Finishing That Draft

Twitter is one of the best things that ever happened to my writing career. I met all of my critique partners there, got to know all kinds of amazing authors, learned about contests and conferences, and learned more about the business of writing overall.

Twitter is also the absolute worst thing that ever happened to my writing career. Everybody is so fun and smart and engaging and there’s always someone around to talk to. So when I’m sitting at my computer writing, it is entirely too easy to “just pop over to Twitter for a second to see what’s going on.” (And suddenly five hours have passed and my children are running around naked and starving.)

When I was finishing up the latest draft of BETWEEN, I had to come up with a way to be productive in spite of my very, very serious addiction to social media. Here are a few things that worked for me, and I’m hoping some of you might find them helpful as well!

  1. Set a deadline. And then announce it to EVERYONE. Tell Twitter. Tell everyone you live with. Announce it to Facebook. Put it on your blog. Tell anyone who asks about your book. I set a deadline based on WriteOnCon. I wanted to be finished in time to post my work there.
  2. Find an accountability partner. For me, it was the lovely Maggie Hall. She was revising her manuscript (THAT SOLD TO PUTNAM/PENGUIN IN A THREE-BOOK DEAL JUST IN CASE YOU MISSED IT). Maggie and I would set deadlines and goals for each other. I would tell her, “I will send you 50 pages by Wednesday,” and she’d tell me whatever she was sending me. It was perfect. We didn’t even need to critique for each other–just needed to keep each other accountable. I never would’ve finished the last draft without her.
  3. Unplug. Do whatever you have to do to get away from the Internet. Write in a place with no Internet access. Better yet, don’t use a computer at all. Write by hand. (That’s also very helpful to do if you’re one of those people who’s constantly editing as you write. Doing it by hand forces you to keep moving forward.)
  4. Create a designated writing time. I admit, I’ve never been good at this. I’m more of a “Write when the mood hits you” kind of gal. The problem with that is I could go a few days without finding the mood and then end up writing for 7 hours straight to get my pages to Maggie on time. As a wife and mother, that was pretty ridiculous. As I start writing again this month, I’m planning to use a more regular schedule and get as much done as I can while my kids are in school. Let’s all hope I can do that.
  5. Reward yourself when you finish. For me, that reward was a month-long break from writing. And it was BEAUTIFUL. I had no idea how much my mind revolved around Between until I stopped working on it. I had all this free time, and I was so relaxed. When I’m writing, even when I’m not actually writing, I’m thinking about it–dialogue, scenes, character traits, random things that would make my book different. The break was absolutely perfect.

Good luck!

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