Here’s What I Do & Maybe You Should Too Or Not: Starting Your Book
TODAY’S BREW: A lot. I’m writing almost around the clock
I was crybabying a little bit about the writing process of Running Away recently, and that it was HAAAAAAARD. This is one step away for me from saying “my muse left the fucking building” or something. Books don’t happen; you make them. No muse required.
MY BOOK BELLYACHE: AN OUTDATED MIX OF OLD MATERIAL AND NEW IDEAS THAT DON’T MESH AND I HAVE TO MAKE THEM.
I can pussyfoot around it, or I can write a book. (hehe. pussyfoot. ) So, I buckled the hell down on what I need to do to get this book where I want it, when I want it. My characters work for me, not the other way around. But this is not a post about how badass I am. This is what I did to get my shit handled. Maybe it will work for you, too.
1. I DETERMINED HOW MANY WORDS I WANT THIS FIRST DRAFT TO BE.
Start at square one. I generally go with a 65,000 word first draft goal. This allows for plenty to be added later, and still space to cut as well. Use whatever number you like.
2. I GAVE MYSELF A DAILY REQUIREMENT OF WORDS. NOT GOAL. REQUIREMENT.
Look. A “goal” that you give yourself implies that you might not achieve it. A requirement, on the other hand, allows no room for fault. DON’T GIVE YOURSELF AN OUT. This is your dream, nobody else’s. 1000 words a day is good for me. A challenge, but achievable.
3. DO THE MATH.
That means I have 65 days to write this book, not counting what I have already written. That’s my buffer if I get sick, or whatever. But 1000 words a day, every day, until November 1st. Boom.
4. ACCEPT THAT THE FIRST DRAFT IS GOING TO BE FAULTY.
There’s going to be more drafts. As many as you want.
5. MAKE A LIST OF THE DRAFTS YOU WANT TO DO.
This is tough, but doesn’t have to be. There’s a million things you want for your novel, and there’s a level of complexity I want in mine, and it takes a few tries to get it there. I give this process the attention it deserves. This is a long one, so pay attention, bitches. This has now moved on to LETTERS.
A) Draft 1: OPERATION SPIT IT THE FUCK OUT.
Get the words out, all 1000 per day. You can make them go away later if they’re awful, but you have to start. You have to.
B) MAKE A LIST OF DRAFTS FOR ALL THE AWESOMENESS YOU WANT IN THE BOOK THAT YOU’LL HAVE TO REVISIT AND MAKE HAPPEN AFTER THE SHITTY FIRST DRAFT.
My list of drafts is as follows (and yeah, I’ll share it with you, word for word).
DRAFT 1: GET THE WORDS OUT. BAD AND GOOD. MINIMAL RESEARCH.
DRAFT 2: CLARIFY STORY. MORE RESEARCH. ASK WHY, OR IF THERE WAS ANY OTHER WAY. MAKE IT WORSE (for your MC).
DRAFT 3: THEMES….THICKEN IT (for me, death, crows, fate, fire…)
DRAFT 4: VAMPIRE STUFF
DRAFT 5: DIALOGE/VOICE. MAKE SURE THEY SOUND LIKE THEM. AND DIALOGUE IS CONVERSATIONAL.
DRAFT 6: GET RID OF THE FUCKING WORDS JUST, I FELT, I WAS. (your list of words that show up too often may be different. Chuck Wendig keeps his in a file in a drawer, and pulls it out during editing.) If you don’t know who Chuck Wendig is, start here. http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/02/26/how-to-karate-your-novel-and-edit-that-motherfucker-hard-a-no-foolin-fix-that-shit-editing-plan-to-finish-the-goddamn-job/ I’ll try not to judge you.
So, there you go! That’s how I write a book. Well, not all books, just this one, but man, I do feel good about it. And I’m off to a great start, which means I’ll have a great finish.
I leave you with this thought, and this is me tooting my own horn a little, because finishing a book is a big fucking deal. If it sits in a drawer and never sees the light of day, it’s a big deal. 30% of people who start writing books never finish those books.
I WILL FINISH THIS BOOK, AND EVEN MORE ON POINT, I WILL FINISH IT BY THE DEADLINE I SET FOR MYSELF. I always goddamn do. Because if I can’t remain true to what I want, what’s the point? If I don’t push myself hard enough to make it happen, how good can it be? Writing isn’t supposed to be easy and comfortable. It’s supposed to bleed your fucking soul a little. Revel in your own suffering and challenges. WRITE THE FUCKING BOOK.