Author, Indie Author, NaNoWriMo, Self Publishing, Writing

The 50 Percent Rule – For Writing

Writing to me is a fluid beast that wants to get free and roam away from my keyboard, so I rope it down with rules and regulations.  Some of you may share my feelings and for those who do, allow me to introduce one of my top 3 regulations on writing.

Rule #3 – The 50% Rule

The 50% rule states that when working on the rough draft of a manuscript, refrain from contributing to any creative work associated with said manuscript’s content until at least 50% of it’s projected word count has been written.  Said work includes, but is not limited to: Cover art, content & character sketches, conversations about said manuscript with friends and/or colleagues, business transactions and marketing.  Doing so will assure momentum toward completing the final project will sustain itself.

This is more difficult for non-outliners.  Half the projected chapters or half the projected word count or until you get that feeling in your gut that you’ve crossed the halfway point in your story.

I’m going to use the word “I” in the following sentences, but if they apply to you, feel free to substitute the wording.

50% Rule – Disambiguation

Everything I do or create that is not the manuscript, but that is tied to it does two things.  First, it detracts from the time I could be writing said manuscript.  Second, and more importantly, it places increasing pressure for me to complete said manuscript, else all of the things I created will have died with it  They will be beings without a world to call their own.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESNow, there are exceptions to the 50% rule, specifically in terms of a series.  If you’ve already written 3 of 5 parts in a book series, then the 50% rule needs not apply.  You have already gained sufficient momentum to write the rest of the book series in most cases.  I have experienced this effect with the Resonance Saga and I can imagine it applies to other special cases as well.

4 thoughts on “The 50 Percent Rule – For Writing”

  1. Can I say, Amen? If so, Amen! I actually just launched a fictional blog, authored by the primary character in a book I have completed, and only now that I am pushing for representation/publication. If you’d like to check it out, I’d love to know what you think. Thanks!


  2. This makes a lot of sense. That first draft can be a struggle, and my priority is always to get it finished, otherwise there’s a part of me that will worry I never will. (Though in my case, if I’m going to abandon a project it will probably be a bit earlier, say a maximum of 20% or so of the way through.) Plus even when you’ve finished the first draft it’s probably still a long way to publication, assuming it’s going to be done properly with multiple drafts, beta reviews, editing etc., so probably much to early to worry about the cover for example.

    That said, creative ideas can strike me at any time so if I happen to get some inspiration for a possible cover design while still writing the first draft, for example, I’ll write it down and come back to develop it later.


    1. Cool beans. And to comment on your 20% rule, I started a few manuscripts that I didn’t feel comfortable or competent writing. Part way through, I either scrapped the project or changed something fundamental about the plot or world. I usually focused less on percentage for that judgment call and more on about three chapters in.


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