One Very Successful Week

Written By: Jess - Jul• 26•15

Two Weeks Ago

I took off a week of work to focus on getting edits done on the first draft of my MS. In the back of my mind leading up to it I was afraid I’d get little done, because, well, I’d been struggling with churning out faster edits. The long, boring explanation is I stopped trying to be productive in my office and set up shop down stairs on our little used comfy couch. And it worked! Granted, I was usually busy during the day, but at night I’d put in 7-8 hours or so of edits/rewrites. I didn’t get as far as I wanted to, but I still knocked out all but one scene in the second part of the second act. Yay! The last fourth of the book isn’t being gutted like middle was, so good news there.

In all, I’m hoping I can finish this monster by the end of next month. I HAVE to get it done by the end of next month. The idea of thing not being finished by the time a baby gets here is maddening. I’ve spent close to three years on this sucker and I’m not giving it more than that. Granted, it probably would be done by now if I hadn’t had another project interrupt it for three months.

My Progress

Where I’m at with my first book baby:

  1. Pre-writing – plotting, character bios (WAY over did this and ended up throwing out half of what I came up with), world building, ect.
  2. First Draft – the ugly, hideous monstrosity of what might be considered a book. It’s broken, but complete.
  3. Second Draft – the gutting stage. Taking out everything that I can see that doesn’t work. (In this case half the manuscript and rewriting it).  Major rewrites/revisions.
  4. Third Draft – Clean up stage. (I’ve sort of been doing this the same time as the second draft.) Have my wonderful critique partners go over it and point out what they see wrong or confusing. Basically other people spot what I’m blind to.
  5. Fourth Draft – Beta reads? I’m not sure. After the third draft I start to get muddled about where exactly I’m at in getting this thing submission worthy. Hopefully my wonderful writing friends (and anyone else) who looked at the first bit of the book won’t mind taking a look at the rest. If you’re interested, let me know. I’ll most likely need you after September.
  6. Fifth Draft – Cleaning up on a micro level. Going through and changing words, looking for repetitions, grammar (I might need help with this too), looking at dialogue, ect. This should be the fastest draft for me if my novelette is any indication.

First draft took about a year to do, while the second draft is taking almost as long. I say I’ve been working on this thing for nearly 3 because I’m including the ridiculous amount of planning I put in. Lesson learned. Don’t take forever on that part.

Things I’ve Learned (AKA – What I did Wrong)

1.) I’m okay if this one doesn’t get published. I know everyone says your first book is rarely picked up for publication (actually, I’ve heard your 5th is usually the one), but accepting this fact is a lot harder in practice. And a couple of months ago I truly became okay with that. I’m still going to try, but if it never sees the light of day it will hurt, but I’ll be okay. I have another book baby brewing that I think has a better shot. I might have to write another post on why I think this later (it all boils down to marketability and research).

2.) Don’t over pre-write! For me, I over did it. I did way too many major character bios, did a ton of backstory, and planned out every scene I thought my book should have. I probably would have been good doing half of all those. The backstory might be the only exception. I still feel okay overdoing that. It gave me a better foundation. But the plotting and character sketches were a more in depth for what I needed and half ended up being thrown out anyway.

Learning this has helped me more in planning other stories. So, good?

3.) Try writing in different places. This made a world of a difference for me. I learned last year that writing retreats are fantastic. So is any place outside the home with free Wi-Fi, late hours, and decent seating. Also learning to write in different places in your house can help too. If one place isn’t working for me, I learned I need to stop being lazy and try switching it up. My office computer has dual monitors, so I easily get distracted there. It’s perfect for editing, but when it comes to rewrites or writing something new I tend to turn on YouTube or read some article that has nothing to do with writing. My laptop is much more limiting, therefore I get more work done. Hard lesson learned.

4.) Don’t panic and hire an editor too soon. I did this a couple months ago for a partial because I thought I’d be submitting sooner. Now I look back and regret it because I know I’m most likely going to be changing things. Ugh. Don’t hurry unless your rich and don’t mind dropping $200+ on each edit.  We’ll see if I need to hire again, but hopefully that’s not the case (I’m hoping the changes I make won’t be that major).

I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting, but this post is long enough already. How’s everyone else? For writers out there, what works for you?

 

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