Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why I Spent 3 Hours Writing 600 Words

I can be a fast writer, but I can be a slow writer too. Throw a 1000 words in 1 hour challenge at me, and I'll come close or go over the word count every time.

Turtle
Photo by rayand

But the first draft I'm working on...well, I needed to step back instead of rushing forward.

Over the weekend, I kept thinking about the opening chapter in my current work-in-progress. The structure was fine, but the details nagged me. I did a bit of research and knew I needed to revamp a few things.

Before I started adding and deleting words willy-nilly, I read through the chapter, noting spots that were off. Then I layered in the new details, re-read the passages, and moved sentences that didn't flow well.

I also discovered areas to add more emotional depth--to give the reader more insight about the characters. Love when that happens.

At the end of my session, I logged three hours but I only wrote 600 words. Not a great rate of return! But because I took the time to fix some opening chapter problems, I'll be able to move forward at a fast pace. Nothing slows me down more than the niggling sensation that what I'm writing is off.  That's why I'm willing to sacrifice a high word count in order to fix a story problem.

Do you have slow, low word-count writing days? Or do you refuse to touch your story until the first draft is complete?

Have a terrific day!

28 comments:

  1. I'm in the midst of a rewrite and I have days where I lose 600 words! Ouch!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Jane, I've been there. It's always hard! Big hugs!!

      Delete
  2. I usually write slow and do all of the things you mentioned by preference. I can write fast, but it only ends up creating more work for me in the end. I'll make a pretty extensive outline first. I need to know what will be happening when and why. (But that doesn't mean things happen exactly like I plan them!) I just need that slow pace because finding all of those deeper things you mentioned while taking your time is my favorite part. I'll usually write 2 or 3 chapters at a time (taking extensive notes about each one before doing so) and then edit them on my iPad's kindle app about 6 or 7 times before moving on to the next ones. I really like this thoughtful way of writing. It really makes a difference in what kind of first draft I have. I can't stand an ugly first draft. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love hearing about your process, Dawn. Your method makes me think your revisions must be a breeze. You probably end up with a pretty clean first draft. Nice!!

      Delete
  3. I have days like that too. I write fast for a while then I have to slow down and get some things right in order to keep the story moving forward. I get frustrated in those 3 hr/600 wd days, but I know they are actually much more productive than they appear on paper. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true, Anne. Slow days always save me time because I don't have to fix more problems later. Great point!

      Delete
  4. I definitely have slow days and I'm always editing as I write. My rough drafts are still messy. lol
    Sometimes we just need to take our time. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, "shutting off the internal editor" is like asking me to give up coffee or chocolate. Just not realistic! :)

      Delete
  5. Sometimes if something nags me I will go back, but most times I don't. I'm going back today actually because I forgot to write an important piece that adds to the character's personality and it's crucial to the theme. So yep, I have days like that. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like to keep a cheap notebook nearby to jot down notes of things to fix later, but big issues--I can't let them sit. I hear you!

      Delete
  6. Whenever I start a new book, I start slow. That's the hardest part for me. Once I pass 10,000 words I take off like a rabbit! It doesn't hurt to have a few slow days, adding to your word count is what matters!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm similar--it takes me a little time to find the tone and to get to know my characters. Thanks for sharing!

      Delete
  7. Uh, yep! In fact, that's what I'm working on right now and it nearly KILLS me! I don't have a lot of writing time available to me, so knowing it's going to be a low word count day (or a negative one!) makes me cringe! But, I have a few issues with my beginning that are preventing me from moving forward too. Doesn't happen a lot, I normally just get the whole RD out at once and then fix. But I'm gonna have to give in and do it--so thanks for the post today. Guess I'm not alone:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear you. Productivity isn't always tangible. I know from experience that openings affect the entire book. I'd rather fix problems right away!

      Delete
  8. Ooh, this post definitely resonated with me today. So, I've been rewriting my second book for months now. As my CP knows, I keep changing the story and adding layers and looking for what's missing. Well, this week I sat down to work on my story on Monday night and totally felt SO strongly that God was telling me to just calm down and not rush and just think for awhile...don't worry about word count...so I did. I just sat there...and new pieces of my story started coming at me...slowly...and then last night, the exact same thing happened...I didn't write a single word but suddenly, the whole story just came to life in my head in a new way. Totally crazy.

    So yeah, I definitely have slow word count days...or no word count days...but sometimes, those are the most productive of all!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rewrites are really, really hard. I've completely rewritten two books. Talk about a learning experience--ugh!

      This is such smart tip--pray, think, sit with it. The answers come when we're ready to hear them. :)

      Good luck!

      Delete
  9. Verse novels are all about being slow...at least for me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll bet! For me they would be slower than slow--sludge!

      Delete
  10. I'm a slow drafter, but I make up for that during revisions and edits.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's funny how one phase can be slow and the other fast! That's awesome. :)

      Delete
  11. I'm a slow drafter, too, but in my head. By the time I sit down to write, it's 90% the way I know it needs to be. Strange, right? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that you draft it all in your head before writing. I'm a plotter, but I'm unaware of the little details until I'm actually writing. ;)

      Delete
  12. I've recently taken the pressure off of making the high word count, and turned to making my words count. My writing is so much better, and the story doesn't fall flat when I slow it down and choose my words carefully.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't that the ultimate goal? To grow as a writer? I love this!

      Delete
  13. Taking your time on the first draft means less editing and revising at the end. Fair tradeoff. And I am the slowest typist in the world. On a good day, I can hit 350 words an hour. Makes NaNo a real challenge for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Slow typing does make NaNo a challenge--but I think November makes it hard! I usually cheer everyone on. Thanksgiving and the holidays make writing 50K in a month impossible for me. :)

      Delete
  14. I once spent 45 minutes on a comma! and then went back in the next day and changed it.

    I'm like you, I have to rework the first three chapters until they're totally right, and then once that's done, I can usually fly almost to the end. I stop right before the end and go over everything once more before I write the end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, ha!! I can sooo relate! I'm finicky about my first three chapters. I spend the most time writing (and revising) them too!

      Delete

I love to hear from you!