Learning curve

Discipline is not my strong suit. Just ask any diet I’ve ever been on. 

So, like I’ve said before, this write-straight-through thing is testing me to my limits. Especially considering I’ve also decided to write every day in order to reach my goal of finishing this YA manuscript before I go to National the last week of July. Read the above quote about discipline to tell you just how difficult writing every day is for me, as well.

I don’t think I’ve EVER written every day. And, really the only reason I’m doing it now is to keep up the momentum, and because there aren’t all that many days left until National. I can manage 5 pages EVERY day, but if I tried to do 12 pages a day 3 days a week to get basically the same amount of work done, I’d have a lot harder time at it.

I’ve been at this exactly a week now. I’ve written 48 pages, ranging from 5 to 10 pages a day. This more than I’ve written in a LONG time. I’ve had to use the reward system a couple of times…like not watching a movie with Darling Daughter until my 6 pages was done last night. Took me about 2 hours. Sadly the movie was only mediocre, so it wasn’t much of a reward, but oh well.

I’ve also made a few discoveries over the week about what the benefits of writing a fast, rough first draft actually are. I have several writer friends who subscribe to this method, and I’ve also spent much of the week complaining, er, talking about this method with other writers.

Here are some of the benefits of a shitty first draft, head-down, butt-in-chair method of writing:
1. I feel like I’m accomplishing more. I’m watching that word meter on my sidebar move to the right more and more each day. Feeling like I’m making progress spurs me on the next day to see more progress.

2. Gena said in her comments yesterday: “As I’m writing that draft I make discoveries about plot and characters that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. So instead of re-working those beginning chapters a million times as things change, I just have to rework them once, after I finish the book and know exactly what’s going on.”

This is a biggie for me! I know from having written 5 books now that by the time I get to about 2/3 of the way through the book, I start having revelations about what the book’s really about. If this is a change from what I started out writing about, which it inevitably is, and I’ve polished that first half of the book to perfection and now have to make changes? Yikes! I’ve invested 3 to 4 months sometimes by this time, and the changes to that polished manuscript are going to take even more time. And then those changes will have to be polished on top of that.

It’s kind of like refinishing a floor and painting it with the first color that comes to mind, only to discover later that you don’t like the color, so you have to completely start over, refinishing it again and painting it the new color. Twice as much work. Should have just waited and taken more time to make a color decision in the first place.

On the other hand, if I’ve reached the 2/3 point in only 3-4 weeks and I have to go back to make changes later? Big deal! The amount of time invested in perfecting what I’ve written is much less. Who cares if I have to change it, it was rough anyway?

A spin-off to that is this: I don’t know how many times I have had to go back and cut prose that I LOVED. Most of the time I loved it because I had honed it to be just the right amount of funny or just the right amount of poignancy. If I have to cut that stuff, it breaks my heart. But, if I haven’t yet put my heart and soul into it? Eh. No loss.

3. My friend Toni Hingleton told me on the phone the other day that she had read that editing as you write (over and over, in my case) tends to edit your “voice” right out of your writing. Your voice is usually the first thing that comes out of your mouth, er, hands as you write. It’s the natural way your writing flows. If you constantly try to perfect and correct what you’ve written, you may end up losing that elusive voice that every editor talks about but no one can quite define. Good point!