Novel Drafting Tip: The Strike-Out Method

Let’s face it. Writing is about .01% pure inspiration and about 99.99% tricking our brain into just getting words down on the page every day. I’m ALL for tricking my brain into doing things it doesn’t want to do. Those of you who have taken my Productivity Hacks for Writers course know I’m the master of the brain hack. I’ve come up with plenty of useful hacks over the years and today I want to share with you my new favorite brain hack, perfect for fast drafters and  NaNoWriMo participants trying to log those 50,000 words in November. It’s called the Strike Out Method. 

It’s VERY simple. When working on your manuscript, especially when you’re in drafting mode and not full-on revision mode, don’t touch that delete key. Try striking out text instead of actually deleting text. (So it looks like this.) Your word processing program still counts the words as being written (i.e. they stay in your total word count) AND they’re still there in case you change your mind about deleting them later. This solves two essential writerly problems:

1) You will ALWAYS feel like you’re moving forward in a manuscript, even when you cut things from a scene or chapter.

In essence, you’re always ADDING word count, instead of losing it, which helps keep you motivated. I, personally, die a little inside whenever I have to delete text during the drafting phase and have to watch that little word count number drop. During the revision phase, it’s a whole other story. I’m chopping words left and right. But when you’re just trying to get to the end of the story, or just trying to meet that daily word count goal, striking out can mean the difference between a good writing day and a dark, depressing one.

2) The Strike Out Method allows us to kill our darlings in small baby steps. I don’t know about you, but I get attached to things. I make excuses (desperate ones) to keep stuff. I spend hours making pathetic little bargains with myself just to avoid cutting something I love. With the strike out method, though, you can say to yourself, “I’m not really deleting it, I’m just temporarily suspending it.” Then later, when you have better perspective on the project as a whole, you make a more informed decision about whether it stays or goes. And most of the time…it goes. But you feel better about it. Because you eased yourself into it.

So don’t touch that delete key until you’re ready. Take baby steps with me. Learn to love the strike out.

Want to learn more? Check out the Productivity Hacks for Writers Online Course available at Writing Mastery Academy


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