As noted a while ago, I've been experimenting with a linear novel-writing approach--writing from first to last, no skipping around as I usually do (and many other writers do too). I set some strict rules for myself, but left some flexibility as well.
1. I had to write every day I had been in town 24 hours (I've been traveling 30+% the past few months). The "24-hours" restriction was to allow for jet lag!
2. I set no minimum length, but tried to write until I reached a natural break--either being too tired to continue, or when I hit a plotting wall, defined as a point where I was too tempted to skip ahead! In most cases that turned out to be about 600 words; my lowest was probably around 100 words (haven't checked in detail), my longest was thousands.
3. And, of course, I had to write in order. I couldn't skip around. I did sometimes go back to the beginning to restart after a long trip, and add in a line or two, but that was going back, not forward, and I always picked up at the end and continued to write.
It was surprisingly effective for me, because it forced me to solve problems as they happened instead of writing all the cool scenes and then losing steam in connecting them up. Plotting is hard for me, because when creating instead of analyzing I tend to go to the most obvious, straight-line answer and then can't think of alternatives as well. Many mystery writers (including my wife Toni) can hold multiple alternatives in their heads, and sort of tug at the plot. I can analyze someone else's work that way, but not mine.
On 21 December, I reached a major milestone: I completed a first draft, of 64,024 words. I did a complete read-through thereafter, fixing some minor inconsistencies and inserting names, stuff like that (I didn't want to slow myself down, so I would insert a QQQ or something like that, that would be easy to find). Yesterday, on 30 December, I have a fixed first draft, or second if you prefer (who can tell, with word processors?) of 64,897 words.
It's still a little short, but I found--again to my surprise--that instead of what I usually do, which is overwrite and then cut, the linear approach forced a very tight series of events, which then I can expand upon with dialogue, exposition, and so forth. In other words, I kept writing about things happening--one action after another. (Some of the action included dialogue, so it's not like a thriller novel, except in spots.) I'm rather pleased!
I started roughly the 2nd of August, where I had a 2900 word burst of a starting point, and finished the first tweaked draft the 30th December, which means that writing entirely on the side, with numerous breaks for travel, I managed a novel-length work in five months. Not NaNoWriMo, but not bad! Since you can sustain a contract with a mystery publisher by generating a novel every nine months to a year, I could theoretically do that or even a bit better, though I do think I will need some editing yet, to refine voice and so forth. (It's in a Southern US idiom, which is not my own, though I grew up in North Carolina.)
I've given it to Toni to read through, and we'll see if she likes it too. I'd do that anyway, since Toni and I always read each other's stuff and advise (Toni's joke is that I suggest something about which she says "oh, that's ludicrous. No way," and then, 24 hours later, she'll come up with the same idea, but now it's brilliant...), but it is generally a good principle to show your work to someone else (I like editors--they can be more objective), and having another published writer in the house is more than convenient!
I neglected the LJ a good bit during this period, because when it came to a decision between "write LJ" and "write novel," it was "write novel" every time! Some of this was that dirty word "discipline," but more of it was that I enjoyed the process--which is exactly what I was shooting for, of course.
I'll try to get back on track on the LJ while Toni reads the book!