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.
Writing dreams. Those of us who write or aspire to write all have them. Here’s a list of my Writing Dreams:
- Landing a book deal for my current WIP by the end of this year
- Being offered a huge advance and multi-book contract, enough so that I can quit my job and write full-time
- That each time I sit down to write, the words will just flow out my brain and onto the page
- That I can make my own schedule and write whenever the muse strikes
- My books will sell themselves
- My first book becomes a runaway bestseller, Hollywood comes knocking and turns it into a blockbuster smash hit staring Emma Stone and Chris Pine
Here’s the Reality to the above list of dreams:
- My first book, quite possibly, will never see the light of day
- Unless my name is Stephen King, Nora Roberts, or James Patterson, a huge advance, one that would allow me to quit my job, is just not going to happen.
- Writing is hard. There will be days where the words just flow out of my head and onto the page, but only on rare occasions
- If I only wrote when the muse made an appearance, I’d never write anything. Writing professionally means meeting deadlines — and that means writing when you don’t feel like it
- I’m not that great a writer and nobody knows who the hell I am, so I’m pretty sure my books won’t sell themselves. I’ll have to put in some effort to find readers and sell my work.
- That last one is borderline delusional but a fun daydream nonetheless
Dreams are fun to think about, especially when you’re having an especially crappy day. They give you something to look forward to, even if they are just daydreams. If you want to earn a living as a writer, you have to learn early on to not get caught up in romanticizing the “writer life.”
Writing is a profession just like any other. In order to succeed, you need to focus more on your writing goals rather than those crazy dreams you might have.
Here is a list of my current Writing Goals:
- Write every day. Set and meet weekly word count goals. (minimum goal of 7000 words a week)
- Finish my first draft, rewrite it, polish it, hope that it’s good enough to submit to either agents or directly to a traditional publisher and send it out into the world
- Write a second novel and go through the whole process again (hopefully will have found agent at this point)
- Post to my blog and social media (Twitter for now) on a regular basis and build a “writer platform”
- Write at least one short story a month for the rest of the year and submit them for publishing
The one difference between goals and dreams is Control. We control the outcome of our goals. Whether we achieve them or not is entirely up to us. Dreams are out of our control. I dream that the Publisher’s Clearing House Prize Patrol will knock on my door some day, but I can’t make that happen. Goals are the hard work that we put in while trying to turn those dreams into reality.
Daydreaming is fun once in a while, but I think I’ll stick with reality for now and focus more on reaching my goals.
This is day three of my novel-writing challenge. I just finished writing for the night and got in just under 500 words today. Yesterday was a little more productive with somewhere around 1200 words written. According to Camp NaNoWriMo, I should reach my 50,000-word goal by January 2, 2016.
Yes, I’m a bit behind schedule. However, I didn’t start my challenge until July 6th. Camp NaNoWriMo began on the first of July.
Before I started, I came across this post and found the advice for writing a first draft very motivating–particularly tip #2:
Forget about quality, just get it done.
I’m one of those people that will start writing a scene and the next day go back, read it over, and start revising it before the scene is even completely finished. I will revise the shit out of the first paragraph until I think it’s perfect. Problem is, it never will be perfect.
Writing a crappy first draft is okay.
That’s my new mantra. It’s what I have to keep telling myself in order to push through. It can always be fixed later. And isn’t that the point of a first draft anyway? I do have a general idea and a loose outline for this story with the major plot points. The first draft will help me figure out the rest of the story idea. When that’s done, then I’ll turn it into a better story by way of a second draft.