Skip to content

#FirstDraft60 Day 1: Welcome to the Sixty-Day First Draft Challenge!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

#FirstDraft60 |
Welcome to the official first day of FirstDraft60, a sixty-day challenge to plan and write a manuscript first draft. I hope you spent some time yesterday ruminating on the questions posed and reviewing the planned schedule for the challenge. Today, the questions aren’t rhetorical. Following those are some tips and considerations to keep in mind over the next sixty days.

Determining Your Commitment and Motivation—Guided Questions
Today, it’s time to not just think about but actually answer some questions that will hopefully kick-start your planning and preparation for this project. (Adapted from Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt.) You can answer them here in the comments, or if you want to blog through this yourself, please share the link to your post with your answers to these questions:

  1. Why do you want to write?
  2. What will finishing this project in sixty days mean to you? Do you think that completing this challenge will change you? How?
  3. If this is your first attempt at completing a manuscript, how do you think finishing it will impact your life?
    OR, If you’ve completed multiple manuscripts, what will finishing another one mean to you?
  4. What will happen if the people closest to you don’t understand, support, and encourage you during this challenge?
  5. Imagine how you will feel on October 31 knowing that you’ve completed this challenge. How can you use that to motivate you during the next sixty days?
  6. What is the ONE thing you think you’re going to need the most to help you accomplish your goal for this challenge?

Considerations to Get You Through This Challenge
(Again, adapted from Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt.)

  • Set a specific time every day to write. The book suggests doing it first thing in the morning before you get distracted and pulled in different directions. Mornings may not work for you, though. So choose a time that you can consistently set aside every day and make an appointment with yourself—set a reminder on your phone or computer if you need to, block out the time on your calendar. This is a commitment you are making to yourself. Your owe it to yourself to make it important. Start practicing this month by doing our FirstDraft60 preparation activities during your appointed writing time. If you make setting that time aside a habit now, it will be that much easier.
  • Commit to cutting out frivolous/non-productive activities. September and October may be hard months to do this for those of us who are TV addicts, since most of our favorite shows are premiering new seasons and all of the new fall shows will be debuting. But completing this first draft takes priority. If you don’t have a DVR, plan to have your prep work (Sept.) or word count (Oct.) complete before the show comes on; otherwise, save them on your DVR as rewards for when you meet your goals. Also—your writing time should be phone-free and Internet-free. No distractions.
  • Track your progress. We’ll get into this more in a future post, but consider tracking writing-related activities besides just word count. Outlining, making revision notes, brainstorming, character casting—this month, you’ll be doing a lot that’s writing related but not actually building word count. It’s all time spent on your story, so why not track it to see just how much you’re really accomplishing.
  • Meals—consider planning and precooking (or at least pre-preparing) meals for the upcoming week on the weekends when you have more time. Here’s a wonderful YouTube Vlogger who has fantastic videos with ideas for how to plan ahead of time to make the most of your limited time during the week.
  • Prioritize. The writing portion of this challenge is only 30 days. What can you give up or put on hold for 30 days in order to achieve the goal of a completed first draft?
  • Say no. For the 30 days of this challenge in which you’ll be writing, don’t take on any new responsibilities or obligations that aren’t absolutely required. You have, right now, 30 days’ warning in which to prepare yourself for this. Start practicing now. Is it a matter of life or death? Does it put your job at risk to say no? Or are you just risking someone else getting miffed at you? You’ve already made a commitment to this challenge. Isn’t your commitment to yourself and your writing just as important—if not more so—than anything else that might come up? Practice telling people that you have a commitment right now, but as soon as you’re finished, you’d be more than happy to help them out.

Your Questions, Suggestions, and Ideas
Once you answer the Guided Questions above, don’t forget to also post your own questions, suggestions, and ideas to help encourage and support each other.

  1. Carol Moncado permalink
    Tuesday, September 1, 2015 10:39 am

    YAY! I may try to blog it later but… just quickly… I finished a readthrough/edit of my (really short) Christmas novella yesterday and am working on the last one before I send it to my proofer (it’s only 52 printed pages). Then I’m not sure what my next task will be but I WOULD like to get my next first draft done by the end of October. I’ll be doing two at once – the first draft of book 3 and edits on some other stuff… We’ll see… :).


    • Tuesday, September 1, 2015 12:09 pm

      I feel you, girl. There were points in my “full-time writing career” in which I was working on four or five books all at the same time—writing one, editing the previous, planning the next, marketing for an upcoming release, supporting the one that just released . . .

      And I still managed to get my word counts in. Now, with no writing-related obligations or activities at all, I can’t manage to write at all.

      I’m sure you’ll do great. How long is your next manuscript expected to be?


  2. Ramona Richards permalink
    Tuesday, September 1, 2015 10:56 am

    Kaye, I just found this, but I think it’s what I need to get my next LIS submission done. Only 55K, but I want to add a short story to the end. Much of the LIS is plotted, but I need to do character work and an annotated outline. In prep, tonight I’m going to clean my dining room and lay out plotting boards for both ideas, and start filling in the squares. Thanks for doing this!


    • Tuesday, September 1, 2015 12:11 pm


      I’m so happy you found this and that you’re going to participate!

      Check out the printable calendar in the previous post, and you’ll see how we’re going to break down the different elements of planning the story—next week’s focus is on character development. Mainly because that’s what really helps me get into my stories.

      Would love to see a photo of your dining room table/planning boards in progress! 😉


  3. Tuesday, September 1, 2015 12:06 pm

    I’ve been thinking about these questions, and how to answer them, since I wrote this post a couple of days ago. I’m still not quite sure how to answer them, but here’s my best effort.

    Why do you want to write?
    I want to start writing again because I miss not only the comradeship and community with other writers, but I also miss the passion I used to have for writing. And I miss the fun and excitement of unraveling characters and then knitting a story together with them. (How’s that for a metaphor?)

    What will finishing this project in sixty days mean to you? Do you think that completing this challenge will change you? How?
    It will mean that I didn’t spend years writing and tens of thousands of dollars going to graduate school in order to do something for four or five years and then never do it again. I’m hoping that it will change me back into someone who enjoys writing for the sake of writing and helps me dispel the negative feelings coming from the bad experience I had writing my last two books.

    If this is your first attempt at completing a manuscript, how do you think finishing it will impact your life?
    OR, If you’ve completed multiple manuscripts, what will finishing another one mean to you?

    At this point in my life, I’ve been writing for about 30 years. I’ve completed fourteen manuscripts, eleven of which are published. By all rights, I can call myself “an author.” I’m hoping that finishing one more manuscript will mean I can go back to calling myself “a writer.” I’m also hoping that it will spur me on to want to continue creating and writing more and more stories.

    What will happen if the people closest to you don’t understand, support, and encourage you during this challenge?
    I think this is where those of us who are published have an easier time than those who aren’t. I know I have the support of my friends and family—and a large circle of acquaintances and readers—in my writing endeavors. However, my biggest challenge is encouraging and supporting myself. As I mentioned, my experience writing my last two books (the last one, especially) was emotionally harrowing and physically draining. Now, whenever I sit down to try to write, I have that “sense memory” of that time (and not all of the years before then, when I had fun writing) and I allow myself to give up because I don’t want to experience that again. I’ve got to put myself back in the mindset of where I was pre-publication, when I wrote because there was a story that just wouldn’t let me go. And because there was something about the craft of writing that I wanted to learn. And not because anyone was expecting me to. Truthfully, all of the encouragement I get from others around me (“When’s your next story coming out?” or “I love your books and would love to read more!”) while wonderful and humbling, can become more of a hindrance than a help to me because I feel like there’s an expectation—one that I’m bound to fail. (Not that I want people to stop—I love hearing from my readers!)

    Imagine how you will feel on October 31 knowing that you’ve completed this challenge. How can you use that to motivate you during the next sixty days?
    I can vividly remember the day I wrote “The End” on my first completed manuscript. I was thirty years old and had been writing prolifically for more than half my life. But I’d never finished anything. So when I finally did, I laughed. I cried. I danced around the living room. ALONE. It was at once both the happiest and loneliest moment of my life to that point. I’d only been a member of a writing group, American Christian Romance Writers (what became ACFW) for a year, and it didn’t even have 200 members at that point. I didn’t know anyone well enough to call or get together with to celebrate. Most of my friends knew I was writing, but they wouldn’t have understood the emotional and visceral reaction that came from finishing that manuscript.

    Later, writing “the end” came with a vast sense of relief, because it usually came right as I was running up against a contracted deadline. While there was still something of an emotional reaction, it was more about being happy that I’d met another deadline, fulfilled another contract—and also with a sense of worried anticipation as I immediately started thinking about the next book, which was usually due three to five months later.

    What I want to feel on October 31 is that sense of elation, excitement, energy, and enthusiasm that I felt in April 2002 when I wrote “The End” on What Matters Most. And I’m going to remind myself of that feeling every day when I sit down to write in order to banish the negative feelings I’ve allowed to fester for the last few years.

    What is the ONE thing you think you’re going to need the most to help you accomplish your goal for this challenge?
    Internal fortitude. Self-discipline. Aren’t those both the same sides of one “thing”? 😉 I’m lazy and a procrastinator and am more than willing to put something off on the flimsiest of excuses. So for me, the idea of using my DVR and the new shows coming on as rewards for finishing my word count every day in October is going to be just the tip of the ice burg when it comes to rescheduling and restructuring my life to once again make writing not just a priority but one of my primary sources of entertainment.


  4. Daphne Woodall permalink
    Tuesday, September 1, 2015 10:26 pm

    So is this where we post comments, questions and our goal? I was afraid people were posting somewhere else and I was missing them somehow. I don’t twitter either.
    So I’m Daphne Woodall and my goal is 75,000 words which may be bold considering I’ve never finished a complete first draft.
    I plan to write from 9-12 noon with a similar time commitment on the weekend working around church and my husband.

    Kaye thanks for sharing your answers to the questions. How many participants do you have so far. I see two I know with Ramona Richards (sat in her class on writing a draft in 30 days at BRMCWC) and Jodie Bailey who lives in my area; both published authors.

    Please let us know if there is something we should be doing as far as posting. I had already put together a notebook with research, notes, character pics for my two main characters. So I’ve answered today’s questions and hope to stay on top of the challenge. And as I told Jodie espresso beans may be what I need sometimes to stay on task.


    • Wednesday, September 2, 2015 9:59 am

      Daphne, as far as I know, other than the folks you mentioned, the people participating are the ones posting comments. I’m hoping that as we move forward into the planning month, more people will hear about it and decide to join in. Until then, I plan to jut keep trucking on. I’ve got a manuscript to write, after all! 😀


  5. Lisa Jarvis permalink
    Friday, September 4, 2015 9:44 pm

    Hi All.
    FYI – Kaye, I have included you and the “60-Day Crew” as part of my support team for the challenge. Please remember I am here to be part of each of your teams also.

    I’m playing a bit of catch-up as it has been a busy week. I was able to put some time into the assignments but haven’t posted or finished anything.

    Guided Questions:
    1. Why? I’ve attempted to write this story several times. I don’t want to think about it or attempt it. I want to do it. I need to prove to myself that I can finish my first draft without my internal critic shutting me down.
    2. What will finishing this project mean to you? Will it change you? How? Finishing this project will mean that I can look forward to writing some of the other stories I have ideas for – it will mean I’m a writer. At the moment I’m just someone with ideas that wants to write. If I succeed, it will mean I’ve changed. It will mean I’ve locked my inner critic away in a back room – maybe the wine room so she stays happy, and I’ve managed to get my story into a workable piece.
    3. It would be my first time to complete a manuscript. Other than smiling so hard I’ll have to massage the cramps out of my cheeks, I can’t imagine how I’ll feel.
    4. My husband may forget and interrupt on occasion, but he wholeheartedly supports my efforts. Some friends and family members think it is a waste of time but I can’t wait to prove them wrong.
    5. Continued motivation is something I haven’t had the answer to in the past. I have fizzled out. I hope having this group going through the same struggle might help keep me motivated and on track. This leads right into the next question.
    6. The ONE thing I need most to accomplish my goal is discipline. I need to beat away the doubts, and keep typing. I need to have the discipline to continue despite any interruptions. No excuses.


    • Friday, September 4, 2015 9:55 pm

      Hi, Lisa! So happy to have you with us.

      There is going to be a lot of info coming at you fast and furious these first couple of weeks, but then we’ll slow down so that anyone starting late will have time to catch up. So don’t stress yourself out trying to get too much done. Set yourself a time limit for how long you’ll want to work on this stuff daily, and if you don’t get finished, just pick up at that spot the next day.

      Welcome to the team!


  6. Lisa Jarvis permalink
    Friday, September 4, 2015 9:46 pm

    Oops, forgot to mention the calendar. Thank you very much for the calendar and summary outline for the 60 day period. I have already found it very helpful for planning. 🙂



  1. Full on Prep Mode & #FirstDraft60 | Elissa Kane
  2. NaNoWriMo … yes or no? | As the Eraser Burns
  3. NaNoWriMo … yes or no?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: