Look How Far You’ve Come by Pauline Wiles

The 85K Writing Challenge provides a supportive structure for writers seeking to make meaningful progress on their novels.

With July designated as a 30-Day Finish, you may or may not be ready to draw a line under the efforts of your 60-Day Edit cycle.

Using the helpful resources on this site, like the 60-Day Edit video series with Kris Spisak, and editing wisdom from elsewhere, you’ve no doubt been making major structural changes to your work, as well as more detailed line-by-line improvements. Perhaps you feel your novel is now as good as it could be, or you still have further areas you’re itching to tackle. Or maybe you’re waiting to work with your chosen professional editor.

Whether or not you feel positioned to move to the next cycle of the 85K Writing Challenge in August, it’s important at this mid-year point to pause and realize just how far you’ve come.

Think back to January 1st, at the very beginning of the Challenge, and what your novel looked like then. Recall what lay ahead of you, and how much you have already accomplished. You’ve no doubt put in hours of steady – or frantic – work, but you have pages and pages of writing to show for it. Even if your book still doesn’t feel fully polished, you have achieved remarkable progress.

One of my favorite suggestions for writers is to make a Happy File, which can be online or private, and paper or digital. You might use Pinterest, or a scrapbook, or just make a simple list. The idea is get in the habit of capturing all the small feats and minor victories which serve to highlight the astounding headway you’ve made.

For example:

    • Have you printed out your manuscript? If so, take a photo of yourself holding it proudly.
    • Did you type “The End” during recent months? Take a screenshot of those words.
    • Have you sketched or doodled ideas for your eventual book cover? Add those images to your Happy File.
    • Did you use My Word Tracker or another habit tracker to keep a tally of your efforts during the 90-Day Write cycle (January-March)? Capture that success in your Happy File too.
    • Have you collected any early feedback on your work? Be sure to note the positive comments you’ve heard.

As novelists, we sometimes find our nose is so close to our book that we forget to raise our head and see the strides we’ve made. You might still have many hours of editing ahead of you, in which case you’ll draw comfort from remembering all the inspirational bestsellers which took years to write. Or you might be ready and eager to move to the 60-Day Prep cycle.

Whatever your circumstances, during July, be sure to pause and look back at how far you’ve come.

– Pauline

About Pauline Wiles

Pauline Wiles is the author of three light-hearted novels and creator of the Serenity Project. She believes pragmatic self-care is the foundation of a long and happy writing career. Her own version of this includes plentiful tea, cake, and running. Get more tips on productivity for writers at http://www.paulinewiles.com/writers

Julie Valerie

Julie Valerie

85K Writing Challenge: Embracing the writing life by advancing the practice of productive writing from first word to first reader.

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