Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Garbage Drafting

I’m not sure what else to call this.  Sorry folks.

I’m writing my first draft of this story, tentatively titled SINCE THEIR AFFAIR.  My last story took longer than I wanted to finish.  It took me two years from start of draft until I finally stopped editing/revising the thing this spring. Only 6 months of that was revision.

I expected I would get faster as I wrote more.  Huh. About that.

I know I had a lot going on.  I was pregnant and then I had a baby.  And after that, there was the gigantic time suck that is mothering a newborn.  (I mean that in the best way.  Kisses to my loves.)  I rarely had time to jump back in the saddle or even manage a few minutes here or there to gaze longingly at the horse.

If I were one of my friends, I would remind them that sometimes life has other plans and that family is more important than anything else.  And I would say, “all of our journeys take different time” and “we’re not all on the same exact path” or even, “STOP being so hard on yourself right effing now!”  I would even advise my writing friends that this is the time we should be feeling out our process, this pre-signing-of-contract time.

I’m trying to take my own advice and give myself a break. It's in my nature to be hard on myself. I am an annoying Virgo.

One problem I found with a long first draft phase is that I lost momentum a lot and had to regain it. As I revised, I found lots of places where the tone felt different and realized it was probably because I wrote that piece a year earlier.

So, since this is a new book and a new start, I've decided to set a goal to force myself through the first draft as fast as possible, faster than I ever have.

I’ve been doing okay so far. Since the beginning of the month, I’ve written almost 14K words.  That’s a pretty good push for me. I’m usually about a 5K a week kind of writer.  This is a bit more than that.  So, I’m happy.

Here’s what I’m doing to write fast:
1)      Plot.  I’m focusing on just getting the “what happens” part of the story down.  What do they physically do?  Some of that is wrapped up in what they say.  So that’s what I’m writing.  What are they saying and what are they physically doing. 

2)    I’m giving myself permission to write ugly.  Seriously, I’m like a monkey slinging poop. It feels like it’s all clichés and bad dialogue tags and weak/boring verbs.  I keep telling myself I’ll fix it later.  I hope it’s not like trying to push a boulder up the hill when I’m done.

3)    I’ve even written some parts out of order.  This is incredibly new to me. (Bad dialogue tags and weak verbs are not, well, new for me. *ahem*)  If it comes to me and I can’t get it out of my head, I put it down on paper.

So far, the tapping of keyboard keys has drowned out the internal editor. Mostly.

But, I could use any help you’ve got!  Tell me, how do you write fast?  Any suggestions to make writing a first draft easier?


Amy said...

Great post. I'm in the same boat with this draft. I need to write faster.

Unfortunately, life fills up your hours quickly. You are doing everything right, for you. Don't give up. Vicky Dreiling posted on a facebook page that she wrote her book by writing 100 words a day. Just 100 words every single day.

I tend to write fast and sling poo as you said. I'm trying for 1200 per day for most days. Days where there is too much going on -- 300 minimal.

I'm trying to get the draft done fast and spend the time on editing. I'm hoping that works.

Good luck and keep it up. Congrats on the new baby!


Marnee Bailey said...

Hi Amy!! *waves* Thanks for stopping by! :)

I think our per day numbers are about the same. I'm with you; I know I take a lot of time in the revision stage so I just want to get this part over with so I can focus on polishing things up. :)

And thanks for the congrats. The little dude is 2 now. I have no idea how that happened so fast. I started my last story at the beginning of my third trimester. By the time I got back to it--when he was 3 months old--I realized what I'd written during the third trimester suffered from horrible baby brain. I think I deleted most of it. LOL!!

Good luck spitting out your first draft too!!

Janga said...

I'm not the person to give advice on writing fast. I do think you're right about being willing to write ugly. Eloisa James said something similar in a video she did a couple of weeks ago. I don't have the quote, but essentially she said you have to be willing to just keep going even if you know what you're writing at the moment is no good. You can fix it later. I wish I could find a cut off switch for my inner critic so that I could do that. Too many days I just write and trash, write and trash.

If I didn't write non-linearly, I'd get even less done. One thing I often find writing out of order is that a later scene may shed light and solve a problem that made me give up on an earlier one.

Marnee Bailey said...

Janga - One of the things that really bothered me this last time was that I spent a LOT of time revising. And the whole time I kept thinking, "Why'd I spend so much time on the rough draft if I was just going to rewrite/redo/revise the breath out of it later?"

I know lots of people who revise as they go and it works best for them. I don't think I'm like that, though. And if I'm not going to revise efficiently as I go, I need to just get to the revision phase.

Or so I kept thinking. Who knows if it'll work better or not, but it's worth a shot I figured.

And I'm always so impressed by you gals who write out of order. Even though I'm doing it here or there, I have a hard time seeing how the scene'll go without everything before it.

TerriOsburn said...

Slinging poo. That is hysterical. Or for Talk Like a Pirate Day I should say shiver me timbers that be a funny yarn.

I adopted this "vomit it out" philosophy a few years ago and it's worked for me. The two things that are a MUST are my storyboard and trusting my characters. Took some work but when I really and truly put my belief in the fact these characters know the story and know what they're doing, everything changed.

But I cannot write out of order. For me, it would feel like trying to paint the walls before putting up the drywall. Kudos to those who can do it though. And by all means, if something is working, let it run.

MsHellion said...

I am no help. I am the slowest writer ever. So slow, I'm not sure I can be called a writer most days. But the part where you say you lose momentum AND the tone is completely different--that's me. That's what I do. And it's for the latter reason especially I wanted to work on writing this one faster.

I don't want to call it vomiting it out. I don't mind saying a shitty draft--I just don't like the word vomit/barf/chunking nuggets. Shitting out a draft as fast as I can is fine.

I wish I could write like Anne Gracie, organically and near perfectly, revising as I go, but clearly I'm not that kind of writer. I'm not a draft in 26 days either (OBVIOUSLY). I'm a middle ground girl, I guess. I'm writing things on this draft that I go, "I don't even remember what I named his mother" but I put in some brackets and keep going because looking for this information will lose the rhythm of what I'm writing.

There are also things I write and I *KNOW* this isn't the plot I imagined in the beginning with this character, but the character is telling me this is what is going on--so I have to vow to straighten that out in the revision. Clearly I won't know these characters as well as I like until I get to the end. Whatever.

There are things I write that I know are completely "modern" sounding in a historical, but I write them down because they make me laugh and I can make it sound more authentic later. Besides that line wasn't the important line anyway--it was the response that was the point. Stuff like that. And you know how I hate writing anachronistically!

I've had a character show up who I wasn't expecting and now the plot is doing more changes in my head--I assume organically--but I feel like one of those Universes (my brain) where every choice a character makes affects the outcome of that plane of existence. If I went back and took out that choice, the outcome would be different--and so when I was thinking originally how the outcome would be, it's very weird to see your brain shifting and the scenes buzzing in your head, as if adjusting for the new choice. Obviously, you want your characters to make decisions that affect their Universe like that, but I have to say, it's weird knowing I'm in charge of it and that I'm seeing it all happen. It really is a little like being God.

TerriOsburn said...

And most important, it's fun!

You'd rather shit it out than vomit it out? *shakes head* To each her own.

MsHellion said...

I did write an ending--just to have an ending, of sorts, sort of as an incentive to keep typing back when I only had 50 pages and I didn't think this was going to happen. Ever. I think it helped...although I have to say I don't think the ending is going to remain the same. My brain is already tweaking it on the side... *LOL*

I don't mind writing things out of order, just because, like a sort of madwrite, for a change of pace. I can work with that. Yet I know having that scene, it's going to be a rewrite when you finally get to put it in--because I've seen how much the characters change. Also you do run the risk, you wrote a scene that no longer exists in that character's future.

So using Terri's metaphor (I don't agree about painting--that revision, not part of house building/novel writing), it'd be like building the Winchester mansion. There are some scenes you can write ahead that if you used them--they'd be like stairs that go nowhere or a door that opens to nothing.

MsHellion said...

I. Hate. Vomit.

Shitting I do every day. Vomiting I rarely if ever do. See the difference? No? I'm not surprised.

TerriOsburn said...

(I don't agree about painting--that revision, not part of house building/novel writing)

I have no idea what this means. I mean, you CLEARLY disagree with me on something (shocker) but I can't tell on what. LOL!

TerriOsburn said...

I said to each her own! Stop trying to debate something I'm not arguing. LOL!

MsHellion said...

You said that you couldn't write out of order because that'd be like painting walls you hadn't put up yet. I think of painting as the revision stage, not initial house building (story writing first draft) stage.

YES, shocker.

You were being critical I'd rather crap than vomit. And I'll take it however I want!

TerriOsburn said...

You build your house your way, and I'll build my house my way. ;)

And since I've forgotten for 2 dang days now, Monday was Q's birthday. So happy belated birthday, Q!! *sets scotch aside for him*

Lisa said...

Great post Marnee! I'm right there with you-I'm vomit drafting too. My goal is to get a complete draft (80-90k) done by the end of the year. I have to set a goal and be held accountable, otherwise I can procrastinate till forever. In order to do that, I have to keep my butt in the chair, shut up my doubts and inner editor, and just get it done. I have to have faith that I can come back and fix it later.

And yes, I'm one of those who writes out of order too. It'll be....interesting come the editing revision stage, lol

As Nora says, "You can fix a bad page, but not a blank one." I'm doing my best to take it to heart. After all, if it's good enough for La Nora, it's certainly good enough for me!

Marnee Bailey said...

Ter - I agree about the storyboard. If I hadn't known what the general plot was, I definitely wouldn't be able to move this fast. I'm hoping for a 10K week this week and that would be impossible if I were wondering every second what basic direction I was moving in.

Hells - I wish I wrote all organic and revised as I went too. It feels like that would be less long term work. Maybe it isn't, though. Could be one of those, have straight hair, want curly things. LOL!!

I have been doing this too!! I'll bracket and highlight it so I see it later and just keep moving. If it isn't super important, I'm just powering through!!

There are things I write that I know are completely "modern" sounding in a historical, but I write them down because they make me laugh and I can make it sound more authentic later. Besides that line wasn't the important line anyway--it was the response that was the point.

I do this as well!! Sometimes pausing to "sound historical" takes more energy and time than I'm willing to take. So I just write it like I hear it and then I figure I'll mess with language later. Like I said: plot right now. I mean, there's a good chance I'll cut some of that stuff. I don't want to waste time perfecting the word choice on something I'm just going to trash later.

And I love being God of my own little made up universe. LOL!!

As a side note, I find both shit and vomit equally offensive.

Carry on with the debate.

(Q! Happy birthday, dear!!!)

Marnee Bailey said...

HI Lisa! *waves!!*

Go you with your vomit draft too! (I'm sorry, girls, that's what I'm calling it too. Vomit, feces, whatever.) This is your first, right? Good luck! The first finish is the best, I think.

You know, I know lots of people who write out of order. If that's how it comes to you, you have to trust that. (Besides, thinking about revisions during first draft is a sure way to constipate the brain. Diversion! Distraction! Look at the shiny lights and just keep writing!!)

And I agree with you, if it's good enough for La Nora.... I wanna be like La Nora when I grow up.

Maureen said...

Debatin' the merits a' bodily functions. We be a strange crew a' pirates!

Now, when it comes ta writin', I don't believe in a right or a wrong. If'n it works for ya, Marn, it be the way ya need ta write. As fer speed, some days the wind fills yer sail and some days it don't.

The one thing that do work fer me when I am writin' - somethin' that be a stranger ta me right now - I tend ta edit as I start the next day's writin'... But if'n yer terribe picky, that would slow ya down too much.

Jus' write and move forward!

Marnee Bailey said...

You're right, Mo. :) Just write and move forward. I can be pretty picky. Like I said, I'm a perfectionist through and through. It's annoying. I'm working on it, as I find it to be a frustrating character flaw. The pursuit of perfection makes me forget sometimes to just enjoy the "good enough."

I'm working on it.

P. Kirby said...

I write out of order all the time. In fact, whenever I'm stuck, it's often because I'm trying to write things in order.

But...I write out of order, because I often get a snippet or two of dialogue in my head from a "later" scene; I don't want to lose it (thinking, "Ooo, that's good") and end up writing the whole scene. Since I'm writing totally by the seat of my pants, having those later--often emotionally crunchy scenes--written ahead of time, gives me something to drive toward.

Anyway, I think the write poo/garbage/vomit approach is terribly helpful. For me, obsessing on getting it right dries up the joy in writing fast (and it kills my voice).

Maureen said...

I've done the writin' out a' order, I've done the writin' without a' chart. I've thrown me compass overboard and sailed wherever the wind takes me...

If there be a 'wrong' way ta write, then it's when ya stay anchored...

Granted, I be landlocked meself too much, but it will come fer me... I need somethin' temptin' enough fer the Kraken ta break through the reef...and haul me ass outta sea!

TerriOsburn said...

I love how we can pop in and out of pirate speak and no one makes mention. :) Argh!

No wrong way. But sometimes you have to be open to trying new tricks, just to get unstuck and to find out what works for you.

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

This post cracked me up and I'm totally printing that image and posting it above my computer.

I'm probably no help here either. I took me over 2 years - maybe 3 - to "vomit draft" by book. Slowest vomit in history. Why don't I weigh only 98 lbs by now....

Anyways, if it's working go with it! That's all that matters. :)

And don't forget - you always have the next book to try something else with too. So learn what works here, and tweak it next time.

Maureen said...

It be International Talk Like a Pirate Day!!! Get yer 'rrrrrrr' on!

Marnee Bailey said...

Pat - Anyway, I think the write poo/garbage/vomit approach is terribly helpful. For me, obsessing on getting it right dries up the joy in writing fast (and it kills my voice).

This is exactly why I'm trying to embrace it this time around. Obsessing about getting it right. I'm focusing on "doing" right now, and I'll worry about "doing it right" later. LOL!!

And RRRrrrrr!!! Break our yer tankard o' rum and shiver me timbers!!

Marnee Bailey said...

Scape - I loved that picture too. LOL!! That's how I feel every time I sit down at the computer right now. "Time to start just throwing it around!" hahaha!!

But I agree, I know the other way didn't work out as well. So, try something different this time. :) What's the worse that can happen? When you realize you really don't lose anything, it's a little liberating. :)

Marnee Bailey said...

If there be a 'wrong' way ta write, then it's when ya stay anchored.

RRRRrrr... truer words never been said, lassie.