Writing Tip #105

Don’t be alarmed if your writing process changes from book to book. As many of you know, I wrote the second half of my first novel, Baby Grand, fast and furiously — 1,000 words a day for six or seven weeks. So, naturally, when it came time to write my current novel, In the Red, I planned on doing it the same way — you know, stick to what works. The plan was to sit my butt in a chair and crank out 1,000 words a day, every day, no exceptions.

And I have. Sort of.

For some reason, I’m finding that the 1Kaday writing process doesn’t seem to be working for this book. Some days I’m on track. Others not so much. Sure, I’m distracted and full of self-doubt, but I was while writing Baby Grand too. That’s not the problem. Things just seem… well, different:

  • The music I used to motivate myself while writing Baby Grand doesn’t work this time around. While a song seemed helpful and inspirational two years ago, now I listen and think, This song reminds me of Baby Grand. In fact, it sort of feels like it belongs there. In that world. It would be like asking Bailino to make an appearance in my current work-in-progress.
  • With Baby Grand, I wrote often at night. With In the Red, I find that I write more during the day — and I like to write out of the house, particularly at Panera Bread.
  • With Baby Grand, I pretty much stuck to a linear process. I wrote the book from beginning to end. Now, I’m all over the place — writing the ending before the middle and then heading back to the beginning.
  • The other day, I wrote and wrote and wrote and ended up netting about 200 words, because I had cut a lot out during the process. If this had been Baby Grand, I would have sat there until I had written a net of 1,000 words. This time, though, I felt it was enough to have netted the 200 and, guilt aside, decided to power down until the next day.

What gives?

With regard to that last point, at first I thought I was just slacking off. But now I’m not so sure. I’m well into In the Red. It seems silly to chastise myself for not sticking to a schedule when whatever it is I AM doing seems to be working: As of this morning, I have about 61,000 words written (227 pages), which somehow I managed to do without my closely monitored 1,000-word-a-day regimen. (Baby Grand was only about 79,000 words when I finished the first draft back in August 2010).

In other words, I’m close, and I’m getting there. And I think in the end that’s all that matters.

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4 thoughts on “Writing Tip #105

  1. OMG. I was just saying something similar the other day. I always thought I had a “process” until I stopped and thought about it and realized all three books (well, the two published and the one I’m working on now) have NOT followed any sort of process at all.

    And yeah, I’m like you: I like the 1000-a-word-day quota, but, with this book, I haven’t been sticking to it, even though I am making some sort of progress.

    I think you’re right: in the end, all that matters is getting to the finish line with the best work possible…how we get there is irrelevant (well, maybe not completely “irrelevant”…but the process part is more post-publication fodder for interviews and blog posts). :)

    Keep at it!!

  2. I thought I was the only one! With my debut, Sade on the Wall — and all other novels I’ve ever written — I wrote linear, 1,000 words or more every day, until the first draft was done. For some reason, though, the one I’ve been working on for the last almost year has been a completely different process. It’s been hard; I’ve never had such a hard time writing in my life. I was lucky the other day to get 300 words out!

    I wrote one of my other novels in an all-over-the-place way, so maybe I’ll try that with this one.

  3. Dina,

    Your latest post really hits home with me. I’m trying to complete my second novel (really my 4th), and I’m at about 60,000 words and writing slow but steady. I don’t go for a daily word count. I just try to keep this one question in mind every time I sit down to write: What is the scene objective?

    I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks again for sharing your writing life with all of us.

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