March 6, 2012

another one for the books

Crazy-eyed and excited at 2 a.m. Sunday. First draft done.
I have been a little MIA on the blogosphere, Twitter and Facebook, but for good reason. Early Sunday morning — try 2 a.m. — I finished the first draft of my second novel. *Cue the applause.*

Now that one portion of this process is done, I figured it was a good time to make reflections on the project so far.

•  It's still exciting to reach the end. I hope I am never too much of a writing veteran to not enjoy the thrill that comes from completing a draft. I'll admit, I was much more emotional when I finished my first book, but I had more to prove to myself. Or maybe I know more about the process this time and realize how much work I have ahead of me, which brings me to my next point…

•  This is just the beginning. This time around, I realize a first draft is the beginning of another adventure: revisions, critiques, more revisions, queries, revisions and on.

•  Experience helps. This draft is shorter and took more time than the book I wrote last year. While this fact initially worried me, now that I'm going through and revising the book, I realize the extra time was worth it. This book is much better than the first one I wrote (which still sits in a drawer needing major work). It is more focused, has better characters and is written better. I was more confident and willing to cut out large sections of text or scenes when I realized they didn't work. I threw out the beginning and started the story later to make it more exciting. I flipped chapters around for better flow, and so on. It still needs work, but not as much as my inaugural book. While it might seem like more time and less results, it's not. I was just more efficient.

On one particular evening I used candy,
popcorn, pizza and an energy drink as
bribes to keep writing.
•  Momentum is everything. I hardly worked on this book in December and January. In late February, I decided I needed to get my act together, and wallah — the final third of the book came together quickly. I realize now why it is so important to keep working at it every day and not let the gaps in writing stretch out too long.

•  Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. It's good to have a plan, but know it can change. From the plot to work schedules, I had to constantly change my agenda to accommodate the project until it worked.

•  Bribery works. Giving myself prizes as a reward for work well done works for me. It could be as simple as, "Laura gets candy after writing 1,000 words," or more major like, "Hit this milestone, and Laura gets to go out to a movie." Pavlov was on to something when he researched rewards and punishments, because this worked out well for me.

And with those few thoughts, it's time for me to get back to these revisions. I will continue to give updates throughout the next few weeks, but I'm definitely in project mode now, so they could be more sporadic.

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