Today I reached 50,000 words on my novel. Based on my outline, I’m a little past the half-way point.
I’m still learning what works for me. Here are some of the main things:
Set, and reset, an achievable goal.
I floundered a bit in December, but recommitted to my goal of 500 words per day on average. At this rate I will finish the novel first draft sometime around the end of May. Some days I write more and some I don’t write at all, but that’s okay because I’m in it to finish.
Keep track of progress.
I use an Excel spreadsheet to track my daily word-count. I set it up to display what day I will finish the novel, based on my current total word count and daily goal. I find that I feel really motivated to keep up my progress when I see my projected completion date change. And if I have one… or two… or even three days without writing (because life happens) my writing log motivates me sit down and get back to it.
Guard against things I know will derail me.
The temptation to “take a break” from writing the novel to “just write one short story” is very enticing to me. But I know that the sweet and sparkly lure of writing distraction that a short story offers is pure kryptonite for me. So lately when I get an idea for a short story, I write it down and save it. I don’t get to revisit that idea until the novel draft is finished.
Almost as tempting, but equally derailing, is the urge to go back to the beginning of my novel and rewrite it. I’ve made notes, and I don’t get to do that until the first draft is complete and I start editing.
I’ve found that short-story/novel-chapter critique groups can be detrimental to my novel-writing process. I am constantly resisting that inner voice telling me if I’m a serious writer, I should be producing at least one critique-ready short story or novel chapter a month. So I’m wary of engaging with a group that echoes that voice. Luckily, my critique group is very supportive.