This morning, I was sitting on two chapters of Snowe Storms, each one having taken me a day to put together and each one no more than a thousand words of trash.
But, as I rounded out my evening of writing about my reindeer-hilted knife wielding heroine, I looked up to see that I was storming into chapter five!
I covered three chapters in one day rather than one chapter in a day!
THE BEST PART IS: I’M JUST SCRATCHING THE SURFACE
The trick to Noveldom being stress-free is accepting the fact that you have to keep moving forward at a steady pace.
You can’t get tired and take a week off because then you’re just a week behind.
And you can’t try to skip a part of Noveldom just because you don’t like it, because then you end up with a story that isn’t so great (and unless you have any publishing friends, probably won’t be picked up either).
Once you defeat your fear of failing and once you realize you’ll need five drafts (not the enviable three) to get the job done, you just kind of cannonball in and start writing at a sloppy rate to get the concept down as soon as you can.
This technique helps me scale my entire story within a week (five chapters a day in six days will give you a thirty chapter story) so I can start refining the finer points.
WRITING A NOVEL IS LIKE SCULPTING A MARBLE STATUE: YOU START BY CHIPPING AWAY AT HUGE CHUNKS TO GET DOWN TO THE GOOD STUFF
When I wrote my first novel, I felt like every word I typed had to be good enough for the final draft and, if it wasn’t, it had to be refined in the moment it was created or as soon as I went back to read it later that day.
And this hangup of being a prolific composer of storybook language on my first try held me back so much that I struggled to write more than one chapter, if not more than one thousand words, a day.
When I reflected on my experience with my first novel, I considered what had worked for and against me, and one of the first, and most obvious, conclusions I came to was that I had a habit of refusing my natural writing flow because of mental limitations.
Early on in my writing process, I had gotten stuck telling myself that my sentences weren’t good enough, or this chapter wasn’t good enough, or my dialogue wasn’t good enough, and, because of that impossible thinking, it took me three months to create my first novel when it really oughtn’t of taken more than one or two.
I’VE LEARNED TO BURST PAST MY LIMITATIONS LIKE A HYPER GAZELLE AND RACE TOWARDS THE END OF MY ROUGH DRAFT WITH GUSTO; MY NEGATIVE NORMAN TRAILING ME LIKE A STARVED LION THE WHOLE WAY
I’m able to put out five to ten rough chapters in one day because I don’t let my stinkin’ thinkin’ stop me from writing ridiculously horrible stuff.
Instead, I keep my head down on the keys, focused on pumping out as much skeletal structure and minor connective tissue as possible in as short amount of time as I can muster.
Once I have the choppy rough draft of my story, I can hunker down deeper into the Writer’s Trench and refine the whole thing.
BUT, if I take my sweet time, maybe producing a chapter a day, I find myself over thinking my story line (to the point where I convince myself it doesn’t work), second guessing my chapter ideas (even after I’ve drafted them multiple times), and justifying whole days off from my project in the name of “working through the kinks.”
But that’s the thing with this stage in the novel writing game: there are no kinks worth fixing at this point!
The rough draft I create in one week is like a giant marble slab with a few rough chunks hacked out of it. There may be the small semblance of a hand, or a face, but for the most part, it’s nothing. I can see it’s potential, I can see what I want to do next, but if I settle down to address, say, the nose of the thing, I end up with a very off-center nose…ya’ feel me?
LEARN FROM MY FIRST BOOK AND TAKE YOUR ROUGH DRAFT SERIOUSLY AND QUICKLY
Don’t think about it.
Don’t worry about it.
Just sit down with your outline and your notes and smack that shit out as fast as you can so you can start making it pretty!
I’m on day eight and I’ve gone from one chapter a day to three chapters a day and, tomorrow, I hope to make it to solid five chapters and, from there, I’d like to think I can hit 10 chapters on the next day.
I have no word count expectations for this draft or for each chapter. I simply write, from start to finish, each chapter as best I can.
When I can’t think of the perfect word, I use whatever alternative comes to mind. When I can’t think of the dialogue, I create horrible placeholders that I know I’ll catch in my editing phase.
Have you tried to throw down your rough draft as fast as you might a poisonous spider?
Well give it a shot, why don’cha!
Let go of your perfectionist writing expectations and just focus on getting the concept down. See how you feel. See what inspires you! See what needs work.
And then let me know how it went! I’m pretty sure I’m onto something here, with this fast-draft-smackdown!