Writing With The Door Slightly Ajar

While writing the first draft of the book which eventually grew up to be HOLD ME (the book being published soon – in case you didn’t know), I gave a few friends each individual chapter as soon as I was finished writing it.  I discovered about half-way through the process that this, for me anyway, was a bit of a mistake.

See, I didn’t feel like I had any freedom while I was writing the first draft.  I didn’t feel like I had the opportunity to change my mind. I had set up certain expectations and felt obligated to follow through for the sake of the readers, even if the vision developing in my head had changed. Then, when my friends made well-meaning, and even very good, suggestions, I felt like I had to respond to them immediately.  The net result was that I ended up concentrating on details and losing the bigger picture.  This is not where you need to be in the first draft of a book.

Sometime after that, I read ON WRITING by Stephen King and realized I had been trying to, as he put it, “write with the door open”.  So, when I decided to bust apart the draft I’d written and completely rework it, I kept the door gently, but firmly closed.  I didn’t even tell people I WAS writing.

And I found that the problem writing with the door closed is that you don’t have anybody to motivate you.  You don’t have anybody to cheer you on, or make you feel like you really need to keep writing, to hold you accountable.  After all, the only person who knows what you are doing is you.

Thus with this latest WIP, I decided to leave the door slightly ajar.  You all know that I AM writing, but I decided that I would only give you basic word count progress reports until the book is in the final revision stages.  I had hoped this would give me both the freedom and the motivation I need.  Hence the self-challenge I’ve been blathering on about for the last couple of weeks.

It turns out that this approach too, has its bad points and good points.

Bad points – I feel pressure to produce word count so you will judge me favorably because I’ve written the appropriate number of words in the appropriate number of days.  The problem is, I’m not sure what I’ve written is any good.  I haven’t had the time to evaluate where I am or how I got there.

Good points – Even though I haven’t met my goal to write every day, I’m much further along with my WIP than I thought I’d be.  Because I’m not revising as I go, I’m moving steadily forward, instead of lurching ahead in stops and starts.  This feels a little uncomfortable, but if I want to be a productive writer it is a skill I think I’ll need to develop.

The verdict – So far the good points outweigh the bad.  Hopefully I won’t get to the end of the first draft and realize everything I’ve written is poo.  But if I can get to the end of the first draft in 6 weeks, that will be an accomplishment all by itself.

Upshot – The door stays slightly ajar for now.

Week 3 stats (because I didn’t post them earlier) –
Write every day – No.  I didn’t write on Sunday 5/15 or Saturday 5/21.  Weekends are hard for me.
1000 words per day – my average was about 857 wpd
Finish WIP before end of June – my final word count was 28,926 – that’s about halfway to my total expected final word count of 60,000, so that’s good.

So far Week 4 sucks – I might have to think of something else to post on Sunday  🙂

Better get running!

 

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