Writing the Month of January

Now that my SAD seems to be in remission for the foreseeable winter season (thank goodness), I’m using January to catch up on some writing. While The Falconer 2‘s 1st draft is finished, it was a pretty messy draft, so a lot of it needed to be rewritten. This is par for the course with my writing process — I am much better at editing drafts than writing the first one.

My first drafts are primarily scene sketches; some of the scenes are complete (usually slower scenes, heavy on dialogue), and others have stand in lines so I can give them life later (mostly action scenes, which sometimes consist of boring notes like [Sword fight ensues. Remember to describe scenery/senses: snow/feet/ice/scent/breath]). The Falconer 2‘s rough draft came in at 71,000 words. That sounds short (for comparison, The Falconer‘s completed published draft was around 90,000 words), but it’s actually the longest rough draft I’ve ever written — so I really have my work cut out for me this month!

One of the things that has influenced my productivity this month is #30mdare, which is a writing sprint I do with some other authors on Twitter (the link leads to the Publishers Weekly article about it). During the holiday between New Years and Christmas (for 5 days), we collectively wrote over 50,000 words. 50k! That is huge. Since then, I’d wager we’re probably close to hitting 200k. I don’t normally participate in Twitter sprints because I am a fantastically slow writer, but I really needed the extra push this month, and it’s been an enormous help.

Another thing I’ve found to be wonderful for my productivity is the sticker/calendar technique, which Victoria Schwab details here. She gives a list of reasons why it’s great for productivity (it keeps you accountable, it’s fun, it’s a visual representation of your accomplishments) and honestly, I thought I didn’t need it but holy crap yes I do. I do need it. Because I get discounts on children’s sticker books, I use animal stickers (which is also Laini Taylor’s method, and I agree it’s more visually fun).

So this is my calendar for this month so far:


And each sticker represents 1k words written, even on days when I wrote like 1,500 words or something. So we’re not even to midway through the month and I’ve already written at least 21,000 words. More, because some days I didn’t earn an extra sticker. For me, as a generally slow writer (we’re talking 1k a day if I’m feeling particularly sprightly kind of slow), that’s huge. It’s huge.

And I fully intend on using this method for dissertation writing too because it’s become entirely soul sucking and I need more fun in my life.

SO! There you have it. January is my writing month. I’ll check back in at the end to let you know how I finished! 🙂


xx Elizabeth May