I’m a huge advocate of writing ahead of your publishing schedule. Whether it is self-imposed, or a deadline set upon you by your publisher, the quicker you can crush that deadline, the better off you’ll be. Getting ahead of the game provides great benefits for you and for your writing, such as freeing up your time and your energies for other tasks and activities. When you’re ahead in your writing, you’re not stressed or pressed for time, and you can step back, think, and make adjustments to the story line. It’s a great position to be in, and you can be right there with me, if you aren’t already.
When I started publishing Zaria Fierce, I cut my timeline short between writing and publishing by two months, because I was so excited to get the book out and become a published author. I wrote the book and published it within a six month time span instead of an eight to 12 month time span, which hampered me in some respects. I wasn’t as prepared for book one or book two as I could have been. This is especially apparent to me from a marketing standpoint. I’m still figuring this whole marketing thing out, so I don’t beat myself up too badly about the abbreviated timeline. And happily, I built back into my timeline those missing months and even more time besides.
So how far along am I? I’m about a one-fifth to one-quarter of the way through the newest story and conclusion to Aleks Mickelsen’s trilogy. No, you didn’t read that wrong. Today, as I am nearing the publication of the fourth book in the Zaria Fierce series, which is the first in Aleks’ trilogy, I’m writing book six. This is fantastic, because I can make changes to book five if something comes to me as I’m writing book six that requires foreshadowing or prior-knowledge from one or more of the characters.
I have done this before with previous books. Something has nearly cropped up in all of my books that requires planting it’s seeds in an earlier one. An example I can give that doesn’t spoil readers (at least for the upcoming books in Aleks’ trilogy) is the time I went and added the term “Golden Kings” to book one due to developments in book two. This type of detail fleshes out a world and gives it more depth, a common history/knowledge/vernacular, and vividness. If you’re not giving yourself the space and time to be able to add these nuggets into your writing, you could potentially miss out on chaining and building really great story-telling elements into your books.
Being as far ahead as I am in my own writing schedule, I am able to research more for future books, and work on my marketing for the books which are already published (something I really need to do!) I can also use this free time to build my newsletter list, write blog posts, or hold a book reading/signing event. I can use the time to plan a vacation or attend a friend’s wedding. The only true thing I have to worry about now is not spoiling for readers what happens next, because I know so much more than they do or will even after the Twice-Lost Fairy Well comes out.
I hope I’ve sold you on my writing style and its benefits. If you want to be in a similar position I have a few tips for you, which will get you there.
3 Things You Can Do Now to Crush Writing the First Draft for Your Current WIP
- Set goals like a crazy person. The more writing goals you can set the better. When I set writing goals, I ensure that they chain together, and help motivate me to reach the next goal, and the next, and the next. Each one acts like a springboard to push myself to the next level. I do this by setting word count goals (off-set from 500/1000 to 200/700, so even my non-goals of 500/1000 act like goals). I set chapter goals (big picture items, plotting, pacing, and planning for a certain number of chapters). I set micro goals – e.g. finish the scene. I set macro goals – e.g. link these two areas of the story together. The more goals I have across the various levels the better off I am, because it keeps me constantly moving and writing and before I even know it, I’ve written thousands of words and finished my first draft.
- Make writing a habit. Not only should you be setting writing goals to churn out word count, you should be making your writing a long-term habit. Write on a schedule. If you want to write every day, set aside time to do so. If you only want to write Monday through Friday, plan for it. Set aside a place to write and a time. You can even take it a step further by securing the clothes you’ll wear, the food you’ll need, your drink of choice, your writing music playlist, shutting off your phone, unplugging your modem, whatever it is. Minimize interruptions and distractions. Stick to your plans and your butt-in-chair time will equal progress on your current draft.
- Do not edit. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Do not waste time editing now. Don’t look up stuff now. This time is for writing the book. Got a question? Can’t remember a character’s hair color? Don’t know who did what or said what in what scene from before? Write down what you think you know. Highlight it. When you come back for your second draft, do the research then. It’s not worth losing a train of thought to fix something immediately that you can fix later. Your train of thought is the most precious thing your book has got going for it. Don’t screw it up by focusing on the nitty gritty. Write. Write. Write. It’s okay to be thin on facts and details as long as you get the ideas out there. You can always edit until your blue in the face later, fixing what you got incorrect and fleshing out sequences that are missing their “potatoes.”
As a self-published author, being ahead of schedule is huge for me. I work hard (and play hard) to get the first draft out. Afterward, because I have built-in time, I can set aside the draft, instead of racing into editing. I can wait on notes from beta readers and trusted persons, to learn what worked and what didn’t. And while I wait for those notes, I can start the next book. See? Always chaining those goals together even across WIPs.
I hope these writing tips have helped you, and fired you up to tackle your WIP. Good luck my friend and happy writing!