Construction Zone: Writing Efficiently

I’ve made no secret of the fact that my goal is to be able to writeapproximately four novels a year when I finally get my particularwriting methods all worked out. Don’t look at me like I’m insane – manyauthors are already doing just that (or more). I’m convinced that if Ipay attention to how my brain “works” when faced with the differentaspects of writing, and then using that knowledge to create the mostefficient method of drafting, revising and line-editing a manuscript, Iwill be able to figure out the most efficient way (for me) of writingat that pace. Yes, I’m aware that I have a tendency to overthink…well, everything. In this case though, I’m pretty sure I canput my analytical nature to work in a very productive…and maybe evenlucrative way.

To that end, I’ve kind of created myown little experiment. One of my goals with Indelibly Inked, my serialnovel this time around is to post cleaner material – ie, not firstdraft. I’m okay with it still needing work, but I’m making a focusedeffort to edit each chapter as I write it (and when I have time, to goover it again before posting, though that hasn’t been happening). Ofcourse I also have my dedicated revisions for Her Private Chef goingon, and the first draft of Hearts on Trial. A little of everything,really.

I’m paying extremely close attention todetail with each serial chapter of Indelibly Inked (or trying to). WhenI say I’m editing as I go, it’s not just word choice and phrasing(line-edits), I’m also really working hard to make sure all the plotdetails – wardrobe, sets, transitions, character traits, etc – flowfrom one scene to the next without getting dropped, lost or bastardizedin some way. Because I’m horrible at noting those things, this entailsquite a lot of looking back through past scenes to remind myself whathappened where, and whether or not I mentioned something already or ifit’s yet to be addressed. It’s more work than just typing alongcarefree, but I find I’m enjoying it, even when I don’t anticipate theturn my readers choose for the next chapter.

I try*not* to do that with the HOT draft – though I catch myself wanting toall the time. I try to just start typing and go, not looking back atanything previously written. I rely on memory and the revisions I’ll dolater to “fix” whatever I screw up in the first draft. It’s somewhatquicker as far as getting the story down goes (though not lately), butfrustrating sometimes too when I *know* something goes in wrong andthat it will have to be fixed later because I can’t remember the“right” thing.

Then there are my revisions to HPC. Ipurposefully picked my best “bad” draft to date for learning to revisewith, figuring that if I could revise this particular draft, the nextones will be easier just because they aren’t as “broken”. Call memasochistic (at least I didn’t pick the worst one to learn on). Nowthat I’ve gotten over my apprehension, self-doubt and overall fear oflearning to revise, I’m finding that it takes about as long torevise/rewrite a scene in HPC as it does to carefully draft a chapter(scene, really) for Indelibly Inked. And my revisions to HPC are mainlyabout fixing mistakes that I’m simply not making as many of using themore detail-oriented draft method

Conclusions for my own personal writing style:

– Writing a carefully crafted first draft doesn’t take much more time than a sloppy one.

– Revisions would be considerably easier and faster if I wasn’t fixing so many “major” problems.

-It’s difficult to switch between editing mode and “fast drafting”mode…much easier to switch from editing mode to “careful drafting”mode.

– “Careful drafting” goes faster the more I doof it (and would probably go even fast if I made use of the notefeatures in yWriter to keep track of little details and plot threads). 

Sofor the next couple weeks, I’m going to try applying the “carefuldrafting” style to my HOT draft, and see how it goes. If I can get 500words per day done, that’s 3500 per week – doable I think with theconcurrent revisions to HPC (and twice the pace I wrote HPC at). 

Are you a fast drafter or a “careful” drafter? Have you analyzedyour writing style for efficiency? Or do you just write, and not worryabout how it happens?

2 comments on “Construction Zone: Writing Efficiently

  1. Heidi Sutherlin

    This is funny, I just posted something similar to this topic on mine. I like the term “careful drafting”. I’ve struggled with the fact that I draft mostly in my head and that the longer I spend doing that the better my “first” draft is. I think that four novels a year is completely doable. I myself am also trying to find the most efficient mode for myself. It will be interesting to see how you discover your “process.” I’ve always been fascinated with ergonomics and this is really just mental ergonomics. You are so very self aware that I think you will fine tune your process down to an art.

  2. Jamie DeBree

    I’ll have to check it out, Heidi – I had no time to really read blogs this week, unfortunately.

    I’m fascinated by people like you who really draft out most of the story in your head. I’m a bit envious, I think…I can see how that would be efficient and how the story would really come out much cleaner that way. Share your secret? 😉