Benefits of Writing a Fast First Draft - Writer's Digest

Benefits of Writing a Fast First Draft

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One of the greatest predictors of successfully pre-plotting and writing a novel or memoir in a month is the ability to write in the zone. When you’re in the flow of your writing, words and ideas come to you effortlessly. You don’t second-guess yourself. You’re not timid and paranoid about your ability to persevere. You write. Everyday. Scene after scene come to you easily. The character and the action become meaningful without effort on your part. You commit to writing a set number of words everyday to accomplish your goal and everyday find you’ve gone over that word count. You forget to eat. You forget to sleep. You zone out of the rest of your life and zone completely into your story.

Writing fast triggers the zone. Lose yourself for one month and then you’re free for the rest of your life again with an entire first draft of your story to shape. (Join me December 1st for PlotWriMo to re-vision your words into a story with a plot.)


Martha Alderson, aka the Plot Whisperer, is the author of the Plot Whisperer series of writing resources for authors: The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing , The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories, companion workbook to The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master (Adams Media, a division of F+W Media), Blockbuster Plots Pure & Simple (Illusion Press) and several ebooks on plot.


As an international plot consultant for writers, Martha’s clients include best-selling authors, New York editors, and Hollywood movie directors. She teaches plot workshops to novelists, memoirists, and screenwriters privately, at plot retreats, through Learning Annex, RWA, SCBWI, CWC chapter meetings, Writer’s Digest, The Writers Store and writers' conferences where she takes writers beyond the words and into the very heart of a story.

As the founder December, International Plot Writing Month better known as PlotWriMo, Martha manages the award-winning blog for writers: The Plot Whisperer which has been awarded honors as a top writing advice blog by Writers Digest 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. Her vlog, How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay  covers 27 steps to plotting your story from beginning to end and playlists to help writers create a compelling plot for their novels, memoirs and screenplays. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.


Being in the zone means your ego-driven mind is pushed to the background and your imagination is free to flow onto the page. Your awareness shifts from yourself and your fears and worries, your to-do lists and the who-did-you-wrong stories in your mind, your emotions and your negative beliefs about your writing. No longer in the cramped and squeezed space under a heavy burden, writing in the zone means giving your story your complete and full concentration and attention.

The more challenging your writing, the more energized and focused and emotionally gratified by your writing you become. When you’re in the zone whether for hours or for minutes, the quality and intensity of the writing are at their greatest directed by feel and intuition and from the heart.

20 Tips for Slipping into and Staying in the Zone

1) Regular exercise

2) Good diet

3) Plenty of sleep

4) Drink lots of water

5) Establish a daily writing routine

6) Clear an entire month on your calendar -- no appointments or errands or outside demands (as much as possible)

7) Give yourself a clear daily writing goal -- push yourself to write longer every day

8) Decide where and when you’ll write daily with a minimum of distractions and interruptions.

9) Every thirty minutes stand up and stretch and breath deeply. Then sit down to write again.

10) Give yourself at least a half an hour to get into the flow. Then, if you find your energy slipping switch to writing the next scene (If you’re stumped about what scene to write next, refer to The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing (all the way to the end).

11) Keep your pre-plot Plot Planner in sight and often refer to the handy guide.

12) Take risks with your writing. Be bold. Stretch yourself in your daily practice and continue studying the craft of writing.

13) Acknowledge when a limiting belief swamps your mind and ask yourself what you are most afraid of. Ask yourself what your writing would be like unconstrained by insecurity, anxiousness and fear

14) Continually and intentionally direct your thoughts back to your writing in a one-pointed focus of attention to the scene in front of you

15) Write regularly to create a writing habit

16) Rather than concentrate on what isn’t working in your story or look too far into the future with the story, direct your attention to what you have just written. Ask yourself, because that happens, what does your character do next?

17) Each day, focus on one or two scenes and up to four scenes only and no further.

18) Write each day with no judgment. Your goal is to get the first draft written.

19) Acknowledge that, as the habit of daily writing solidifies, as the month proceeds the challenges of writing a first draft from beginning to end intensifies.

20) Stay with writing every day until you have achieved your daily word count. Congratulate yourself daily for your productivity.

You know you’re in the zone when time stops and you’re completely immersed in your story with full concentration. Good luck. See you December 1st after you’ve successfully pre-plotted and written a novel or memoir in a month.

Join Martha October 17th at 10am Pacific and learn
How to Pre-Plot & Complete a Novel or Memoir in a Month:
The Benefits of Writing a Fast Draft from Beginning to End

(a Writer’s Digest Webinar)

Follow me on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Check out my humor book, Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl.
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