Just working on the first draft during NANOWRIMO at the moment, but think I’ll continue through December to reach aboooooout 100K words. Currently just over half-way to the NANOWRIMO-goal of 50K.
The process of a first draft has been unexpectedly freeing but also terrifying – like having a friend who’s a hot mess and pulls you into their world by sheer gravitational force. So I’ve been researching other writers views on the first draft. Günter Grass wrote his first drafts by hand in a blank book from his publisher/printers – often adding small drawings.
This approach I quite like and might adapt to a second draft, but I’ve really been quite taken with the method Anthony Trollope used. He would be woken at 5:30 (by a servant he paid extra to bring him coffee) and write to 8:30, his main goal was to beat the clock by writing at least 250 words in every 15 min.
I’ve had a lot of small wins by replicating this technique – although I prefer to make my own coffee (because I have an alarm and a private place to write that won’t disturb my partner). I write by hand in a notebook from 6:30 until 8:15 aiming for 7 pages of about 250 words (1750 words/day).
Most obviously, writing sans computer has helped because a notebook can only provide one thing – a space to record ideas with a pen. There’s no multitasking to just real quickly looking up something in a Wikipedia article. What surprised me was how much better writing by hand works for me using this method. Each page can hold maximum 400 words of my handwriting – meaning I can visually gauge if I made my minimum.
Also, getting it done first thing in the morning when the house is quiet still feels like I’ve done something with the day (ego boost) but also I’ve found that leaving this practice for an undetermined time/place on the weekend makes me MEGA uptight and anxious. If I start at 6:30 I’m still stupid enough with sleep that it feels like a weird, stream of consciousness continuation on the page and I get to find out what happens next as I write. It’s messy worldbuilding and doesn’t necessarily make sense in the moment, but now I have SO MUCH material to play with later. I’ve realized I also learn more about the world by writing about it – and since I’m pretty strict about not writing more than 7 pages, there’s been enough time to problem solve in the background, as I go about with the rest of the day.
Also really enjoyed this interview with illustrator Carson Ellis where she said sometimes the best method for her in terms of writing is to just write about what she’d like to draw. It’s been a really excellent REDIRECTION/PROMPT when I get stuck trying to consciously problem solve and/or get critical about things during this stage. I accept this as the brain-dump phase, it can get messy and grow unintended smells and attract unexpected ideas to cross-pollinate it. It’s all feeding the worldbuilding and I can be critical and play around with edits at a later point.