Camp NaNoWriMo is officially over and can I just tell you I am relieved! While I am my most productive self during NaNo events, by the end I am plain Jane exhausted.
My goal was to draft my novel, The Lovers, which I set at around 50,000 words. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a light drafter. While I plot and outline, I am still a discovery writer at heart. So my first draft ends up being the main beats of the story and any scenes that jumped out to me while I was writing.
While it is common practice to let a novel “sit” for a while after drafting before revisions, I have found that doesn’t work for me, at least not at this stage. I’ve found a way that works for me and it involves immediately diving back into edits after getting my first draft down.
Now, I’m sure my drafting and revision style will evolve as I continue to evolve as a writer, but this month I’m going to walk you through my revision of The Lovers.
The very first thing I do when I am revising is to set goals.
My first goal is to have the novel ready for beta readers by the end of September. Now, I know what you’re thinking: yes, that is a very ambitious goal. I am using this blog to hold myself accountable. Also, this novel is the one I’m using for my thesis for my graduate school program, so that has a deadline of its own.
Now that I have my main goal, I break my goal into smaller parts.
Wish me luck, y’all. I’m going to need it.
Well kittens, we did it. I mean, I know I at least did it. I can't be sure how many of you are doing Camp NaNoWriMo but today marks the (sort of) halfway point. As there are 31 days in July, I think tomorrow at noon is the technical halfway point, but I am going to stick with the 15th and say I'm halfway.
I'm ending my day at 24,291. I have been struggling to write the past few days. Don't get me wrong, I have had some huge gains word count wise. But I find that when I hit about the 40% mark on a first draft, I start to stumble. That 40% mark is like 2:30pm on a Thursday after a rough week at work. I start dragging. I decided to jump out of order and write a scene I could clearly picture in my head. It was full of drama, with my characters spitting venom at each other and ripping the other one's heart out. And you know what? I powered through 24,000, my goal for the day, and I am feeling really good about my draft again.
I don't have anything deep to write about, or inspiration you haven't heard before, but if you're chugging along through the trenches of Camp NaNoWriMo, keep it up. The end is almost in sight.
As it is the tenth, we are officially one-third through Camp NaNoWriMo. I've spent a lot of time during this session of camp and the months preceding it focuses on my writing process. Now I realize that many of you don't know me, and that one day I may have to do one of those introductory posts, but, as your first clue as to who I am, I hate those posts.
I was scrolling through Instagram yesterday, avoiding writing (because are you really a writer if you don't procrastinate?), and I stumbled upon Adrienne Young's highlighted stories where she discusses her drafting process. If you aren't family with Adrienne Young, she is the author of YA Fantasy novels Sky in the Deep and The Girl the Sea Gave Back. I watched each of those stories as she drafted her upcoming book, Fable (which I received an ARC of through Goodreads and it is AMAZING).
And here's the thing, I felt so vindicated after watching her stories. She writes just like I do. Writing what she calls "lean drafts," Young ends up with a draft much below her target word count. Now, I have seen countless authors talk about how their first drafts are 125k, 140k, even 150k, and they have to whittle them down into the finish product. Young is the first author I have seen that discusses these shorter drafts. I'm not going to lie, I felt insufficient as a writer because my drafts are never these mammoths I have to come back and slash down. They are light, often and more often than not include quite a few places where I write things like "WRITE THIS WHEN I'M NOT SO TIRED" (yes, in all caps, like I'm yelling at myself) because I do not have the emotional capacity to delve into a character's psyche at that point but the action is flowing so well that I want to keep going.
There is a point to my rambling on about my process as a writer and it is not just so I can further procrastinate writing my actual novel. I went into my first NaNoWriMo green. I had no idea what to expect, what the nuances of writing were, or that there was such an overwhelming amount of information on the craft of writing. I just went in knowing I had a voice and a story to tell. I went in, as every writer should, believing that my story was worth writing.
And so I did. I drafted 50k for my first "lean" draft, and spent the next 18 months doing massive revisions and rewrites until I made something I was proud of. But, this is where the problems started, after my first novel, I was hooked. I needed to continue writing and I started devouring every text, every blog post, every social media discussion on the craft of writing. And I began questioning myself.
Is my process okay? Should I outline more? Do I need a giant board on my wall for all of my ideas? Should my first draft be larger than my finished piece? How much revision is enough revision? I could write an entire novel on all of the information about revision in particular. And, do you know what the result of all of my reading and questioning was? I stopped writing.
I got so lost in what makes a writer a writer, I forgot to do the one thing that actually makes a writer a writer: write. Now, this is not to say that you should completely ignore the idea of craft or stop trying to find tactics that work for you. The point of my rambling is to remember to write. Each writer has a process as unique to them as their story is. One of my good friends has a writing process completely different from my own, and I don't question whether his process is right. I question mine.
So I am here today to say that I will stop questioning my process. I will write and hone my craft through actually working on it. I will use suggestions for tactics that might work, but I will not let myself question my own viability as a writer if those tactics don't work for me. And if you came here trying to find out what writing process is the best writing process, the answer is simple: the one that works for you.
And now I will return to my novel and try to knock out the 2,100 words I need to day. Happy writing!