I learned a valuable lesson this week - and it's all thanks to Chuck Wendig (whose latest novel, Under The Empryean Sky is out now. Of course I'm going to inform you of that - and not just because I'm grateful, but because I also happen to think it's a ruddy marvellous book, so there.)
As you may have noticed in my previous posts, I have whinged about this Draft Two of my novel-in-progress The Renegades taking much longer and seeming to be much harder than Draft One... ooh, maybe several gazillion times. Anyone still in possession of their World's Smallest Violin has probably long given up on the idea of just playing it at me and moved on to fantasies of smashing it over my whiny little head.
*Shrugs.* Sorr-ee. I'll stop now.
No seriously, I will. I'm sure it was annoying - and now that I've made this amazing little leap I shouldn't need to do it anymore. Much. No - at all, honest! Because now I see why my Draft Two was causing me so much angst - and how changing my attitude to it, even in these last couple of days, has helped me get my Renegades mojo back again.
It started when I wrote my previous post about NaNoWriMo. I believe there was this little statement I made along the lines of 600 words a day being a really productive writing sesh for me, yeah? Well, I'm doing my embarrassed face right now as I admit that was a massive lie.
I get two hours of 'writing time' a day in my life, so I doubt I'm ever gonna be one of those writers who can churn out two novels a year - but there was a time when 600 words a day would've been a piece of cake for me. (Mmmm.... cake...) But I haven't been writing anywhere near 600 words a day for... urrgh, at least a month now. I've been squeaking 300, maybe 400 at very best - and even then, only with the aid of PURELY MEDICINAL chocolate supplements. Fun and tasty as that is, I'm not sure chomping my way to Type II Diabetes is a great strategy for raising this novel into a functional, publishable grown-up, so I knew I needed to fix my shizzle. But how?
And then I read Chuck Wendig's blog, where he stated that it took him five years to write his first novel, 'Blackbirds.' Well, heck - if a real, properly famous and successful author is allowed to take five years to write his baby, then surely that means a little ol' 'who?' like me can take that long as well! I'm only on Month 20 since the entire Renegades Process began, so I'm kind of on schedule, if you look at it that way...
Then another thing occurred to me. If he really spent five years on it, then it can't have just been on Draft One, Draft Two and then a final spit and polish for grammar and typos. In other words, he probably had more than just a couple of gos at getting the story part right, before he even got as far as moving on to the technical bits.
And that's why I was struggling so much with my Draft Two!
All this time, I'd been thinking of Draft Two as my final chance to get the story right. After this, all subsequent edits would be purely for trimming and polishing the language and sorting out inconsistencies and the aforementioned grammar and typo bombs. Which meant I was putting my Editor Hat on - and an awful lot of pressure on myself - every time I sat down to work; "This aint no disco - this is Draft Two, Cupcake! (Mmmm... cupcake...) So every word you hammer out had better be freakin' good, if you don't want to prove to the whole world that you're not a good a writer as you like to think you are..!"
I'd lost that mindset of "just write - you can go back and fix it later" and gone headlong into "this has to be right now!" But the truth is, I'm still putting the story together in many areas; now I know all of it, I've realised there are bits in Draft One that don't need to be there, and important stuff missing that definitely does. I can't expect to fix all of that and have it all flow perfectly, first time, as well. So I'm going to need to do a Draft Three for that. And maybe a Draft Four... and Five...
And if I do...*fanfare*... IT DOESN'T MATTER!
It sounds so simple when it's written down, in actual words. But it's taken me a while to see it. So, if there needs to be a Draft Three, and Four, and Eleventy-One... so be it. No-one dies if I cock it up on Draft Two; I just get another go at putting it right. Which feels... kind of good, actually. Yeah.
So if you'll excuse me - I got some more Draft two to write. It'll probably be crappy, but I'm down with that now...