ANOTHER SET OF TIPS FOR GETTING THROUGH YOUR NOVEL’S DRAFTS
AMBER LOVE 02-NOV-2016 If you’re new here, my site is funded by donors through Patreon.com/amberunmasked and it would be great for you to become a backer.
In 2014 I created what I think is a pretty solid list of rewards for writers to give themselves for achieving goals. For #NaNoWriMo2016 I thought it would be fun to freshen up the list with new goals and sprinkle in some new rewards. Spoiler: F-bombs ahead.
Note: These aren’t affiliate links. I don’t make anything from these suggestions. Just fun things I found.
I’m a plotter. I outline. I use what I know of writing comic book page breakdowns to formulate a train of thought about where a story should go. You pantsers out there might not reach goals the way I do. I’m sure you can wiggle through these suggestions and make them work for you somehow. Also, as someone who generally has no disposable income, I take a thrifty approach. One more thing, I’m exceedingly aware that food as a reward can be dangerous. You do you. I’m done counting every little morsel that goes into my mouth.
MILESTONES AND GOALS FOR WRITERS
You knew who your protagonist would be when the atom of an idea popped into your head. Celebrate as soon as you realize who would fill the roles of villain (the big bad) and antagonist. Reward: Eat dessert first.
You plucked the three-act structure from some old writing notes and figured out how to move from the beginning to the end. Reward: Learn to make microwave mug cakes.
Day 1 Accomplished:
Whether you’re following along with 1,667 words a day the NaNoWriMo way or setting your own workable daily targets (500 words, 1000 words, 1 hour block of time, etc.) you made it through the first writing session and completed the task. Reward: Marathon your favorite movies until falling asleep.
You nonchalantly introduced the villain of the story leaving readers to wonder if they’re just another character or what greater role they’ll serve. You’ve been a sneaky hobbit. Maybe you have a twist and the narrator POV is really the villain. Reward: Bonus reading or podcasting time. I recommend Stephen King’s On Writing or Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (Or Other Concerns) which both address living creative lives and have audio book versions.
Day 7 or 10,000 words:
You’ve been a dedicated little writer trying to hone your craft for a solid seven days or a work week. In order to make the time for writing, you probably let some other things lapse like laundry. When I’m sick with the flu, battling depression with fatigue and chronic pain, or something else unpleasant is in my thoughts, I love the feeling of my favorite cotton sheets freshly washed. That’s not a chore. It’s a real reward. Treat yourself like you’re staying at hotel. Reward: Clean sheet day!
Make another treat like a mug cake or for you healthy types, take some fresh fruit and ice and make a smoothie. Reward: Extra snack.
Day 14 or 20,000 words:
Hopefully you’ve remembered to shower, but in this case, if you’re not in a drought zone, take an extra five minutes and enjoy a brand new bar of fancy soap. It seems the only ones safe to use on my skin are Filthy Farmgirl and I get them from Dr. Pennskin. Reward: Fancy soapy things.
By now you know your characters and environments so well that you can imagine popping out for tea with one of them or throwing back a few shots. Learn to make one your favorite drinks that you normally only order when you’re out; get to the kitchen and give it a try. Reward: Enjoy a new cocktail or cafe drink.
You need a break! Reward: Take 30 minutes to look at Chris Traeger gifs.
Your brain is probably slagging at the insufferable “middle” of the book. You know you need to get through the quicksand. You feel like you’ve already tortured your characters so much and can’t think of another obstacle to throw in their way. All your outline says is, “plant a new clue.” You need to rev up those brain cells and get blood pumping. Reward: Dark chocolate covered espresso beans.
A lot of people would’ve given up and not stuck with it. You’re doing great! You’re also not alone in this vast world of arts and entertainment. Reward: Give a book to a friend or donate to a fellow writer’s crowdfunding. Share the book love. Sharing links and leaving ratings or reviews are all free. Maybe one day, when your project is less overwhelming, it’s had some revisions, and it gets out into the world, someone out there will be willing to share links to it.
Day 21 or 35,000 words:
You’re going to be in that “middle” section for quite some time. You may need to take a day off completely to shift gears and clear your head. Reward: Take time for some hobby or craft or child you’ve been neglecting for three weeks.
Some people will say this is halfway to a book. Well not if you’re aiming for less than 80k. Now that I’ve seen my books printed and they’ve clocked in at a hundred pages more than I expected, I don’t blink at the prospects of a lower target like 50k or 60k. Not every book needs to be Harry Potter and the Order of the (fucking) Phoenix. Reward: Another happy hour. Maybe try to schedule it with a writing buddy over Skype.
Feminist Agenda Achievement:
You haven’t killed off all female characters nor had them needlessly raped because you suck as a writer. Reward: Feminist t-shirts for everyone! Bonus reward: Block a bunch of egg accounts on Twitter that harass women!
You’re irritating to all non-writers who are sick of hearing about this book you claim to be writing. Tell them to suck it. You’re going to get this thing done. You’re going to be proud of it and stick it in their faces. Find some really non-compliant accessories or creative ways of expressing yourself like showing up with mermaid hair. Reward: Treat yo self in discreet ways. Small things like an “unapologetic” pin or socks with vulgar sayings.
It might be about time for another duel between your good guys and bad guys. Maybe you’re at the climax of Act II already. Your heart is pounding along with them. You’re sweating and get biscuit crumbs in the keyboard. You need to feel like yourself again. Reward: A new coffee mug or vintage tea cup with saucer will do the trick.
Day 28, 1 month, or 50,000 words:
HOLY CRAP! YOU DID IT! You dedicated yourself to writing for one month. Did you forget other humans exist? Is your favorite restaurant 20 minutes away or two hours away? Squeeze in time to get the hell away from the keyboard. Reward: Go out to dinner! Make a night of it! Celebrate!
For those you that are going to keep chugging along, here are some more suggestions for interval rewards:
- New music
- Shiny new pen
- Snazzy bold haircut
- Top shelf bottle of booze
- A literary themed piece of clothing like storiarts.com offers
BIGGER MILESTONES FOR WRITERS!
First draft cleaned, polished, and sent to writing buddies for their feedback. Reward: Three new books for yourself (comics count) and promise yourself to leave reviews.
Received Helpful Feedback:
Feedback returned, crying, sobbing, wailing over the grave of the career you dreamed about. Reward: Family size pack of tissues and your favorite movie. Comfort reward.
Revision done. You are certain there are no more typos, but really there are seven hidden in sentences you’ll never find. Reward: Software upgrade because wouldn’t editing be blissfully better if you knew how the hell mark-ups worked like a pro?
You’ve gone through websites and databases of literary agents seeking one who is looking for your genre. You believe in your heart that half will request more chapters or a full MS because goddammit, you wrote a masterpiece. Reward: Adopt a wolf from a sanctuary because you’re every bit as badass.
First Rejection Letter:
Clearly there was a mistake when that agent read someone else’s query but rejected yours. Just in case, take a look at the letter you sent. Revise the hell out of it. Are you that terrible at writing? Are all your decisions the wrong one? Do you feel like an RPG character that keeps rolling 1 DMG on a manticore? Print the rejection letter and pin it to a corkboard or hang on the fridge like a proud parent. Rejection is part of the game, kid! Reward: See if there’s a local D&D group at a comic shop or game shop and roll some dice. No idea what that is? That’s okay, just look at the Donald Trump parody on Twitter and laugh your ass for a while.
An honest to goodness literary agent wants to sign you and shop your book to publishers. Reward: New keyboard because now you feel like a pro and want to write six more books by tomorrow.
You get a Publisher!
Wow, if you get this far, HOLY CRAP, CONGRATULATIONS! It’s hard to get to this point. After calling your parents who will still guilt you about that useless college degree, hang up the phone and party with a loved one. Reward: Spend a night or two out of town where you can indulge in the finer things like not making the bed or ordering room service.