Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Taking Your Time While Writing

This post may or may not seem obvious. Or else ya'll are freaking out over what I'm about to say: take your time when you write. And after you write.

Some people write only 1,000 words per day. Others will stop once they get a chapter. Others will write, and write, and write, until they literally fall asleep at their laptop with a word count that's 5 or 10 k more than they had when they started. All of those are okay.

When I say "take your time," I literally mean: take your time. Everybody writes at different speeds and at different times. It all depends on your own personal process, of which is duplicated inside nobody else. Write at the speed that's natural for you, and your book. Because the first draft is supposed to be messy, and whether you write it in a week, a month, a year: the first draft will still be a first draft.

I finished my first draft of The Hollow Men in one month. Well, twenty-five days. I didn't do NaNoWriMo, but I started on November 1 and finished it the day before I turned nineteen (Happy Birthday to Me!). That was November 2013, and now it's almost May 2014, and I still haven't even gotten halfway through a second draft.

Okay, maybe a bad example because, well, ya'll have heard my rant about school. But here's where all of that time comes in handy:

-I'm not writing, but I'm thinking about THM almost 24/7
-All of this thinking has gotten me to come up with loads of ideas to make my draft better
-Taking time away from the novel has enabled me to break any emotional connection I had to that first draft

That last point is what I'm trying to get at. When you finish your first draft, you feel like you're married to it. You love it. When you realize that you have to hack away at it with a chainsaw and probably scrap at least half, you tuck it under your arm like a football and run the other way because how the hell could anybody expect you to do that to your baby?

Give yourself time away from it once you finish your draft. Odds are you're so burnt out that you can't even think straight, so take a few days or even a week hiatus just to remember that yes, there is a life outside that portal you call a doorway.

Come back to it fresh-minded and ready to edit, and you'll catch so many more mistakes and opportunities for the entire novel to grow.


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