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Zero draft done; on to revisions

After far too much time I have finally – FINALLY! – completed the zero draft of this unnamed project (it’s a novel, it’s historical fantasy, I am not sure about anything else about it other than that). Writing longhand is the only thing that got me through the last five pages. Pen-and-paper is my never-fail trick for dealing with blocks – when I’m stuck and can’t figure out where a story is going, pulling out a physical notebook always gets me back on track. (There are lots of other good reasons to write longhand – this article and this one both make strong arguments – but for me, getting unstuck is the most important).

In all honesty, though, it wasn’t stuck-ness that made this zero draft take so long. It was simply time: my life’s been busy (with writing other things, often). And once one’s out of the story, it’s difficult to get back into it.

For this reason I will be plunging straight into revisions. In an ideal world I’d take a little time between finishing a zero draft and moving on, but I know if I do that I’ll lose momentum. And, you know, I’m hoping to truly finish this thing before a decade passes…


Met my goal!

Somehow, achieving this doesn’t feel as good as I imagined it might….

I don’t know if I’ll do this again. Definitely in the short term it’s not helping my productivity.

I’ll re-evaluate in a few weeks.


On the edge of this
chasm – wide and deep, opaque –
I cast pages forth.

(It’s been a while since I did this much submitting. It is scarier than I remembered. But on the upside, I am working towards that 2017 writing goal….)

Weekly photo writing prompts

Photo writing prompt, 7 January 2017 #amwriting #amwritingfiction

A post shared by Maddy McBride (@maddy_mcb) on

In a related attempt to get my writing productivity up, I’m trying something new: each Saturday this January I’m going to post a photo, which I’ll use as a prompt for a freewriting exercise. Here is today’s 🙂

PS – as you may note, I’m using my Instagram feed to do this – I’m new to Instagram and don’t know if I’ll stick with it, but figure it’s worth a try.

First of Ten for 2017

Naturally, right after posting about not liking to make specific writing goals, I read something that convinced me to give them (or at least one in particular) another go.

Cheryl Klein, executive editor at Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic and author of The Magic Words, recently sent out her January newsletter. Among other things, she discusses New Year’s resolutions and writing goals – and among her suggested “experience” goals was one that resonated with me: get ten rejections. Klein talks about this goal in terms of bravery, which is definitely one aspect of it; but to me it also suggests productivity and perseverance, two qualities I’d like to cultivate in myself.

Plus, rejections are hard, even when they are expected; this goal turns at least the first ten into benchmarks.

So, without further ado: my goal for 2017 is to receive at least ten rejections of my creative work.

And I received the first today, 5 January.

Failure or Feedback?

“Well, I believe there’s no failure, there’s just feedback. . And if you’re a growth mindset person then you take the feedback, and you learn from it and you get better. It doesn’t mean you tell everybody about what you’re learning and tell everybody that you failed at your game. I don’t think you have to do that, but privately and internally in this locker room we have a group that looks at ourselves in the mirror and if it’s not working, they’re honest, I’m honest – we change it and correct and we’re not naïve.”

Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter, after winning the MLS Cup (http://www.timbers.com/post/2015/12/06/quotes-notes-columbus-crew-sc-1-portland-timbers-2-2015-mls-cup)