This week I decided to say, “Screw it!” to finishing my first draft. I compiled what I had and converted it to an eBook format for my Kindle, and for the past week, I’ve been reading it and making notes on what needs to be fixed.
And oh, boy, is there A LOT that needs to be fixed.
The entire beginning needs to be completely rewritten. (And no, this isn’t that creative self-doubt of I’m a horrible writer, no one’s going to like my book! I’m actually quite impressed with my writing on a syntax level. I’m a better writer than I realized, and although the draft needs a lot of revisions, it’s actually pretty good and easy to read. It’s just boring as fuck.)
Structurally, though… Yikes.
I know that I’m a hardcore planner when it comes to plotting. (Well, actually, I’m starting to realize that I’m a bit more of a roadmap destinations kind of plotter, but that’s for another post.)
What I’m also learning about myself through reading my first draft is that I’m a hardcore discovery writer when it comes to worldbuilding. My first few chapters are filled with info dumping even though I know that info dumping is a horrible, terrible, no good idea for writing a good story. However, I gave myself complete permission to suck and write whatever I wanted for this first draft.
It turns out, I need to info dump in order to write my way into the world. I can sit there and brainstorm all the cool worldbuilding for days (and years), but it doesn’t matter until I get into the scene and the characters and figure out what they need to know about the world, what matters to them.
So I have a lot of work to do in order to make this draft readable, but for the first time since the end of NaNoWriMo, I actually feel energized about my novel.
As I’ve been struggling with burnout, I’ve also been struggling with finishing the first draft, and it’s been so frustrating. I’ve never been this far in writing a book before. It’s terribly exciting and terribly scary because it’s completely new territory. I’ve done a lot of work in figuring out my drafting style; now it’s time to figure out my revisions style.
That’s why I stopped wrestling with myself in writing the few remaining scenes and just exported it to my Kindle exactly as it was. I had an epiphany last week as I was writing my weekly blog post. I realized that my revision style isn’t to actually finish a draft completely before moving onto revisions.
When I’m writing a blog post, I crank out the bulk of the post really quickly. Then, when I get to the end, I slow down. I lose my way. I forget the point of the post and start rambling. So I go back, read the entire thing over again, making changes as I go, and then work on the conclusion.
If that’s what I need to do on short form blog posts, then it’s likely what I need to do on a long form novel.
So for now, I’m reading my novel on my kindle and utilizing the notes feature to mark what’s awesome, what’s boring, and what’s confusing. The added benefit is that I can only read and make notes. I can’t actually change things as I go.
I’m about 15% through with reading the draft, and I’d like to be halfway through by the end of the week. I’ll keep you updated with how it goes.