Happy Thursday, fellow Struggling Writers. I took last week off thanks to the Very American Holiday™ but I am back now, with my ever evolving thoughts on writing! And away we go!
July is here and, with it, Camp NaNoWriMo. I sadly missed April’s camp, so I was determined to participate this time around. It also happens to fit neatly into my Border Towns second draft schedule, so it seemed perfect. My goal for July? 40,000 new words. Since I have been struggling of late to write consistently at home, I told myself 2000 words a every work day will get me over the finish line.
Despite some early setbacks, it’s actually been going pretty great. I was just thinking yesterday how much better I feel about this new draft than I ever did the first one. I said on Twitter that I’m actually excited to do my daily pages every morning. Whenever I finish a scene and check my outline, I say, “oh, yeah, that’s a really good one!” And I haven’t even got to the exciting parts yet!
I don’t expect this feeling to last. I’m only 14000ish deep out of an estimated 120k. Perhaps by the end of it I’ll be throwing my notebooks across the room like I did when I finished draft one. But until that happens, I’ll be riding this wave.
The Weekly Struggle
So, as I mentioned, getting this new and fun draft off the ground was not without it’s share of hiccups. Writing the hook felt not unlike I was using that torture quill from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. You know the one. I become downright hysterical at one point, ripping out the first five pages of my new notebook as each new attempt of an opening scene failed to live up to my wildest expectations.
“This is revision!” I told myself. “I can’t just write whatever and promise to come back to it later. Now is later!”
…Yeah, it was ugly. I ended up spending the majority of my first day back to the page on what ended up being a 650 word scene. I finally convinced myself to move on, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that it was just… wrong.
The next day, I was still feeling distracted. I found it hard to pick up writing new words because all I could think about was returning to that first scene and perfecting it. I had transcribed and emailed myself the previous day’s work the night before, so I printed out the hook, picked up a sparkly blue gel pen, and… I edited it.
Let me tell yall, it. felt. incredible.
I never would have imagined myself as loving the editing process, mostly because I was dreading it so much. I honestly didn’t know how to improve something that was already written. Not because I thought that my writing was perfect to start, far from it, but rather because… since this is the best my brain could come up with the first time, why should I believe it’s going to think of anything better the second go around. Wow, did I have another thing coming.
My favorite part was when I just straight crossed something out, when I cut something without the intention to rephrase or move it somewhere else. Just boom, gone. It made me feel powerful, in a weird way. I also liked taking a clunky sentence and transforming it, via improved syntax or vocabulary or what have you, until it was functional yet beautiful.
I spent four hours on the edits of this one scene, probably more than I should have (though I justified the time expense by saying, it’s the hook! it’s the most important part! it has to be perfect!), and when it was all said and done I actually felt happy with it, an emotion I rarely feel about my own words on the page.
It worked so well for that first scene that I decided I was going to incorporate editing one previously written scene a day into my process. It hasn’t all been picture perfect, but it has helped me move ahead with a draft that is radically different from it’s predecessor while also scratching the revision itch.
Don’t get me wrong, though, this is not a technique that I could see myself adopting for a first draft. When it came to the first draft, all I could think about was getting from Point A to Point B to Point C, all the way until it was done. If I had gotten stuck in the weeds of editing as I went along then, I probably never would have finished.
The only tricky thing I’ve run into so far is, as it stands, I find myself inflating my word counts while I’m editing. I’m terrible at including description and have to remind myself that the readers can’t see what’s in my head, so I typically end up adding instead of cutting. I know that’s going to have to change when I do a proper edit.
And, rest assured, I’ll be here to flail and panic at you all when that time comes.
That’s all from me this week! I’m going to try super hard to get a blog post to you next week, but this month is rife with work obligations (pesky day job, paying the bills and cutting into my writing time) so I make no promises. Until then, however, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few!