Saturday, April 30, 2011

Making Progress on Our Manuscripts (and Other Things)

Astronomical Clock detailThere are times when I get a sense from writers of huge progress being made on manuscripts. NaNoWriMo (in November) is one of those times.

Then there are times when I hear writers are struggling (holidays, summer travel time.)

Honestly, there’s just never a good time to write a book. Life is busy, writing involves quiet reflection…it can be hard to fit that time in.

But since there is no good time to write a book, you might as well write yours now. :)

Jane Friedman had a great post last week on Writer Unboxed on adding structure to your writing life.

I especially like Jane’s advice about making a weekly and daily goal. She has a link for a free download for a goal sheet. One thing I like about the goal sheet is that it acknowledges that there are impediments to reaching that goal and makes you list them so you recognize them in advance.

I also completely agree with Jane’s advice on naming specific tasks to accomplish. For me, the more specific I can be, the quicker I can make my goal. Instead of listing “finish next scene,” I’ll say: “have sleuth question witness, write setting description for the local park, make sure motivation for sleuth’s actions is clear,” etc.

The only thing that I might change a little is that instead of 30-60 weekly, dedicated minutes (which admittedly might work for many), I’d say 5-10 minutes a day, whenever they can be snagged, for those who just can’t find that 30-60 free minutes in their weeks currently. To write only 5 minutes a day, you do need to be slightly more organized and know what you’re planning on knocking out that day (don’t spend your five minutes rereading what you wrote the day before.) At least you’re making daily progress.

How do you stay on task during busy times?