I quite enjoy reading the writing process of other people. So today, I thought I'd give you a glimpse inside my head. Hold on tight, cuz it's sort of a wild ride.
I relate writing my first draft to vomiting. I know, I hope you haven't recently eaten or taken a drink of something.
For me, it's just word vomit. I don't outline. I don't have whiteboards with post-it's. There are no snowflakes going on at my house.
I'm pantsing my way through life. (Hey! I could totally change the words to the Wicked song. "Pantsing through life...")
In my defense, I usually think about my story/characters for a little while, but I have no character sheets done, no pictures in my head, sometimes not even names.
Some of you are spasming right now, I can tell. Sorry. If you're looking for "organization while writing" you won't find it here.
I decide that hey, it's time to do this thing and I sit down at the computer. I open a new Word document, and feel this tiny tremor of terror at the blank page. See, I'm not so good with blank pages.
I am a better rewriter than writer. But I can't rewrite what I don't have.
So I flex my fingers--no, really, I do--and I start typing.
And word vomit comes out.
At the end of my writing session, I type notes for what might come next. Usually my notes are longer than what I've got on the story. I do organize the notes into chapters and scenes, so that when I come back the next day to write, I'm ready.
My notes change constantly. I'm always deleting old ones and typing new ones, because my story evolves so much as I write. So, so much.
At about 10,000 words, I usually hit a wall I have to navigate around. Or over. Or through. Whatever. At about 20,000 words, I take a break and write the query letter and a loose synopsis. This helps focus my writing on the end goal. At this time, I identify the two "pinches" in my story, and align them with the end of part one and the end of part two. See, I write in sections--usually 3. So I position my "pinches" to come at the end of those sections to keep the reader moving along.
Once I have that, I'm ready to write again. Nothing is set in stone, and my pinches change, the notes change, the story changes as I actually sit down and vomit up the words.
I can usually pound out a 75,000-word first draft in 6-8 weeks. (Side note: I just wrote 37,000 words before I realized I couldn't use any of them. So I abandoned the project and have started it over. No, really. This is the writing-life of a pantser. Or maybe just me...Crap!) And it's so, so, so messy that I can't stand to open it again for a while. I mean, the stench alone keeps me away. So I usually re-visit my query and synopsis and shine them up.
Then I get to rewrite. But that's a story for another post.
What about you? How do you write your first draft? Are you an outliner or a pantser? What works for you? What doesn't? How long does it take?