It’s Friday night here, In Australia, and Week 1 of this full-time writing experiment is drawing to a close. If you’ve seen my work plan, I was supposed to have written 20,000 words. So, how did I go?
Well, I’ve had five leisurely breakfasts on my balcony.
Oh, you want to know about the word count? Well, that’s complicated…
I estimate that I’ve written 15 to 20 thousand words over the last five days. The reason I can’t report the number with my usual precision is that I’ve deleted so much of the already-written text, I’m only 2,739 words ahead. That’s less than my planned daily quota. In fact, today I’ve worked for eight hours and ended up with about 500 words less than I had last night. Blin!
I am, however, very pleased with my current efforts. To start with, I overcame a major writer’s block – Monday was hard, as I went into some kind of shock of “this is it, sit down and produce a masterpiece.” I did sit down at my new desk, but managed to push out only 1K of words, and I could tell they were not gold.
Tuesday morning was a bit better, but my afternoon and evening were taken up by babysitting my niece and a writer’s group. I managed another 1K of pedestrian dribble.
It was Wednesday when I decided to stop forcing myself and to get reacquainted with my own work. I started writing in September, and it’s been so long that the manuscript read as if a stranger wrote it. A dull, tired stranger with a dayjob that sucks all of her creative energy, living nothing for character development, leave alone comedy.
Conventional writing wisdom dictates that you’re not supposed to edit your first draft until it’s finished, but I had no choice. There was every writing faux pas imaginable – from telling instead of showing, to boring filler fluff, to characters that reacted inappropriately and/or inconsistently, to finally (gasp!) a Deus ex Machina.
A magical thing happened on Wednesday, as I mercilessly slashed paragraph after paragraph. I started falling in love with the story again. I finally knew I was on the right path when, after I cleaned up and rearranged a major scene, I had goosebumps reading it. I could not stop working that day, finally forcing myself to go to bed around midnight. I then got up at least twice to turn on the light and write ideas on a huge whiteboard I have in my bedroom, so that I can finally go to sleep. It didn’t work very well – I woke up at 4.30, tried the whiteboard trick again, but had to admit defeat and make coffee instead.
The week is technically not over, so I should be able to add to the pile in the next two days, but currently I’m at 36K words. Entertaining, quality words that I would not be ashamed to send to a structural editor or beta-reader. Considering that Shizzle, Inc ended up being only 79K words, I’m almost half-way through Indiot.
I’m not only happy with the current progress, I’m very hopeful that I might have learned something about how I work. Forget all the rules – if editing helps you avoid writer’s block, then edit. If it paralyses you, then don’t even look at the first pages. How many words should you write every day? Well, that’s also up to you. I could not help but google this and found a pretty interesting article detailing average daily word output of famous authors. The morale of the article is that you should find your own pace.
The only thing I can add to that is that you should have fun, too.