Hey, I know it’s so much more fun to just sit at our computers or huddle in with our notebooks and just dive into the story. But if your intention is to write with any kind of end-goal then it will serve you better to at least plan out the parameters of your project first. I promise—if you take the time to clarify and focus on the following areas BEFORE you start writing Once Upon a Time, your creativity will flourish.
Consider the following areas:
- Subject—What do you plan to write about?
- Audience—Who is your ideal reader?
- Purpose—What is purpose of your book? Entertainment? Inspiration? Information? Combo?
- Structure—Major Turning Points
- Story—What is the trajectory of the story? How does the character change from the first to the last chapter?
- Scope—How many words do I need to write per day or week to complete the project?
Once you have a feel for how you want the book to evolve, you will have a clearer idea of what you’ll need to adjust in your real-world life to ensure you stay committed to this project.
1.) Determine what research you need to complete before beginning to write.
The need for research sidetracks writers. They hit a point in their manuscript where they need information, and they stop writing and begin researching instead. Your two-hour writing period then turns into a research period instead. To prevent this from happening, gather the information you need to complete your book before you begin your writing project.
2.) Commit to write daily, and schedule your writing times on a calendar.
Before the kick-off to your project, block out time on your calendar to write daily. Consider what you need to give up to “find time” to write for more extended periods than usual. Make these writing appointments firm commitments—like a doctor’s appointment you no longer can cancel.
Block out enough time to meet your daily or weekly writing quotas. And build in make-up days in case you get behind.
3. Clean and organize your space.
Do you work well in clutter or order? This is helpful to know before embarking on any kind of major project. This is part of your natural writing forces—if you aren’t sure, now is the time to figure it out. If you feel distracted in clutter, take the time now, a little bit every day, to clean up your space and get it ready for your project. Above all you want to avoid wasting precious writing time dealing with clutter. Use September and October to clean your desk, organize supplies and files, and prepare a folder, binder or file for the manuscript you plan to write in November.
4. Set your intentions.
To complete any writing project, you must focus your attention on your writing sessions and all the tasks within. The easiest way to ensure this happens is to set intentions toward those goals. I wrote a post on how to write with intention that can help you dive deeper.
5. Self care.
Start a self-care routine now that will help sustain you through your writing project. With NaNoWriMo less than two months away, it’s a good idea to start planning out an exercise routine, meals, breaks, and sleep!
- Sleep / Rest — I realize I don’t have a lot of room to tell you to get plenty of sleep, but even though I have a 4:00 am wake-up call, it’s because I sleep like a rock throughout the night. I’m well-rested in the mornings, which is why I can handle such a schedule. But I’ll be the first to tell you that a poor night’s sleep will negatively affect your creativity.
- Exercise / Stretch — Regular exercise will strengthen your clarity and focus throughout your project. Stretching at intervals during your writing sessions will keep your blood and oxygen flowing—which are like pizza and chocolate to your Muse! Move your body to improve your mood and energy levels.
- Nutrition—If you can cook and freeze healthy meals before your project begins, that will free up a lot of time plus save you on decision-making energy. Drink plenty of water and keep a lot of healthy snacks on hand.
- Mindset—I’m a big believer in mindset—it can make or break your writing practices. Check out this post I wrote about how to build a mindset that thrives and leads you to success.
- Natural Writing Forces—Your current habits, values, beliefs, strengths, personality traits, moods, struggles all have led you to the place where you are right now. Do you know how to use each aspect so that it serves you best? Start honing your natural writing forces now so that they can support you in your writing project. If you’re diligent and pay attention, by the end of your major writing project, you will have developed a solid writing practice.
Are you getting ready to start a writing project? What strategies do you use to help you start (and see it through) with confidence?
Have a writerly day!