I recently started working on a novel, and I'm happy with how I went about all of the pre-writing exercises to allow for an easier first draft experience. I got a book called Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, not because I wanted to pound out a book in thirty days, but because it looked to have a good structure. I honestly feel that I've had trouble in the past getting a novel written because I lack structure in my writing process. I've tried other methods, but nothing has ever really sung to me. This one looks like it has promise.
I'm using many of the exercises and worksheets provided (though I'm doing so in a separate notebook, not right in the book, because I'm cheap that way), and I'm tweaking others to fit me. The book is set up to use each of the 30 days, with reminders of things to be looking for and exercises on how to throw a creative curveball into the mix. I've decided, since I don't want to dash it out so quick, that I'd move on to the next page with every 7 or so that I write--that'll get me to a good word count for a middle-grade novel. I made scene cards on 3x5 cards, and those have become my outline for the story. I sketched out my main character with enough information--using the book's character guide--and I'll fill it out more as I write. This seems to be an excellent way to get going on a novel for me.
The tough part, of course, will be actually writing the thing. I've set myself a goal of two pages a day/6 days a week. I like to set my writing goals low so I have a hard time missing them. Often I write more than that, so it's a nice little confidence boost for myself when I do write more. I started in the middle of last week, and so far I've met my goal every day. I'm confident this system will serve me well not just through the first draft, but through the revision process as well. That's all I have for you this week. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing.