Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Leave Our Pieces On the Ground

Now, I've been feeling like a slacker lately, because I haven’t been writing every day. And not writing every day must mean I'm falling behind. Of course that's ridiculous, as you can see from my handy chart.

Whoo! Charts!

I am above the goal word count for each day, so I'm fine. That's the advantage to only have a goal of 10,000. 334 words per day is much easier that 1,667.

It's important, at this stage, not to get discouraged. There's a point in every story where I start to think I'm falling behind, and my word goal is unattainable. I start to realize that the plot doesn't make any sense, and my characters are irrational and flat.

We're at that point now, but it's okay. It's a first draft. It's not going to be perfect. It's going to have problems. The whole point of the first draft is to get all the ideas out where you can see them.

It's like a jigsaw puzzle. You don't try to pull pieces from the box and lay them out in order, left to right, top to bottom. You lay them all out, stick them together in little groups, try to get things that go together in one place. And then you move around those chunks until they all fit together and form a complete picture. Sometime pieces don't go where you thought they should. Sometimes what you thought for sure was a piece of sky was actually part of a boat. But you lay all the pieces out, and you can figure out what goes where, even if you didn't know what the picture was supposed to be when you started.

That's how first drafts work. And hey, maybe you start with a detailed outline and you know exactly how it all goes together. And that's cool. I'd argue that the outline was the first draft, where you figured it all out. I'm just not that good at planning ahead. So I throw all my words on the page, and then I step back to see what I have.

Sometimes, while I'm writing, I'll realize that I've made some critical error, and it all would have gone better if I'd taken a left turn at Albuquerque. So I make a note to fix it, and I move on. A lot of the time I'll say, "Let's imagine this other thing had happened back there," and just carry on with this new reality. I'll fix the earlier part later. The idea is to just keep moving forward, and not look back until the month is over. You can't stop to dwell on your mistakes before you're done making them.

And I'll end on that, because it makes me sound deep. I'll see you Friday.

Title Source: Rob Thomas - Pieces

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