2,273 Words

  • Sprints: 10
  • Words Sprinted: 2,263
  • Average: 226
By Dustin Tigner

Disclaimer: Welcome to my spoiler-free journal. This is where I record my thoughts and feelings as they pertain to what the hell I just wrote. I may explore writing craft, productivity techniques, bemoan running out of my favorite snack, or anything else. You've been warned!

Limping over the finish line.

I’m on the very last chapter, and—in all honesty—I don’t love what I’ve got. I’ve pushed through this feeling a dozen times since I started upping my productivity, and it’s hard. Things need to change.

Dirty First Draft

I’ve written about this before, but a dirty first draft is where you write down the bones of the story and fix it all in subsequent drafts.

Most writing communities, podcasts, and craft books push this method.

They will say, “You can’t know what the story needs until you finish it.” Or, “Why polish something that’s just going to be changed or removed?” Or, “All first drafts are crap.” Or they bring up that new author who could never get past the first chapter because they always edited it.

Clean First Draft

A clean first draft—or no-draft—process is where you write the story as it’s meant to be read, editing as you go. This is often done in cycles. You write a few hundred words, read over them, touch them up, then write a few hundred more.

The vomit drafters hate this because “writing is rewriting.”

But cycling is rewriting. It’s just done in the moment and not after the fact.

My Thoughts?

Alright, Challenger Sarah’s novel is 120k words. I wrote the first 60k words without an outline and in a single draft (writing and editing as I went). I love the first 60k words and don’t love the last 60k words.

Now that I’m nearing the end of my first draft, I’m honestly not sure the story went in the direction it needed to. Had I taken the time and course-corrected in the moment, things may have worked out differently. I don’t know.

What I do know is, in my last two books, when I got to this point in the project, I’d be 95% done. Give it another week to do a typo/polish edit, and the book would be ready to publish.

But not this time.

This time, I have lots of boring, hard work to do.

So Why the Change?

My progress became excruciatingly slow.

Most days, I barely crossed 1,000 new words. I fell into the trap of cycling too often. I also had no idea where the story was going, choosing to enjoy each scene instead. This ensured the moment-to-moment story was enjoyable, but the overall story—in relation to the Arachnomancer story—didn’t make sense.

I’m still experimenting with my process, but I think I’d like to return to a clean first draft. These last 60k words are kind of a mess. It’s going to be a pain getting them to work, which will also take a lot of time.

New Process?

I enjoy writing sprints. They allow me to set the timer and write what comes next. But I can’t wait until the end of the book to edit. My continual enjoyment of the story is important. How can I listen to my intuition if I spew forth crap?

My intuition is constantly saying, “This isn’t good enough; this isn’t right; this needs a few changes for these very specific reasons, reasons you know right now and will certainly forget when you return and read a vague note on what needs to change.”

So I will continue with writing sprints but alternate with timed writing and slow editing to get the story, characters, and prose to work. This way, when my intuition says something needs some work, I can fix it then and there and feel good about what I’ve written.

I also like the idea of having a rough outline for each story. It doesn’t need to be detailed, but it should have the major ideas worked out in advance. This outline needs to be flexible and evolve as I uncover hidden elements of the story I couldn’t have known before.

And lastly, I definitely need to invest time in the worldbuilding before I get to the end of the third book in the series. I’ve run into a lot of walls with Arachnomancer because of this. Worldbuilding is the easiest way to add a wow factor to your story. I’ll invest more time here before my next series.

Unfortunately, none of this helps me with Sarah’s novel. I’ll work to finish the first draft tomorrow or Friday, then see how the second draft goes.

See you tomorrow. :)