I have always been a NaNoWriMo style sprinter when it comes to first drafts: my style is to stock up on caffeine, plan to get much less sleep than usual, pick up my pen, shut my eyes, and run screaming down the paper track until it's done.
This has worked beautifully for me in terms of getting out a first draft. It has also left me wondering if there isn't some way to do a first draft that doesn't leave you physically devastated at the end. It has also made me wonder what happens if you write a first draft much, much more slowly, taking enforced pauses at various times.
Writing at breakneck speed is a great way to create a sort of frenzied intimacy with your plot. You can see the whole thing really well because you don't have very long to go until you hit the end. I typically have very intense dreams involving imagery, if not themes and characters and plot points from my novel. Again this is great but I wonder if there's a more subtle way for a book to be present in your mind.
(Sidebar for the woo woo crowd: Last July during Camp NaNoWriMo, this intensity was so powerful it transferred over to Dave: one morning on our regular commute he told me about this bizarre dream he'd had. It was the scene from my novel that I'd written the night before, while he was sleeping. I hadn't told him about the scene ahead of time.)
So I'm trying this other thing. Something similar to this. Here's the infographic version of that very important and swear-word filled piece of gloriousness, courtesy also of Chuck Wendig:
So I'm doing a modified version of this, although I love the plan, and it looks ideal for someone who is just having a really crappy time fitting any writing at all into a week. I'm writing a page a day: a nice, tidy unit of variable word count. I draft by hand, so this works for me. One of my hand-written pages is 500-600 words, most of the time.
I'm not giving myself weekends off. Saturday is my busiest workday in terms of my teaching, and almost always will be, so a weekend isn't a weekend in my week. I'm planning a shorter book - novella? novellette? No idea of the designation - 100 pages in first draft. I started writing February 2, and I'm planning to finish on the last day of April, so I'll be doubling up on pages twelve days between now and the end.
Here's the really
What do I expect to get out of this? Darned if I know, but when Sarah Van Den Bosch did a similar challenge (precisely 500 words per day, or "The Graham Greene Challenge"), this is what she had to report:
Forcing yourself to stop before you feel you’re finished keeps you thinking about the story and when you’re thinking about your story, you can’t help but to keep pushing it forward even if it is only in your mind. Not only that, but I found myself scrutinizing more over word choice. What would be the best fit for that sentence? Is that really what I want to say?So far (three days in), I'm finding the writing a wee bit hitchy. Putting in an artificial stop, especially at the beginning of a story when there's so much stuff to work in, feels a little like a lurch, a little harsh. During my non-writing 23 and a half hours a day, I do feel my story churning away in the background, a sort of low-key hum, even when I'm not actively thinking about it. I'm looking forward to having energy to keep working on other projects at the same time as the novel develops. I'm curious about how much brainspace the story will take up, and I'm wondering about the potentially magical full-sleep / novel-writing combo.
I'll let you know how it goes.