Writing: Motivation in the month of May and first drafts

I’ve decided to join the #15kinMay writing folk on twitter to progress a new project based on a flash fiction I wrote last year. This is a very visceral book and to me the book has always had a May feeling. I felt a great impetus last year to just write and write further but due to circumstances ( I was releasing my self-published comedy book Housewife with a Half-Life and working on another book) I didn’t go ahead with working on it at that point.

Of course impetus can sometimes be deceptive, we love the shiny thing we made and have a vague idea of what we want to do with it but when we get down to writing we might run out of steam or ideas after a few thousand words. Next week I’ll be writing about Sitting with your book and also what I’ve learned over time as I begin another novel (having completed three so far) about the interplay between Structure and Free Expression. In other words how the plotter and pantsers tendencies can beautifully combine to help move your project forward.

I’ve successfully completed three Nanowrimo’s (50,000 words in a month challenges) so what tips am I bringing to the 15k in May?

1: Anyone can write 500 words a day which is all you need to do complete this challenge

2: If you fail to achieve your target one day, it does not mean anything about you, your writing ability or what you will produce the next day.

3: What might be stopping you. Fear, Self-Doubt, Performance Anxiety, ‘Should’ Thinking or you may just need to incubate ideas for a while, take a walk, a shower or forget about it altogether to allow your ideas to dance around each other and combine. For example on the walk home from the school run today I thought about how I might bring two previously unrelated characters together.

4: Don’t make rules for yourself to make it harder. If you are working on a brand new project like I am give yourself permission to include comments, explorations and self-talk in your first draft and let it be part of the wordcount. Who cares? For me these comments are like the pegs or cornerstones of your project, they will give you the shape of the thing, give you a place to set off from. Write freely from these points, non necessarily chronologically, although in next week’s post I’ll issue some caveats and suggestions as to how to ensure your first draft doesn’t become a whole heap of muddle.

All you have to do to participate in the #15kinmay is to use this hashtag on Twitter regarding your project and you’ll be invited by the organisers to take part in further group discussions should you wish to. The camaraderie is always wonderful for kickstarting motivation and showing you that your struggles are not unique.

May is already 10 days in but there’s plenty of time to join in. Let me know if you are intending to rise to the challenge which can be for a new project or to add volume to something you have already begun. Best wishes.

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7 comments

  1. Good tips for keeping up motivation!

    I tend to find though, that if I write out of order, I’m lost! I never go back and fill in the missing bits. The candy scenes are my reward for slogging my way through the boring bits (or deciding to cut them or find a way to make them more interesting, if they’re boring for me, chances are they’re boring for the reader).

    1. Hi Rinelle, there’s a lot to be said for your method as it helps you get a coherent first draft quicker, I do tend to stick to the candy scenes as I try to figure out what the book is all about as I go. I’ve been lost before when doing Nanowrimo so I’m aware that I’m going to have to organise and structure as I go along. Your approach is a lot more disciplined. I don’t know if it’s a symptom of writing with the kids around but I find it hard to keep an overview in my head as there are constant distractions. One thing that worked really well last time was writing a short story which had the trajectory of the novel in it. I could then use it to plan where the novel went. Thanks a mill for your tips Rinelle.

  2. Yes May is a good month to get going on the writing front. Another big push for me at a rate of at least 750 words a day. Also on my first book of 50 to 60k of short stories and pieces about my writing. I am looking for others to contribute some 500 word short stories to the book. Would you be interested in providing one? All the publishing costs will be mine. I have printed off first draft and am doing a heavy edit. Poor weather makes the task easier.

  3. I haven’t heard of the #15KinMay challenge but it sounds useful, thanks for sharing Alison! I might have to participate, since I failed miserably at #CampNano in April and am determined to get this current WIP finished before my baby arrives in July… ; )

    1. The 15K is great because it’s a challenge but very achievable. It’s really just a way of marking your own progress and giving yourself a little push each day, so works for me 🙂

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