It has been a very long while since I last sat down to work on WAVERLEY, my current WIP. First it was the workload over the holidays – I tried, but I just didn’t have the energy to write on top of meeting all those deadlines.
Then, during the past three weeks (my recuperation phase, as it’s now fondly called at the Bookish household), I found myself procrastinating the final approach to the computer where my writing program rests waiting for me to – at long last – click on it and open it up. And start writing.
Here’s the thing: I really, really like Stephen King’s idea of whipping out that first draft without going back to reread, not until the first draft is done. I like the sound of that as much as I like the idea of working without an outline, so that I have the fun of discovering what happens as I write. So I’ve been determined to do both things.
But there comes a time when one has to look facts in the eye and say, “flexibility is a good thing”. And that time is now.
Because, you see, the seven weeks of not-writing has really pulled me out of the loop when it comes to WAVERLEY.
It feels a lot like putting down a book when you’re only half finished, and not picking it up until seven weeks later; I don’t know about you, but I hesitate to pick up such books again (which is why often when I put down a book and don’t pick it up for a while, it’s the kiss of death for that book even though I hang onto it, fondly thinking that, yes! I will! eventually! finish! reading it! Doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, sad to say). The excitement of reading the first half is, by that time, only a ghost of its former self, and it feels like a lot of work to pick up where you left off.
Not only has my momentum been lost, but there are certain things I remember only vaguely. And I also added a new, important character and it would be nice to go back and add in the scenes where we first get to meet him, and re-do the scenes that he’s supposed to be in, only he wasn’t, because at the time I wrote them, I didn’t realize he was supposed to be in them.
So I’ve decided to print out the 50,000 plus words of WAVERLEY and give it a readthrough before I start working on it again – even though I’m really only at the halfway point.
(For all of you who’ve offered to be my first readers, no need to panic. The first draft will likely be over 100,000 words, which is way too long for a children’s book, but my intention is to pare down to the requisite number of words by the final draft.)
After the readthrough, I will begin my “it’s just 20 minutes a day” daily writing goal again. It worked so well for NANTUCKET, and I know it’s going to work well for finishing WAVERLEY now that NaNoWriMo is no longer here to push me onward.
It helps that I’m pretty certain I’ll be able to get back into the momentum of it all once I’ve read it through and the things that have faded become bright and shiny for me again. To write my stories, I need to be in the world I’ve created; a hiatus only works to pull me further away.
I think this is what King was talking about when he said don’t stop the momentum of that first draft. Get your story down as quickly as you can. And now I’m adding, for myself: and if by chance you do stop the momentum, get your momentum back by reading what you’ve got, get yourself back into your story again, and then … don’t stop the momentum.
And as for NANTUCKET – it’s been sitting on my shelf for three months now. It’s also ripe for it’s first readthrough. I know it’s my practice novel, but I’m feeling very curious about how it will read after airing out for this long.
The thought of reading what I’ve written so far of WAVERLEY and my first draft of NANTUCKET is very exciting …!