Life as a First Draft

The other day I managed to burn sausages while simultaneously  trying to hold a conversation with my boyfriend and sort out my work clothes for the next day.  He wasn’t impressed. ‘Then why don’t you cook?’ I snapped.

I’m still waiting for the answer to that one.

My multi-tasking skills are failing more and more regularly as I try to squeeze the things that I want to do in between the things that I have to do. Add a pile of the things that everybody else expects me to do and I can be close to screaming by the end of the week.

Now held in the icy grip of National Novel Writing Month I’m living on my nerve endings while I bash out a first draft. I want to get it done as quickly as possible because I need to know if the story works. Actually, it’s more that I need to know if I work.  Completing a first draft is self validation that all the post it notes and coloured ink I have poured into the outline stage isn’t wasted.

Each day I live is more or less the same.  I get up and rush through everything, normally wishing that I was doing something else. I’m invariably tense and planning the next thing that I need to do before the first one is finished.  It’s stressful and usually leaves me run down and gasping for more time.

In Nail Your Novel, Roz Morris describes a first draft as something to take your time over because it’s the space where you are writing just for you alone and letting your imagination run without restrictions. It’s something to savour while you get to know your characters and your setting.

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This was a whole new idea to me.  The thought that a first draft was a magical thing to be enjoyed rather than something to suffer through when faced with a deadline gave me something to experiment with.  This and it being practically January (come on, it’s closer than you think) with posts about New Year’s resolutions on the breeze combined to make me realise that living my life like it was NaNo wasn’t the most productive thing to do long term.

We only get one draft at life after all and therefore it seems crazy to tuck down our heads and barge forward without taking time to see the wider scheme of things and just enjoy the tiny bits that sparkle.  After all, in a first draft  you aren’t supposed to go back and change things and in life you don’t even get the choice.

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Taking time out to kick Autumn leaves

One thing that I’ve found really useful in slowing down is to get the train into work occasionally.  It makes the commute take longer but it makes me less irate and gives me longer to think, read, plan my next outline…

If you feel like you need to slow down and enjoy the scenery more have a look at this post and this one  for info on why we are all so busy, and how to stop it.  Do you have any top tips for appreciating the moment? Or can you not stop yourself rushing ahead as well?

 

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NaNo Prep – or three good reasons for a cup of tea.

Two and a half weeks to go. Is anyone else excited?

Just me?

In celebration here’re my three hints for NaNo prep.

  1. If you’re in the planning camp it’s worth thinking about a title and synopsis so that you can update your novel info, and for covers or banners to accompany your profile post. It’s always really interesting to know what other people are writing about and it also makes you more accessible to people who come along and check your profile out.  It’s not essential of course, but writing titles and synopsis are good practice – If nothing else they help you establish exactly what the core of your book is and help you to focus on what you want to write. However if you’re in the winging it cup put your feet up and have a cup of tea.

2. Depending on how you work now is also a good time to clear your writing diary. Make sure any current projects can be left alone to simmer while you work on NaNo. Paranoid freak that I am, my blog posts are drafted for November already.  However, if you’re an expert juggler have a cuppa and my eternal respect.

3.The forums are packed right about now. If you’re after mentors or writing buddies you’ll be inundated. Also check out your local forum for write ins. As insular and crazy as NaNo is there’s also chance for networking and there may be someone out there you’ll still want to talk to in December. However, if you see yourself more as a lone wolf of the literary world then it’s cup of tea time again.

Blogging for beginners

The first article I read on writers blogging was in Mslexia magazine (link) back in 2007, I think. Since then I’ve updated myself on what to do and what not to do. One of the fundamental keys is to have something to sell. Now that I’m actually here staring out into the eerily silent void of cyber space I’m realising that I’m still not quite sure what that is.  It’s not quite me, and it’s not quite my writing either as I have yet to sufficiently revise a book until my eyes are bleeding and my fingerprints worn off, and feel like, ‘Yes, this is the baby that I’m going to query agents with.’

I like to live in hope though that one day I will.  And if that happens I’ll be well practised at this author platform malarkey and won’t find using technology a task set somewhere between frustration and terror.

In the meantime, if I’m not preaching to the converted,  I found these articles quite insightful as a starting point.

Pub (lishing) Crawl – a single post for the established author but good ideas

The Creative Penn – you have to sign up but good resource for the Indie Author.