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10 November 2009 @ 11:13 am
All hail the Sucky First Draft  
Word count: 2188 | Since last entry: 2188

After far too many weeks of research, noodling, and outlining, none of which seemed to be going anywhere, I decided to adopt a new strategy: just start writing. I'm driving cross-country in the dark with no map, no destination, and no visibility beyond the reach of my headlights. It feels weird and I can see plenty of problems in what I've written so far, which I know will have to be heavily edited when I'm done, but at least I'm putting down words and it feels good.

This is an unusual writing strategy for me, but for the moment it seems to be working. This book is not like anything else I've written because I'm already familiar with (a version of) the characters and setting and because it's structured as a collection of related short stories. I was beating myself up about the linking überplot and character arc that ties them all together, but I've given up on that for now. I'm just writing one story about these characters (not even necessarily the first story in the book), and when I'm done with that one I'll write another, and after I've written a few I bet I'll understand what bigger things are happening and I'll be able to put the stories I have into the correct order and insert the necessary bits to expose to the reader the überplot that, in some subconscious way, was there all along.

I'm putting a lot of trust in my subconscious here. This is kind of the opposite progression from what jaylake did with his New Model Process a year or two ago, but then his process and mine started off very different and I'm sure we have different lessons to learn.

Alas, the writing isn't going any faster this way -- still about 500 words a day -- but at least I'm moving.

coreoliscuriositist on November 10th, 2009 07:37 pm (UTC)
Stepping out on an uncertain journey sometimes teaches better than a road we've got mapped out... but it's certainly not without its perils, pitfalls and anxiety. Go you!
e_bournee_bourne on November 10th, 2009 07:59 pm (UTC)
I reccommend lots of showers, long walks, and finding the music that sets the character's themes for you and listening to it often. When you get stuck, relax, and do the above. That's what I do and it works, slowly sometimes, but it works. And don't be afraid to put it aside and let your subconscious work on it for a week or two while you write a short story. Stopping is not quitting. Your subconscous may need time to puzzle things out. And love the bad writing! Be sloppy! It doesn't matter right now. No one is Jay Lake but Jay Lake.

I love sucking. It's very freeing.
Jay Lakejaylake on November 10th, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC)
Moving, learning, growing, and most of all, writing. Good for you.
Jae Leslie, aka MaryRead the Pirate Queenmaryread on November 10th, 2009 11:31 pm (UTC)
Not coincidentally, this is also Anne Lamott's first rule: Shitty First Drafts (in Bird by Bird) (which is another rule actually, for a whole ornithology you still just take it one bird at a time).
Azahruazahru on November 11th, 2009 12:00 am (UTC)
Awesome :-) Hopefully I'll stumble into something new for Lucky Labradors the same way :-)
kathrynmicekathrynmice on November 11th, 2009 04:02 am (UTC)
Wow . . .
If I was in Portland, or wherever in the world you are at the moment, I would give you a big hug.

Enjoy this, its fun. You are letting the characters off the tether and they are going to end up surprising you.