No really its not that bad, still there is really something exquisitely grueling about drafting a novel. I’ve posted about trying to keep sane and generally healthy as a writer before, but I feel this post is more just a general rant/catharsis on the subject, sans many solutions.
Are we nearly there yet?
The sheer length of novels is a considerable battle in itself. I’m the king of procrastination at the best of times, with the whole daunting aspect of writing a whole book making it more palatable to do battle with my own willpower than an actual on paper project. And the worst part is that feeling doesn’t seem to lesson as you actually start to progress. I think the problem for me is that when I’m reading I like to put a book mark in and look down at my book to see how far through I am, and typically as I get towards the end I’ll devote more and more time to reading to bust through the last pages, not to mention that with good pacing comes faster reading as a book concludes.
This isn’t quite the same as when you’re writing, sure fast-paced writing might be somewhat fast-to-write but usually requires even more planning and careful attention as other passages.
My point is that, if like me you pen ~500 words a day, that’s still going to be 500 words whether you’re almost finished or not, whether you’re feeling good about hitting tens-of-thousands of words or whatever. Not that I’m that close to finishing a draft to be honest, but I have to confess the impatience is real.
Damn you inner editor
So I’m a huge fan of ‘vomit-drafting’ this is basically a cure for analysis-paralysis, anxiety, perfectionism, and just generally being blocked. In case it isn’t too clear this means allowing yourself to just vomit words onto the page, whatever you thing of at that time, without a care for quality. It’s not quite stream of consciousness as you can plot and plan but it is a great way to just get that draft onto paper. The theory is that good writing is re-written anyway and its easier to correct bad writing than put great writing onto a blank page.
But there is a flaw to this process, a major flaw. It does risk an incredibly poor first draft, as even as you spew words onto the page one can’t help but feel like the errors accumulate like a massive pile of dirt just waiting to crush you in your own dug grave.
Coming next – the zombie second draft
I know I’m overreacting a little, but it one of the most difficult issues to confront, requiring considerable mental and/or philosophical gymnastics is knowing you’ve got some major problems in your work and being able to ‘park’ them and persevere with the tale until such time as you can better confront them.
And speaking of zombies
Writing is hard work and will affect you as such!
A good friend of mine (Hi Anna) mentioned to me how tired they’d been after producing a novel draft in a short space of time. I have to confess that historically my writing has been in such fits and bursts, and my procrastination has been such that I haven’t felt too tired with it (although on an odd side-note writing does make my dreams more vivid at night, kinda creepy).
Lately though, I have managed to kick my own arse and get into a routine and to put it bluntly, holy shit I’m tired. I feel good that I’m devoting energy to something that I love, but I don’ think I’ve ever been quite so zombified by writing yet. There’s something weird about the topic where you don’t really think about how it might drain you, well I think we’ve all felt drained by the dread of the slush-pile rejections, but compared to exercise, work, socializing my head doesn’t seem to accept ‘writing’ as something that will wear it out, until that is afterwards!
Anywho, that post might have sounded a bit negative, surprisingly though it is pretty cathartic (maybe there’s a reason there are all these over-personal blogs in the world). Sometimes we just need rant I think.
What are your drafting woes? How you do deal/not deal with them?