Poetry Corner is preempted this month to bring you this awesomefied list. With NaNoWriMo around the corner, I thought this would be a good time to post this since October is often NaNo planning month. ^^ I’ll be there, crazy project idea in hand! Anyone planning to join me? ^^
Preamble: Despite the fact that I regularly post up a ton of words when I’m drafting, my first NaNo trek fell horribly and embarrassingly short. (That’s what I get for going into last year so cocky, I guess.) But it was nothing if not a learning experience, so I’ve compiled a list of things I do to stay focused in normal situations. (Some of which I did not do last year because I completely freaked out. Long story short: should have worked on something else.) Hope you find it helpful or entertaining, whether you’re doing NaNoWriMo or not. ^^
Most Words in a Month: Somewhere in the neighborhood of 65,000.
Most Words in a Week: Around 20,000
Most Words in a Day: A little over 10,000.
Fastest I’ve Ever Completed A First Draft: 3 weeks
And I’m hoping to break the first three records soon!!! Even by 1000 words, I’d be deliriously happy for like, 3 days.
1) Go in with a plan.
Doesn’t have to be a full outline. (I outline as I go.) Just be prepared. Have a plot summary highlighting a beginning, middle, & end. Have your research done already. Have your characters named. All of them. Major/minor, everyone you know off hand that you’ll need going in. And if you want, a hand-full of extras just in case, though I often make these up as I go.
2) (most obvious) Make time for it.
I’m a night owl, but I’ll get up early if that’s the only time I think I’ll have to write that day. I also limit TV and cut back on my other hobbies. The DVR becomes my friend, and it gets quite bloated when I’m drafting.
3) Go into your project having a good, solid, open relationship with EVERY single one of your characters (including the bad guys).
Be willing to listen to them, let them take over, whatever. Trust me. It saves you a lot of time when you don’t have to beat motives out of people, drag around difficult characters, or beat yourself up trying to figure out what to do next because they are just sitting there. We don’t write EVERY day. On those days (or weeks) when you’re not working on something, you can be planning and getting to know your characters.
4) Love your story. (another given)
If you don’t love what you’re writing – it’ll go a lot slower. And if you don’t love it, you should probably work on something else. And I’m not talking about the temporary “OMG I hit a snag” hate. I’m talking bona-fide “I rather be writing be ANYthing else!!” kind of hate.
5) Let your first draft have flaws.
I don’t mean let it be crap. Just forget perfection. It doesn’t exist and your brain doesn’t need the stress. This is what revision is for. Fix it then.
Coda: I set a deadline, usually of 3 to 6 months depending on what I might have to tackle in the story. I’m crazy so I always try to beat it and just about always do by a month or more. Everyone is different, but I draft fast because I want the foundation set. For me, editing is when you can really craft something awesome and though I dread the heck out of it, I have a lot more fun editing if the bones are already set. It’s all fine and dandy to take your time, and take it if you really need it, but if you’re going to write professionally, regardless of the route you take, it’s really nice not to make your fans wait forever for your next book, unless you’re writing a 1500 pager like George R.R. Martin. (And seriously, dude?) If you’re never written something super-fast, don’t be afraid to try it. It can be a lot of fun, and your brain actually will keep up with whatever pace you set. ^^