This is me right now. Except my hair looks better.
Up until now I’ve been what’s classified as a slow writer. After all, it took me years to write “Crimson and Clover”. But I made excuses for it because it was the first book I ever wrote It was normal to take forever on those, right? And then I began my second book which, by the way, I still haven’t finished. Not even the first draft.
I blame this on my inner editor, that nagging little voice in my head that says things like these:
“That has to be the clunkiest sentence ever written. You cannot write one more word until you go back and change it.”
“I’m almost 100% sure you misspelled ‘consciousness’ in that last paragraph. You can’t just leave it hanging there. Go back and fix it. Now!”
“You know, if you’re going to have a character in 1975 stumble into the lobby of The Peabody Hotel in Memphis, you should really know what it looked like back then before you write it. There are probably very few photos from that time on the web, but you need to drop everything and look for them. And if that doesn’t work, you need to get in the car and drive down to Memphis – it isn’t that far! – and do some research in the library. Really, you can’t write any more until that chore is finished.”
“Yeah, that little twist you just threw in there? That’s not going to work. Go back and cut it out and try to think up something different.”
Yes, it’s all designed to make the writing better, but all it does is slow. Me. Down. Sloths were passing me like they were driving NASCAR race cars. Then I read the most amazing post by Roni Loren about how she trained up and became a faster writer. I was so going to do that, too! And then things happened.
A couple of weeks after I read that post I got the offer from my publisher. Then I signed the contract. Then I began working on revisions they sent me, writing my author bio, having my “official” author photo taken, coming up with suggestions for cover art and a new title, and of course, then the holidays arrived. I decided with regret I’d have to put the training up on the back burner and begin after the first of the year.
Right about the time the Christmas chaos got into full swing I got an idea for a new novel. This is nothing new; I have ideas for several novels that I haven’t started writing yet except for the notes I’ve jotted down. But this one wouldn’t leave me alone. The entire book popped into my head almost fully formed. I had so much else going on, and so I tried to just make some notes and put it aside until I had the time to deal with it. That didn’t work. This book wanted to be written and it wasn’t going to wait. So I began writing it.
I’ve never before felt such urgency to write a book, and I didn’t have the time to deal with my inner editor’s harping about adverbs, less than stellar paragraphs, inadequate research, etc. I had to get the story out before it drove me nuts. I remembered how Roni said that she would make notes when she thought something in her book might need to be changed down the road, so that’s what I’ve been doing as this new book is being written. I also set a word goal for each day, but I’ve been exceeding it so I’ve kind of thrown it out the window for the time being.
I’ve never written so much so fast before, and I’m really enjoying it! I’m not saying it’s been easy to ignore that desire I have to fix everything wrong as soon as I notice it, but it’s getting easier as I see the word count climbing higher each hour. Sure, it’s a first draft and is going to need revising and polishing, but with those notes I’ve been making I have a pretty good outline of where to get started with that.
This training up is something I’ve needed to do for a long time, and I’m thrilled this particular story came to me so strongly, giving me the chance to learn to write a first draft without a lot of angst. In a few more weeks my book should be finished.
By the way, if you’re a writer you NEED to check out Roni Loren’s posts on writing and publishing. They’re an invaluable resource and have helped me so much.
Now back to that new book of mine. It’s calling my name, much louder than my inner editor ever did.