Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sticking With What Works

I started the year with a Plan. I would go through the rough draft of my NaNo novel (Colonel Fitzwilliam), adding the scenes and chapters that I skipped over in November. Then, when the draft was complete, I'd print it out and begin my editing.

January 1st came, and I didn't write. Then the 2nd and the 3rd passed, and soon I'd lost the whole first week of the year. I was now definitely behind schedule--and the schedule is vital, if I'm going to get this book published before the AGM in October.

Finally, I forced myself to open my file on Sunday. I took one look at it and had a full-fledged meltdown. "It's horrible, I can't write, why did I think I could do this," and etc. The whole cycle of panic and calming down took about four hours.

In those four hours, I realized something important. The problem wasn't my book or my writing. I was trying to force my brain to work in a way that it does not. I can't look at a book and begin adding and fixing without first getting a solid grasp on what's wrong and how I can fix it. Looking at it without the list, all I could see was the insurmountable task of finding the broken bits--like needles in a haystack. (Okay, they are probably very large needles, but just as unfindable to me.)

The funny thing is I did this last year too. I spent all of December thinking I would dig in on edits for His Good Opinion without first reading the draft. I realized my error after Christmas and sent my book to my Kindle, then spent January reading and taking notes.

That's what I've done now. The NaNo draft of Colonel Fitzwilliam is on my Kindle, and after reading only two chapters I discovered a few things, much to my relief. I can write, my book doesn't suck, and I actually love my main character.

So, my point is this: If there's something that works for you, don't try to change it. I thought this other method would be more efficient, but wasting a whole week because I was too scared to look at my story is not efficient. Now that I'm doing things my way, I should be able to get this read-through done by the end of the week--which actually puts me ahead of my original schedule.