Time to Catch Up:

  1. Review everything you’ve done so far and catch-up with anything you couldn’t get to or couldn’t finish during the previous 29 days.
  2. Update your Story Bible and Style Guide based on everything you came up with in the past 29 days.
  3. Once you’ve caught up and have everything updated, do some “what if” brainstorming with your character information and backstories and see if you can come up with some additional ideas for either the characters themselves or for your story/plot. Have fun with this. And if you feel inspired to write some scenes, do it!
  4. Check in and let us know how you’re doing, what you’ve accomplished, and what you still need to get done today in order to start writing tomorrow.


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