As you might have noticed, I’ve been racking up the word count lately. This is unusual, because normally my output is about 200-300 words per day. Part of it is a self-imposed deadline, but part is a sort of frenetic energy that I’m expressing in words. When I wrote Gordath Wood, there were times when eking out 20 to 30 words was impossibly hard, but there were also stretches of 1,000 even up to 5,000 word days.
If there is a downside to writing fast and hard it’s that the wordage is a lot less polished and so editing takes longer. I can tell that this is going to be a rough draft all right. But the key here is that I have time. I don’t need to hurry on the editing. I don’t intend to turn this manuscript in to my agent until I am fully satisfied with it.
This was a tough lesson to learn; I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say I will never turn around a manuscript faster than I’m comfortable with again.
The upside to writing fast is the energy feeds on itself. When the words flow that easily and you give yourself permission not to edit as you go, there’s a sort of hysteria that becomes very addictive. I call it writing with my eyes closed. I just lock away the internal editor who wants to second-guess every word and every plot turn, and just let it flow. The exciting part is to see what gems come tumbling out of the utter verbiage. This must be what NaNoWriMo is about (I’ve never done it since I find the whole thing gimmicky, but I hear it works for people and if it works for you, hey don’t knock it).
The key is to not inflict this untamed outflow on anyone else until it’s edited properly.
I like editing. Once the story or novel is finished, polishing it brings its own set of frustrations and joys. I get into a kind of zen mode with editing, different from the joy of setting down the words and seeing where the story takes me. With editing I’m in control.
I’m enjoying writing the current project, seeing where it’s going and going along for the ride. When it’s time to switch gears, I’ll be ready for that too.