Something’s gotta change…

Last week, my editor confirmed that she could review my manuscript 2 months earlier than we’d originally agreed (Sept 1 vs Nov 1). This was awesome news, especially since I had scheduled my line edit for Jan 2017. I’ll now have 3 months to revise based on whatever holes she rips in it.

But, there are downsides:

  • I have to actually finish this first book. I keep adding new scenes and/or rewriting existing ones. I’m not doing it willy-nilly, but I still need to finish.
  • If I don’t finish “soon,” then I won’t have time to fully polish the draft before sending it. That’s not catastrophic, but fixing obvious issues means I get more value from her review. (I’m talking about basic continuity stuff, plot holes, character arcs, etc.)
  • Put another way, the more polished the draft, then whatever holes she rips in it will probably be the ones I can’t see and/or don’t know how to fix. That’s a huge learning opportunity.

And it’s not just revisions that I’m thinking about. Once this first book goes live, then my goal is one book per year thereafter. That’ll be tough since I’m a part-time writer.

So when I say something’s gotta change, I mean my per-hour word count. I have to speed up. Sure, I could add a few extra hours per week but that time will increasingly come at the expense of other  important things (family, job, exercise, relax time, etc.).

Currently, on a pure writing day I average 750 words per hour*. That’s just OK. Since I typically write 4 days per week for about 3 hours each session, my per-week word count is also just OK — 9K.

The problem is revision. Writing IS revision, but if I throw out 50% (or more) of what I write, well, I might as well be producing ~375 words per hour.

I’m cutting myself some slack because I’m a fiction-writing n00b. I’m learning as I go. But since I plan to go further & eventually go full-time, I gotta change things up.

So, this past weekend I picked up a book that’s been on my “look into when you get the time” list — Rachel Aaron’s 2K to 10K: Writing Faster. That book came from this blog post she wrote a while back.

I’m almost done with my first read-through and, I gotta say, it’s been well worth the 99 cents. Here’s the crux of her advice: know what you want to write (before you start writing), be enthusiastic about it (the scenes, plot, characters), and track your time & productivity. The book goes into more detail and provides some practical advice.

Prior to reading her book I’d noticed that:

  • the scenes I’m psyched to write do come out faster (enthusiasm)
  • I write better in the early mornings
  • the scenes I plan in advance go smoother…and, as I’m writing, I’m able to introduce changes that make them cooler — b/c ye olde subconscious has been churning away.

So, for me, her advice/methodology resonates pretty well. And that leads me to my spiffy new plan for finishing Book 1**:

  1. Set a deadline for being done. Really done. Like, totally done. I mean it.***
  2. Identify the crappy scenes & why they suck
  3. Replace the crap with cool by outlining BEFORE I rewrite
  4. Rewrite ’em.
  5. Do the dance of joy. Optional.

Adopting this new process should also make my writing (and rewriting) of Book 2 go more quickly. Will I ever hit 10K words per day? I don’t know, but I’m happy to start with baby steps.

 

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* I don’t count revisions in word counts, but I’m thinking I should start.

** Offered in the hopes that writing it will help me commit to it 🙂

*** Anybody want a peanut? 50 DKP Minus if you don’t catch the reference!

mattbishopwrites

Fantasy author writing a series inspired by Norse myth.

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