This post is short, but I wanted to share my current process for fast drafting my newest manuscript.
Before I started working on this manuscript ‘officially’, I spent about a month brainstorming various ideas for the plot and setting. I didn’t create a strict outline, but I did spend a lot of time thinking about what I would like to see happen in the novel, and I came up with a handful of specific turning points and events.
Once I felt confident enough about the general direction of the story, I started working on the zero draft.
To make this process as fun and as relaxed as possible, I’ve set a minimum goal of 25-minutes a day and a maximum goal of 50-minutes.
Rather than working from an outline, I’m writing intuitively towards the few significant events that I came up with, but I’m also holding myself to the possibility that new and better ideas might emerge as I continue to write the manuscript.
By opting to only write for a very small amount of time, it’s more likely that I will be able to do at least some creative writing every day, and this is particularly important because I’m not working with an outline. By writing every day, it is easier for me to keep a tab on what is happening in the story, and I am able to easily pick up from where I left off the previous day.
Before I finish each writing session, I take just a few minutes to write down what will happen next, or to brainstorm several options from which I can choose the following day.
This has made my ‘entry’ back into the story so much easier because I’m following the same thought thread and I don’t have to familiarise myself with what I wrote the previous day in order to figure out where I should be going next.
After I’ve finished my session for the day, I write a few sentences down in my process journal. I usually record the date, how many words I wrote, and any general reflections on how the writing felt that day.
The reason why I am doing this is so I can have a record of all the questions and uncertainties that come up during the drafting process.
I recently finished work on a manuscript I’ve been writing for three years and because books get easier as you get closer to finishing them, it is easy to trick myself into thinking that there is something ‘wrong’ with the new book. This thinking can look like, ‘My last book was so easy and this one is so hard!’
By looking back on my process journals for my last book, I know that is not the case. That book was every bit as difficult and riddled with uncertainty as this new project is.
I’ve also decided to take the pressure off while writing this first draft. Whenever a thought comes in like, ‘I don’t know where this is going, or what this story is even about’ I recommit to the story and choose to remain open to whatever emerges onto the page. This has largely made the writing so much more fun, and the work feels a lot more alive on the sentence level.
I don’t expect to write a perfect first draft, but I do expect to have fun while doing it.
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