Here’s a postmortem of sorts of the first draft of my book, Strain. At first I wanted to do this just on my own, but it occurred to me this might be of help to someone else. So here’s my clean and dirty laundry. In this post, I’ll run through the four critical pieces to the completion of the script.
Original target date: 10.01.2007
Actual completion date: (Ahem) 02.01.2008
Note: A large portion of the time past my personal deadline was eaten up with the holidays. Sure, you can write from anywhere, but avoiding familial alienation and consternation is prudent.
I’d have to check to see when I actually wrote the end of the first draft. I knew I’d be writing a second draft as I wrote the first, so there is an overlap between the two.
Separating family time from writing time. We’ve got two kids, 4 and 2. As much as I’d love to, there is no plausible way for me to write while the family is awake and in the house. Awake and out of the house, sure. But in the house, nope. Once I came to this realization, the writing life got MUCH easier. I wasn’t splitting time. I no longer felt guilty about taking time away from my family, nor do I feel guilty about missing time with my wife. I wait till everyone is in bed (or reading) and then I bust out the Twain-like genius I call my writing. Thank you very much. I don’t sleep much (but that’s more for Part 2).
Set a deadline. It was crucial to the process. It knocked the ‘I’m tired’ parent procrastination crutch out of my reach. The slippage would have been ignored. Ignored is not the right word; endured is more accurate.
Found a countdown clock widget. I’ve mentioned this in the comments from a previous post but it bears repeating. The countdown clock was a bit of a double-edged sword. I had a passive aggressive streak, a glibness I knew was going to be counter productive. Which leads to my third good idea-
Initiated a daily word quota. I attached a daily word quota to the countdown clock; skip a day and watch your daily quota increase. For me, it was the tipping point.
So there is a summary of the methods – tricks – I used to plow through the first draft of my manuscript. They worked for me. (Cue Rocky and Bullwinkle narrator) So join me next time for Part 2 – What didn’t work – or How a bottle of wine and a cozy couch can cure the compulsive need to write.