I love writing first drafts but the ideal pace for me is to just write and write and write until it is done. That’s what I did for The Ronos Trilogy and it was fun and felt super productive. My current Work in Progress (WIP) is coming along okay. It’s at 20k but I just want to get it all over with. Not that I’m not enjoying writing but this story has been in my brain for too many years now and needs to be on paper so me and my co-author can finally start making serious changes and rewrites.
5k to 10k
There are several reason writing the first draft quickly is better for me. One is that when the first draft is written quickly, and by that I mean 5k to 10k a day, it’s easier to keep track of all the plot points and characters. 10k a day means you are writing big parts of the arc in one day so it’s easy to keep track of. With this WIP I write maybe 1k a day if I’m not too tired from being out in the sun all day at my day job. When I sit down after work I want to just let the fingers fly across the keyboard but I usually have to go back and read to make sure I am where I thought I was and that the characters aren’t doing anything out of character to what I set up the day or week before.
I don’t have the best memory. Writing fast helps me solve this problem.
Getting the first draft done quickly means I can move on to making big changes to the story. I can look at it as a whole and see things like chapter 3 has too much exposition and not enough antagonism, that the old man character doesn’t really need to be in the story at all, the act two climax doesn’t break the protagonists spirit enough, or there isn’t enough dialog between two characters who are supposed to be best friends.
Yes I could make those changes as I write but, if you noticed my point from up above, I don’t have the best memory for things like that. It’s way easier to make and keep track of changes once everything is down on paper.
Once the first draft is done, you feel like you have accomplished something. There it is sitting on your desktop. A Word document with 90K or more words. There you are leaning back in your chair with your hands behind your head feeling awesome about the work you’ve done. Sure it’s riddled with spelling mistakes, factual errors, and plot holes but it’s still there. And by now you’re smart enough to know that every first draft is a dump covered diamond you need to wash off before showing it off to the world so it’s no big deal that it didn’t turn out perfect after one try.
Having the first draft done takes pressure off of me. It means that I’m not some lazy fool. I’m a writer who gets things done.
When the first draft is still being written there is always some doubt in my mind as to whether it will ever be read by any other soul. Once it’s done it feels like it has come so far already now I’m obligated to finish it. Which is a good thing. Maybe obligated isn’t the right word. Is it too odd to say I owe it to the story to finish it once I’ve taken it that far?
Wants vs. Needs
In a perfect world I would take the rest of the summer off and write like glad until the story was done. But it’s not a perfect world. I need to eat food, pay rent, buy gas for my car, and watch movies. Most movies are 3D these days so it can get expensive. I’m also going back to school this fall so I need to save up tuition and whatever else I can get my hands on so I don’ t have to work as much during the school year.
So despite what I want to do I need to be a responsible adult and just keep letting this story slowly eat its way out of me.
I do have Monday and Tuesday off. Maybe I’ll go crazy and try and double my word count. 40k is a good chunk of story.