WRITING: The Dreaded First Draft

Hey everyone!
(the new and the old)

I wrote 8000 words today! (and the longest book I’ve ever written is now 86k, 12 chapter in with 9 more chapters to go, yikes!)

I feel like I deserve a gold star for being probably one of the craziest aspiring writers out there. I don’t know this for sure but based on the tweets I see, I’m fairly certain.

That being said, I’m writing a new WIP, a first draft of Flame of the Apocalypse, the third book in The Ferryman and The Flame series.

I know a lot of people struggle with their first drafts, they pre edit, they change up their plot, they get worried about the logistics, and ultimately they don’t get to the end of the book for months.

That’s where I’m different.

I’ve found that what works for me is writing the book as fast as humanly possible, and this is how I do it.

1) OUTLINE

I outline the entire book first handwritten on paper. That way I’m not flipping back and forth on computer screens trying to figure out what happens next. I have it in a notebook beside my laptop. I read my chicken scratch and I turn it into something pretty.

In the outlining stage I think about everything that COULD happen in this book, and everything that HAS to happen. Then I see how much time I’ve got for all of it. I mean I don’t want to write a 200k book so I try to shoot for a book that will be roughly 120k. I outline scene by scene, and I watch the scenes in my head. I sometimes hear conversations in my head and I write those lines down. Some scenes are simpler and so all I’ll write is: Character has a nightmare about this.

The outlining is what saves my ass. I let it sit for a long time, in the case of Flame of the Apocalypse, I wrote the outline in January, but didn’t touch it until May 21st. Yes that’s right, 5 months on chewing on this outline.

I had to piece together book 1, edit book 2, go through beta testing again, and live my life in between. I HAD TO. When the time was right, I knew I’d rip it off like a band aid and be done with it. I knew I’d do the following . . .

2) WRITE LIKE THE WIND

When I wrote Flame of Justice I wrote 7 chapters in June of 2010, stopped, had life to attend to, got stuck in November and wrote the other 78,000 words in December. You heard me, 78,000 words in one month. 22,000 of those words were in 2 days. 48 hours.

Do you get the part where I’m one of the crazy ones yet?

I have worked a 100,000 book down to 5,000 words over 20 days. 20 days. 20 days. That’s LESS than a month if I write everyday which I don’t because some days I have to read minds and when you’re not thinking your own thoughts . . . well you get the idea.

But then some days all I do is write, and I follow the outline that I’ve memorized, I’ve watched in my head thousands of times, I’ve dreamed about, I’ve scared the bejesus out of myself with.

And I work hard everyday to get it done. It has to be one continuous motion because of the list of bad things that can happen to aspiring writers during the writing process such as

A) You improve as a writer and your style changes.
B) You hit the wall, have a nervous breakdown and suddenly think your work sucks, all of it, no matter what you do.
C) You face writer’s block and the words won’t come.
D) Life gets in the way and you can’t find the time to write.
E) You let life get in the way and get distracted by bragging on twitter, blogger . . . (hey I wrote my 8000 words today I’m a saint!)

Or various other things. The reason you have to keep going and do it everyday until it’s done is because you don’t want the horrors of an unfinished book, or a book that reads like six other books, or a book that doesn’t keep the same voice throughout. It’s a catch 22 because as a writer you’re supposed to be improving, expanding your vocabulary, etc. etc. But at the same time you need to stay true to your characters and your novel. Every novel is written with a different mood, setting, attitude, and style. And the thing is, you don’t decide that until you’re writing the book, until you’re past the outline. It’s something that just happens.

So that’s it, it’s a two step process, like a line dance except more creative.

Namaste,
Rhi

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