Last month I read Kristen Kieffer’s Build Your Best Writing Life, and it lit a fire underneath me to develop a personal writing routine that works for me. And I mean, really works. Because what I had been doing wasn’t.
First drafts are my least favorite part of the writing process, so it always takes me the longest. I used to write in long chunks – often two, three or four hours – but I honestly dreaded it.
But I LOVE revising. So I started thinking about how I could revamp my drafting process with these two things in mind.
Here’s how it turned out:
Step 1 – Outline
This part stayed largely the same; I’ve always been a plotter. If you’re a pantser, you can skip this step, but I really do think it lays the best foundation for a strong first draft. Even if you only outline a chapter or two at a time! Then when it comes time for step 2, you can hit the ground running.
Step 2 – Sprint
I’ve always loved writing sprints. Not only do they satisfy my competitive side, but they let me set aside my perfectionist/anxiety-ridden tendencies and just write. So instead of my hours-long sessions, I’ve been setting a timer and writing as much as I can in thirty minutes. Sometimes I do this once a day, sometimes multiple times, and it helps when one of my wonderful critique partners do it with me. But I typically average between 800 and 1200 word each sprint!! They’re total trash, but that leads me to another great part of this new routine.
Step 3 – Revise
Like I said above, revising is my favorite, so when thinking through my process, I wanted to spend as much time doing that as I could. Since I am getting the words down on the page quickly, I can then go back and spend the majority of my time making them better. As of right now I am only doing this every few chapters so that I don’t lose my sprinting momentum, but that could change depending on my mood for the day.
There you have it! So far I’ve been able to slowly work up to writing every day and look forward to cranking the rest of this draft out
If you feel like your writing life isn’t where you want it, I strongly encourage you to read Kristen’s book and then take a look at your favorite – and least favorite – parts of the process then customize your routine around that. It sounds simple but has so far been revolutionary for me.
Let me know how it goes, and good luck!