To coincide with the 2016 National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo/NaNo), a new round of #FirstDraft60 started on October 2, 2016—you can catch up with each day’s posts below. And at the very bottom of the page, there’s a link to last year’s posts, if you want to see what else we’ll be digging into this year—though there will be some changes, too! Hope you’ll stick around and participate!
Inspired in part by the book Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt and in part by my own personal need to get back into writing, I created the #FirstDraft60 challenge in order to challenge myself to plan and write a complete first draft of a manuscript in 60 days.
30 Days of Prep Work
Prep work. Figuring out what project you’re going to work on in the next 60 days and doing some advanced prep work before digging in.
- Day Zero: Are You Ready to Write a Story?
- Day 1: Determining Your Commitment and Motivation with Guided Questions
- Day 2: Setting Up a Revisions Notebook, Style Sheet, and Research Repository
- Day 3: The Story Bible—Characters, Setting, Props
- Day 4: Story Structure & Timeline
- Day 5: Lists. Lists. Lists.
Digging in with your characters to get to know as much as possible about them before you start writing.
- Day 6: Four Character Building Questions
- Day 7: Getting Your Characters into S.H.A.P.E.
- Day 8: Week 1 Reflections
- Day 9: Monday Motivation–Don’t Think. Just Write.
- Day 10: Your Characters’ Physical Descriptions
- Day 11: Ambitions, Inducements, & Entanglements
- Day 12: Character Backstories
Reviewing tips for draft/marathon writing, and planning goals and for meeting/overcoming obstacles and challenges. Use this week to catch up on/continue working on your character development from last week.
- Day 13: A Draft-Writing Assignment
- Day 14: Review & Catch-Up Day
- Day 16: Inspiration vs. Perspiration (Making a Writing Schedule)
- Day 17: Setting Goals and Tracking Everything
- Day 18: Planning for Challenges and Obstacles
After solidifying your premise and brainstorming plot points, you’ll write an outline of your story to help keep you on track as you write next month. Writing one-sentence and one-paragraph summaries will help focus you on your main plot as well as your story’s tone and theme(s). Plus we’ll look at your setting and determine what research you need to do before you start writing.
- Day 19: Writing/Testing Your Story Premise
- Day 20: The Road Map to Your Story
- Day 21: Saturday Catch-Up & Review Day
- Day 22: Sunday Reflections–Responsibilities, Priorities, & Writing Time
- Day 23: One-Sentence and One-Paragraph Story Summaries
- Day 24: Getting Specific with Your Setting
- Day 25: Have You Done Enough Research?
Determine how you will organize your draft, state your goals and determine how you will approach the challenge, and review everything you’ve done throughout these 30 days, update your guides/notebooks, and write down any new ideas that come to you.
- Day 26: Writing Your Story Scene by Scene
- Day 27: Using #1k1hr Sprints for Marathon Writing
- Day 28: Saturday Catch-Up & Review Day
- Day 29: Sunday Reflections–Your Physical & Mental Writing Spaces
- Day 30: TOMORROW WE WRITE! (Preparing to Write Your Opening Scene)
30 Days of Writing
In order to complete a 55–75,000-word first draft, you’ll need to average 1,667–2,500 words per day for the next 30 days. Obviously, I know not everyone is going to be working toward the same goal; NaNo has you work on a goal of 50,000; some of you may want to shoot for a 30–35,000-word novella; or, like me, you may have already started writing something and need to finish it and aren’t sure how many words you need, which means a daily goal will be more important than an arbitrary total goal.
Whatever your overall word-count goal is, divide that by 30 to see what your daily word count should average to meet it. (You can write it in on the printable calendar PDF, linked below.)
Each day during November, in addition to writing, we will have a specific focus here on the blog:
Sunday Reflections: Reflection with guided questions.
Monday Motivation: I’ll share some motivational words to get us geared up and ready for the week to come.
Timer Tuesday: On Tuesdays, you’ll be challenged to do at least one 1k1h writing challenge.
Wednesday Work Files Update: Schedule a quick review of your story bible, revision notebook, and style guide to see if you need to update them.
THORsday: Thursdays, we’ll challenge ourselves to Timed, Handwritten, Offline, and Remote writing. (Further explanation to come when it’s time to write.)
Friday SWAT Day: It’s time to brag on yourself. Check in with your Self-evaluation, Word count, Awesome accomplishments, and Tidbits to share from the past week.
Saturday Catch-Up: Saturdays give us time to figure out if we need to do any catch up with our word count, or if we need to readjust our goals for the next week.
Printable 2016 FirstDraft60 Calendar
(PDF, will open in a new tab)