In publishing, we often create work-back schedules. Based on the day we want the book to be in the world, we map out how many months we’ll need for writing, editing, designing, printing. The writer knows when their manuscript is due, and they’re writing toward that date.
But what if you don’t have a set date, or a publishing plan? Then you write toward the feeling of being done.
In this morning’s session of This Is a Book! our writing prompt was an invitation to feel the experience of finishing the first draft. Visualize it.
How will you know you’re done?
How will you exercise your creative autonomy so you can call it done?
When will you shift to an editing mindset so you can revise your draft?
Where can you forgive yourself for not yet writing about that thing/person/time in your life?
Who’s coming with you, what are you wearing, and are you celebrating with chocolate ice cream or champagne? The details matter.
We’re wrapping up the final sessions of This Is a Book! and I’m so proud of what these writers have achieved in just a few months. They’ve brought their nonfiction ideas into the world, and started to shape them. They’ve written stories that they can slot anywhere in their book, and they’re revising their sample outlines and chapters.
We’ve built a plan for how they can write their drafts over the rest of the year, without me guiding them. But the best plans are those you hold loosely. They need to work with existing constraints and the recognition that you’ll never clear your plate so you can write. Saying you’ll write five days a week is all well and good until you don’t.
Knowing how good it will feel to finish will keep you going even when shit happens and you don’t get to sit down with your draft for weeks at a time. The best ideas will come to you when you’re away from your desk. Writing is life.