Friday, February 01, 2013

Work-In-Progress: January

The Goal: Finish a complete first draft of a novel by the end of 2013. 

January Progress: Well, it's a start. 

Here's the thing about writing without any kind of outline or earthly idea of what will happen next: halfway through the draft, you get a better idea, and you have to go back and delete a lot of pages. Better ideas are good - they lead to better writing, which leads to better books - but oh, is there any key more cruel than delete? (Or, let's be serious, cut and paste. I don't throw anything away, and have a very long document titled "outtakes" in case I want those missing scenes back.) 

What happened was this: by mid January I had 81 pages of my first draft. I have to hand in 100 pages to workshop on February 5th, so I was making excellent time. Later that week, I decided that alternating between two characters' points-of-view wasn't working, and that I should focus on the character I liked better. So I did some cutting, and some pasting, and some deleting, and then I had about 56 pages with a fair number of holes. Oh, and that February 5th deadline was still looming. So, I wrote. I wrote some more. I tried not to delete things. And then I wrote some more. Today, I have about 85 pages, and I'll probably be able to write a few more before Tuesday. If not, I think 85 is close enough to 100, especially considering all the thousands of words that are sitting in my outtakes file. Such is life. 

Obviously, I hope to make more progress this month, especially after all the brilliant comments and suggestions that I will no doubt receive during workshop. My loose goal is 50 more pages by March - I have a busy month ahead, which includes weekly writing for my nonfiction workshop, the month long visiting writer workshop, and my student workshops (19 of them in two weeks - help!). Oh, and a four day trip to New York for a wedding. 50 pages will pretty much be a miracle. 

Things that have helped my productivity: writing 1,000 words a day, at least four days a week (sometimes more, sometimes less). Waking up really early and getting them done before the sun comes up. Having a deadline and knowing it's pretty much my only chance for feedback until next semester. Writing about bees, which are exciting and interesting and serve as a perfect metaphor (thank you, bees). 

How are your 2013 goals going? Good, I hope. And if not, never fear - we have eleven more months to get it all done. This is only the beginning. Onward and upward!