Before I dive in, let me give you some backstory.
At the beginning of August I decided it was time to move on from my current project and focus on writing something new. Usually I dive into my ideas folder and find the one that speaks to me the most. By speaking to me the most, I mean, I spend the next few days daydreaming about it and bits of plot and character fall into place. I sat down the next week and wrote out all the dot points and filled in all the sheets–if you’re interested, all of this process is detailed in my older blog posts starting HERE.
Then, once I’d let the dust settle and I was feeling pretty good about my overall story, I started Draft Zero. Now, my expectations for the dreaded Draft Zero are always super low. So I set out to get at least 50,000 words done (I work this out using past WIP’s). I’m one of those writers that layers my drafts, much like the amazing Susan Dennard. Draft Zero is always abysmal and then the descriptions are added, and then the characters are fleshed out and twists are layered in and so on…
Things started off great. I wrote a few paragraphs here and there, but nothing was really flowing.
I turned to Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k in a day. A fantastic book about planning and building yourself the perfect environment to get all the words down. Here is my handy reference I wrote after reading the book for the 3rd time.
That weekend I smashed out the first 10,000 words in 3 days. Not exactly 10k in a day, but much better than I’d managed so far with this draft. After that weekend things slowed right down again. I was back to my normal pace of 1,500-2,000 words a day. I told myself I was content with puttering along for the next month at this pace, but in reality, I wasn’t.
Then, in a fantastic coincidence of timing, my unofficial mentor messaged me with all these magnificent ideas on how to improve my other manuscripts (the one I stopped in August). There was a lot of work coming and I was knees deep into my WIP at 20,000 words. This wasn’t going to work. I had to get this draft done in a record amount of time so I could focus completely on the work my mentor was suggesting. Excited and scared doesn’t even cover what I was feeling. After a minor panic attack (anxiety sucks you guys) I challenged myself to get the final 30,000 words done over a weekend.
Yep. A weekend.
Here is what my calendar looked like heading in…
As you can see, I was plodding along at one chapter a day and then BAM! I had to get 3-5 done each day for the rest of the weekend. This was going to be either incredibly hard and sad, or EPIC. And I was ready.
Thursday the 7th of September
What I wanted to get done = 5 chapters!
Final word count for the day: 7,012
I was seriously burnt out after this stint. I woke up at 3:30am to get as much done as possible before my day job, then I spent my hour lunch time and another hour when I got home at 5:30pm writing. By 6:30pm I was done. My brain was frazzled and my fingers wouldn’t move properly. My previous words per day record was 5,000 on a weekend (all day to play), so I smashed it by an extra 2,000 AND went to the day job.
During writing, I realised 3 of my chapters needed to be melded with others, and that I was going to have some fairly substantial holes to fix in later drafts. But that’s okay! Draft Zero is all about getting the words down so I have something to play with when the dust settles. Think of Draft Zero as the bones of a skeleton. First draft will be the nerves and veins. Second draft will be muscle and sinew. And hopefully, then Draft four will be all about the skin, or my sentence structure and little edits.
On the 8th of September I got my edit letter for my other MS. As soon as I read it I knew I’d have to put this one on hold so I could sort through everything.
So, in conclusion, I started with a huge goal for myself, and for the first day I smashed it! I’m proud of myself, and now that I know I can get 7,000 words done in a day, I can push myself to get my normal 2,000 words done with minimal effort.
Later on this year, or early next year, after I finish my re-writing, I’ll be coming back to this draft and I will continue with my high word count goals. And I’ll post it all here, for you to see.
Until then, I’m off to my writing cave. After all, writing is re-writing is re-writing…