Okay, after jumping on the RoW80boat, I ended up too busy bailing bilgewater out of my manuscript to post updates on any sort of regular basis.
If you care, my original goals were something like this:
- 4000 words per week on the WIP
- 4 hours spent on the revision of the previous WIP
- 15 meaningful minutes of social media per day, no more
- 2 blog posts per week
After almost two months, here’s what I can report:
- 17,000 new words for my WIP
- 13 hours spent revising the previous WIP
- Hella more than 15 minutes of social media
- 2 blog posts per week except for 2 different instances when I was sick, and a scant handful extra when I found something neat
And here’s my half-time analysis so far:
As soon as I posted the goals, I figured out something. Within a week, I realized my current WIP was at a point where I couldn’t sustain the wordcounts I’d been comfortably achieving because I’d reached the terminus of a draft. Now, this is not to say that I’d reached the end of the story, or even a complete draft.
Using Lessons Learned
One of my big accomplishments for 2011 was to pay attention to my own writing process and focus not on developing something that made sense or that came from other people, but that came organically from how I work, and used techniques from other people to improve it. Even when I tried to faithfully follow a drafting process, plotting, or outlining, I’d always find myself writing before the process was complete. I’d tell myself it didn’t count, or that I was just noodling, but I knew, in my bones, that the story wanted to start writing itself. With my current WIP, I avoided the guilt over not completing a process and said, “Okay, self, consider that part of the process to be complete and this new part just starting up.”
And I learned an incredible amount of stuff. I rewrote the first third of the book about seven different times, but none of that was wasted effort. I was getting to know my characters by putting them into interactions and situations and discovering how they reacted and why. I call it a “Discovery Draft” but I’m not the first person to coin the term. Up to then, I’d been thinking a discovery draft ought to be a full thing–a whole story from beginning to end with all the t’s dotted and the eyes crossed. But my mind doesn’t work that way, and I’ve come to realize with 20/20 hindsight that none of my first drafts were ever complete. They were bones, skeletons, frameworks upon which more complete pictures could be hung. And subsequent drafts did show a more complete picture.
Flowing To The Work
In this WIP, I’ve relaxed the need to have something “complete” (or even “fit for other human eyes”). And wouldn’t you know it, the bones of the story built a skeleton. But I couldn’t keep building bones. During the second or third RoW week, I ran out of bones. I had to go back and pay attention to joints and craft muscle, which is what I did, and I found out the muscle also needed to be held together with connective tissues of transition, theme, and meaning.
Also, running the concurrent revision with the other WIP meant I was learning about the building blocks of revision–in which you tear down the weak points in your story and build them up stronger, and noticed myself actually internalizing some of those revision lessons. I discovered that I could build them into the construction process–during and after the discovery draft so that I wasn’t sifting through completely random clues given by my subconscious, but rather clues that were handily tagged with “significiant, even if you don’t yet know how.”
So now I’m sculpting scene by scene. I’m trying to work through two scenes per week. The revision WIP is coming to the end of a phase in the revision process as detailed by Holly Lisle’s “How To Revise Your Novel” workshop (also logistically, it’s turning into a pretty big, not-easily-totable binder that I can no longer work on while I’m running errands, which cuts my work time significantly, but I will adapt). And I’m currently hunting down significant ways to make my presence on social media something other people want to be around.
One of the side benefits to doing this job is that I get to meet other writers and talk shop. And trade skill sets. I also get advance looks at really fantastic books. I got to beta-read a super-awesome book that grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. I can’t wait until you all have the chance to check out Time’s Fugitive by Jennette Marie Powell, because it was–