A Writer’s Life: The Rush

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)

Still working to finish the draft of “A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.”  In this case, I’ve decided to try and finish it a month early – literally about a week from now.

Usually I did 15K words on it a month.  I’ve gotten to  nearly 29K (nearly 40K for the month).  Why did I decide to do this?

First, I realized that I was committed to what I had (which has problems), so it was best to push through and get it done.  It’d be better to finish up and edit something than to diddle around with plots and tweaks.

Secondly, I’d make discoveries as I wrote.  The more I wrote, the more I learned and thought and explored about my story.

Third, if I kept up the rush I kept in the “zone” of my story, had a better more subtle feel for it.  I think there’s an ideal pace for writing something, a minimum you need to write to stay in touch with your work.  My rate is higher than I thought.  It’s probably every other day at most.

The result is that, upon review, I’m probably going to rewrite a good 50% of the story.  It won’t be bad (I’d say it’s about 60% to 70% a good story), but it can be a lot better.  The thing is if I’d really pushed myself like I have now, just stayed in the zone, I’d have been done in October if not earlier.  Also, the benefits of the replottings and rewrites I had done earlier are ones I probably could have realized in a second draft.

In other words, remember my big halfway point edit?  I am questioning if it was necessary.

This is how my friend Serdar writes – he gets it out and then edits.  I’m starting to think he has a point – but hey, as always writing is an experiment.

So now the goal is to finish up the draft of “A Bridge To The Quiet Planet” and see where I am.  Then it’ll be multiple read-throughs and edits, about 4 months at my current estimate.  When you’re dealing with a road trip type story it’s one thing, but it’s eight characters going through weird stuff on a series of weird planets that are totally normal to them.  I’ll be reporting on that too.

What can you as a fellow writer learn?  Well . . .

  1. We all have our ideal writing pace – what works for us, our subject, and our methods.
  2. You don’t find that pace until you do it.
  3. That ideal pace should let you both create a coherent (if not good) work and keep you in touch with the work.
  4. You have to be open to learning.
  5. You’ll keep learning as you keep writing.

My takeaway lesson is that I overplanned and under-applied myself.  Not entirely surprising as I was enamored of trying various methodologies.  But in the end, it’s an experiment.

I learned something.

– Steve