I took a week off from writing. Eight days to be exact. This wasn’t something that I planned on doing. One day off just happened to snowball into an unexpected vacation from writing. Needless to say I’m behind on my manuscript.
This first draft is slowly moving along. Yesterday, I finally opened up the file again and started writing. I’ve been trying to get through the first Act. It feels like it’s taking forever. The scenes I’ve written so far are a jumbled mess that are full of holes. The writing is atrocious, the characters are flat, and the dialogue has no sparkle. Throughout the process, I keep asking myself the same question — Why? As in, why the hell are you putting yourself through this torture? There is, of course, only one answer to that question:
Because I don’t have a choice.
Without a first draft, I won’t know what the story is or how to fix it, or even see if it’s worth a rewrite. I’ve never written a novel before. I imagine the process will be the same every time I write a book — the torture part, that is. I just want to get the damn thing out of my system. Get it written already. That’s what keeps me chugging forward. I’ve gotten this far, I might as well keep on going. It’s the only way I’ll find out what happens next.
It’s been about a week since I started my fast draft challenge and I’ve come to one conclusion: I’m not cut out to write twenty pages a day. If you are one of those folks that can knock out twenty pages in two hours, more power to you. That’s an impressive achievement.
Me, I’m a slow writer and I’m okay with that. It’s part of my girlish charm.
Over the past week, I’ve been chuggin’ along with my first draft. I’ve managed to get in about 5700 words or so. Following my romance beats outline has been a big help. It’s given me some direction so I haven’t been flailing about writing aimless gibberish. I also went back over some of the scenes I’d written in April during Camp NaNoWriMo and found that quite a few of those fit in with this draft, so that added to the overall word count. Check out the tally over in the sidebar.
I am officially throwing in the towel with the fast draft challenge and aiming for about 7000 words over the next week. If I can keep up that pace, it should take me about another eight weeks to finish the first draft. The key is to just keep going.
If you read my last post then you may know that I’m going to challenge myself to do a fast first draft in two weeks. This is based on Candace Haven’s Fast Draft workshop. She’s not offering the class right now, so I’m going to wing it. The idea is to do a fast first draft to the tune of twenty pages a day for fourteen days in just a couple hours a day.
Today was day one for me.
I didn’t do so well.
In two hours I managed about six and a half pages. Perhaps first day jitters? Or maybe twenty pages a day is an unrealistic goal for me. Whatever the case is, I think a little over six pages in two hours is a pretty good start.
I recently took a workshop taught by Gwen Hayes called Writing to the Beat based on her book Romancing the Beat. She teaches you how to use a beat sheet to figure out the romance arc of your novel. I bought her book a few months back and when I saw that she was teaching a class based on her beat sheet system, I immediately enrolled. It really helped me map out the course of my current WIP — the one I started during April’s Camp NaNoWriMo.
I don’t know if Gwen is going to teach this class again, but if she does, and if you’re a romance writer, I highly recommend the class and her book — and no, I’m not getting paid to say this.
Usually when I take online workshops, I’m more of a lurker than a participant. The introvert in me likes to prevent me from putting myself out there. This time I did myself a favor and participated. I received much-needed feedback on my WIP and met a great group of writers in the process. Since the workshop ended, we’ve kept in touch through Facebook.
The other day, one of those writers mentioned she’d taken a Fast Draft workshop taught by Candace Havens. I’ve looked into taking this in the past but never took the plunge. During the Fast Draft workshop, you write the first draft of your book in fourteen days. Twenty pages a day to be precise…in just a few hours a day. A monumental task when you, like everyone on the planet, have a busy life. It just seems so impossible. But I want to try it myself and see if I can do it.
Unfortunately, Candace Havens isn’t offering that workshop right now, so I think I’m going to wing it and try writing a first draft in fourteen days on my own. Twenty pages a day is a lot to accomplish in two or three hours a day. I have an outline and now have my romance beats all worked out. For the next few days (maybe the rest of the week) I’m going to create a semi-detailed scene list for my WIP and then write my ass off for two weeks and see what happens.
I’ve been dragging my heels with this novel and just want to get the first draft over and done with already. I think I’m up for the challenge, and who knows, maybe I might just surprise myself and actually pull it off.
It’s day seventeen of Camp NaNoWriMo and technically I should be at around 17,000 words if I want to meet my 30,000 word goal by April 30th, but I’m not quite there. I haven’t given up, though. I’m still chugging along and making progress. There are thirteen days left in the month, and hope is alive my friends! I may just meet that goal, yet.
The whole point of participating in NaNoWriMo this month was to get back to writing on a regular basis. My flash fiction experiment didn’t work. Probably because I long to write novels and not short fiction. Whatever the case may be, I’ve written thirteen out of the past seventeen days, which is probably a record for me, and I’m beginning to feel like an actual writer rather than one who aspires to write.
In the beginning, my daily goal was 1000 words a day or 7000-ish words a week. According to my stats, I’m averaging just under 700 words a day. My goal for the rest of the month is to improve upon that average and bring it up to the 1000 words a day.
The most important thing is to keep on going until I’ve reached the very end…no matter how long it takes.
Some time last year, I purchased Scrivener. I’ve kind of played around with it, but I haven’t taken the time to really learn how to use it beyond the very basics. Right now I’m using Scrivener to write my first draft. Rather than writing one long, ongoing draft as you would in a Word document, I’m writing my novel scene by scene, each in their own document.
Some people are a bit chaotic when they write. The story comes to them in bits and pieces, and Scrivener is ideal for that kind of writing. You can easily use Scrivener to write your scenes and then organize them as you need to, moving things around as new ideas come to mind.
I’m a linear writer. I’m writing my story in the order in which it happens, starting from Chapter One. I’ve written several scenes so far, and I’m organizing them using the three-act structure with sub-folders for chapters and more sub-folders for scenes. This is going pretty well so far, but I feel like I’m not using Scrivener to its fullest capacity.
So I’ve been googling and found some links for tips on how to use Scrivener and thought I’d share:
- A great post from Justine Covington with great examples on how she uses Scrivener to organize her writing
- Natasha Lester has complied a list of posts she’s written on how to use Scrivener to write a book
- Jason M. Hough has written two posts on how he uses Scrivener, part 1 and part 2
- K.M. Weiland has two very detailed posts, one for outlining using Scrivener and the second on how she uses it to write her first draft
- Literature and Latte, the maker of Scrivener, has a list of tutorials on their website
Do you use Scrivener? If so, feel free to share your tips in the comments section.
It has been roughly one week since starting my 50,000-words-in-30-days writing challenge and one thing has become very clear to me.
Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is an unrealistic goal. For me, that is. It’s just not going to happen. And I’m okay with that.
The first few days of writing were a bit exhausting. Like most writers, I have a full-time day job. I need to be completely alert in order to do my job well. Staying up and writing well past my usual bedtime resulted in a week where I dragged ass at work and was rendered pretty useless. That affected my pay and I cannot afford that to happen on a regular basis.
Realistically, I have a window of about two and a half hours to write during work-day evenings. My days off afford me a lot more writing time. Because of this I’ve gone ahead and changed my writing goals to ones that I know I can achieve.
I’m writing the first draft of a 55,000-word category romance. Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest is what started this whole novel-writing challenge in the first place. I’d read about the contest back in May and decided that using it as a deadline would get my butt in the chair and words on the page.
For years I’ve been saying that I want to write a novel but so far have made no progress. I am a bona fide dillydallier and I have to employ tactics that will allow me to reach my goal, which in this case is a deadline of September 21st.
A realistic goal for me is 5500 words a week, maybe more if I can double my writing hours on my days off. At any rate, I’m giving myself ten weeks to complete the first draft. In all likelihood, I will not be entering this manuscript in the contest. So far what I’ve written is horrible and will need to be rewritten. But I’m getting the story onto the page, and this contest deadline will serve as a tool to help me reach my goal of writing a novel from start to finish.