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Sunday, August 26, 2012

 

Gaining Momentum In Your WIP

Gain momentum on a writing retreat
I recently finished a wonderful workshop with some middle-grade writers, and one of their comments gave me the idea for this blog post. I had been working with them on their debut middle-grade novels since spring, and most of them were ALMOST finished with their first or second draft. The workshop was set up so that they turned a chapter into me each week, which I critiqued, and they also critiqued each other. They all hoped to keep up with the one chapter a week goal and finish their novels before fall. But as we all know--life happens--and it's a lot harder to give yourself a deadline than to meet a deadline for someone else.

So back to the momentum comment--basically, the writer was talking about how she had been having trouble writing and sticking to a schedule. But recently she was glad to have revised her first chapter and to be writing again. But she still wished she could get some of the momentum going that she had during our class/workshop.

Momentum--what does that mean for a writer exactly? What I think this particular writer meant was because she was writing a new chapter every week during the spring and summer, ideas for her characters and plot were constantly at the surface. She was really making progress on her work-in-progress. She was going, going, going forward with the story. This is one of the best possible things that can happen for a writer.

The opposite is when we're stuck. We are not moving forward in our WIP. We are editing the same chapter over and over again, or we work on the novel so infrequently that we can't remember where we are in the story each time we actually get our butts in the chair; so part of our writing time is spent reviewing notes and past chapters and trying to figure out where we are in the story. This is miserable for a writer.

So, what can you do to get momentum going in your writing life?
  • Take a class--online or in person. WOW! offers several classes on writing for beginners to advanced, on general writing to genre-specific classes in young adult, crime fiction, memoir, middle-grade, picture books, and more. The classroom schedule can be found here. For writing classes in person, look at your community college or a local writing conference. 
  • Join a critique group--I have an awesome critique group, whom we've named Lit Ladies. Every single lady in this group works hard and wants to be published. Two of us have publishing contracts now, and the others have had positive feedback from industry gurus. A good critique group helps your momentum because they expect you to turn in pages from your WIP. They meet often and provide helpful feedback that makes you want to work on your manuscript.
  • Plan a writing retreat--The Lit Ladies just went on a writing retreat this summer. That's three of us pictured above at Bennett Springs State Park near Lebanon, MO. We planned the weekend ourselves, including huge chunks of scheduled writing time to work on our novels and submission materials, like query letters and a synopsis. We all felt much more organized and productive after this weekend, and I am happy to say that I have a good start on a new mystery series for middle-grade readers now! (I plan to post more details about our writing retreat in the future.) 
Find some way that works for you to get your momentum going in your WIP. If setting your own deadlines doesn't work or you find yourself constantly creating a writing schedule you don't stick to, try one of these ideas above. Your WIP and cast of characters will thank you.

Get your momentum going if you are interested in writing middle-grade novels by enrolling in one of Margo's fall middle-grade novel classes. The beginners' class starts on September 7. More information can be found here. The advanced class (for writers who have at least three chapters of the novel written and a plan for the rest) starts on October 19. To view the syllabus for the advanced class, go here. 

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6 Comments:

Blogger Sioux said...

Margo--Your advice is perfect. Yes, critique groups are essential. The scheduled meetings motivate us to write. And retreats--where we have the chance to write during long periods of uncluttered time--are extremely helpful when working on a big project like a novel.

4:23 AM  
Blogger Margo Dill said...

And Sioux, I am looking forward to the writing marathon (or whatever it's called exactly) that Saturday Writers is planning in the fall. I think those kinds of things also inspire and motivate us. ;) Thanks for the comment.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Brandi Schmidt said...

We had a ton of fun at that retreat...although could of lastest like a week! I love it.

6:37 AM  
Blogger Margo Dill said...

Brandi:
I think that is obvious by that smile on your face, even though we were "roughing" it all weekend! :) LOL I can't wait to share our entire retreat with everyone. I'll send you the link when I do.

8:38 AM  
Blogger camillefaye said...

I definitely got my writing mojo back after our weekend trip. I've revised two more chapters!!!

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Margo Dill said...

Camille:
That is a great job--especially considering baby is getting closer and closer. But that's great!!!!! :) I'm so happy.

3:46 PM  

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