Yesterday (March 24, 2021) marked the one week in milestone in the writing of the first draft of my new Sissy Jupiter adventure, tentatively titled "The Hands of Moaning Bones". The last few days have been extremely productive, as the numbers bear out. I write in 14 minute sprints throughout the day and in between other activities needed for my writing and teaching business.
I've learned a lot so far. The most interesting take away from this first week is how many fascinating little nuanced plot lines appear while I write. This was not unexpected, since that's the way the creative process goes, but what surprised me was how many and the quality of the ideas. Did not anticipate that at all.
Of course, some of these may only appear brilliant to me at this moment. Thank goodness there are multiple revisions to undertake before the story ever sees the light of day, because sometimes when it comes to writing, I can't trust my own judgment as to what works and what fails miserably.
Today, I plan to write another 5000 words or so and keep at it. At this rate, I will meet the challenge, but it's still early in the game and anything (life?) can happen.
Yesterday's writing progressed well. Again, what I do is write in sprints, usually 14 or 15 minutes at a time. I can write 1100 words in 28 minutes, so I try to stick to 14 minute sprints.
Make no mistake, this is first draft copy. Like Hemingway said, it's sh!t and, yeah, I can confirm that. But what I find totally surprising is the ideas that spring forth while I put the crap down. I've now developed a wicked subplot for my main character, Sissy, and and intriguing surprise that will be foisted on her later in the story :)
This is me tenting my fingers in anticipation...
It's clear as I write this novel that I'm getting faster at putting words down. When I think back to that first novel (the one that shall never see the light of day) and my other first novel that I actually published, I'm reminded of the painstaking effort it took to write. I see this too with my novel workshop writers... they struggle over every word in the first draft.
I suppose it comes down to developing an effective mindset to writing 5,000 words or more per day... one that doesn't fuss about spelling or punctuation or even the best way to weave a line. That heavier work comes after the first draft is done, and that's how I wrote The Quantum Awakening once the first draft was completed.
Truth is, we must all find what works for us. And I'm thrilled I've learned how to write quickly, with a story that has been well-planned (even though it morphs along the way).
What works for you?
I challenged myself to write the first draft of my new novel series in four weeks. But I didn't start the challenge until I'd already started writing. Fortunately, I hadn't gone very far, and with some extra time to write these days, I thought I'd best get to it.
Yesterday, Day 5, was a productive day. I wrote just under 7,000 words and I'm half way through the Beginning sections.
The novel plan is divided into 60 sections: 15 in the Beginning, 30 in the Middle, and 15 in the End. You'll sometimes see me refer to sections by number, e.g., B9 is the 9th section in the Beginning group.
How I write
I plot the story out before I ever start writing, so I know where my major plot points are, and I build in what happens in each of those sections. Yes, the plot morphs as I write and the characters take on lives of their own, but this plan frees me up to "just write".
I write in 15 minute sprints. Before setting the timer, I review the section and play out in my mind where my characters need to go and do, then I go. When I'm writing under the clock, I don't stop to revise or edit along the way, so the first draft looks sketchy with missing punctuation, spelling mistakes, and so on. I don't care. My goal is to get the first draft done. It'll get revised several times before it's finished anyway, so I just write.
When the 15 minutes is up. I end the sentence I'm working on and then go do something else for a few minutes before returning to the story.
This way, I average 580 words in each 15 minute sprint. Two sprints gives me between 1100 and 1200 words. That results in a novel of about 65,000 - 75,000 words after revisions - a good length for my readers.
Now, I didn't begin writing like this. For the Ross 128 Trilogy, I'd write about 1250 words in 1:15 hours. Yes, I revised along the way and fixed up the punctuation and such, so it was a much slower process. But I wrote The Quantum Awakening (coming out in April) with sprints, and the first draft flew by. So I'm trying this with my new Sissy Jupiter series. It may not work. And that's okay.
Today's goal: Write another 3 sections, about 3500 words.
I began writing the first draft of book 1 in a new series last Thursday. Over the years, I've learned that the best way for me to write is in sprints. Two x 15 minute sprints results in 1,000 words. The most I've written in a week (on my novel that becomes available in April) is about 12,000 words...
So I am challenging myself to write the first draft of this novel in 4 weeks... approximately 15k - 16k words per week for a total of 60k - 65k words. Once I revise it, the novel should come out around 65k - 70k based on how I revise and edit.
It's a do-able challenge.
As I started my day, I was just over 5,000 words.
I'll update my progress daily :)
Hey, any tips you can send me way, please do!
There are lots of reasons why you should write a book. Short story collections, poetry collections, recipes... all good. You get an idea you want to share with others, and you write that idea in a book.
Still, while writers coming through my workshops consistently tell me they want to write so they can finally feel that sense of accomplishment from writing their story, there remains an underlying, sometimes unsaid, goal of getting published.
There was a time not that long ago when if you got picked by a publisher, you could make a decent living as a writer. Back before word processors. It also gave you bragging rights. "Look, Ma, I'm a published author."
Today, publishing is easy. Anyone can publish. (Now, they are degrees of being published. Self-publishing is for losers and scum. Indie publishing is for government grant-supported companies i.e., legitimized welfare. Only the big publishers really matter).
But here's the thing: publishing is not the point of writing.
Getting picked or doing it yourself is not the point.
Sure, I encourage all my writers to publish what they create because it makes the process more real, more risky. Which means, in the end, we become better writers.
So if publishing is not the point, what is?
What you become by going through the writing process is.
Hi, I'm David. I write science fiction from a Christian worldview that promotes hope. Want to know the darker details? Click here.
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