October 10, 2012

Writing Club Wednesdays - Manic Writing


Okay, so this is my first legit post for YA Misfits!!!! I KNOW!!!!

Excuse my abuse of exclamation points and all caps. But it goes with the topic of this post, which is WRITING MANIA.

See, normally I'm pretty chill, as writers go. I don't usually cry over my characters, I never balk at killing someone. I don't angst over revisions, especially not killing darlings, and I'll move stuff around in a book like nobody's business without flinching. I don't even cry over critique. Not usually.

But one thing I hate? Absolutely hate with every twitchy fiber of my on-edge writer being?

An unfinished draft.

You guys, I hate unfinished drafts so much that if there was a trial for a drug that would turn humans into killer soldiers who never slept I would SIGN UP FOR THAT just so that I could (maybe, hopefully) pull all nighters until I could just finish that draft for the love of all things holy. Being a psycho cyborg killer soldier would just be an unfortunate side effect of FINALLY EFFING FINISHING THAT DRAFT.

I hate that there are words and themes and ideas and phrases and character tics and nuances floating around in my head that I eventually want to be on the paper but might never make it because I'm human and humans have to sleep, I guess. Or work, or eat, or pay attention to their families. I hate that the story is on my mind every second of every day and I'm afraid to stop thinking of it lest some of those precious details flutter free of my brain and never come back.

I hate an unfinished draft more than when the ice cream drops off the cone.
 I hate it more than sad puppies.
 I hate it more than a bird taking a crap on my arm.



(Things I like better than unfinished drafts.)

Yep. I hate, I hate, I hate an unfinished draft. HATE. UNFINISHED. DRAFTS.

So, what does that mean for me as a writer?

I get just a little, teeny, tiny, eensy-weensy bit manic about finishing that first draft.

(Me, in first draft mode. Or, originally, Caffeine Nirvana. Same difference.)

It's no wonder that I finish first drafts in anywhere from seven to twelve weeks. 
It's also no wonder that they usually suck.


I mean, I'll do anything to finish that draft in as little time as possible. ANYTHING.
I'll ignore housework (like, IGNORE it,) feed my kids only pasta and chicken nuggets and whatever they can unpackage themselves for weeks on end. I'll quit working out, I'll skip showers (Yep! Seriously,) I'll pull all-nighters. 

I'll even stay off of Twitter.
I know. Hopefully that drives home for you just how much I hate unfinished first drafts. 

Now, when it comes to revising?
Friends, I basically BASK in that. Yes, let's lazily move around this plot point. Oh, no rush. Let's let stuff marinate. Maybe I should beat sheet this sucker. Or beat sheet it again - can't hurt! Highlighting all the character tics and analyzing the printout? YES PLEASE.

Line edits? Love 'em. I could tinker with that vocab and sentence structure for weeks.

But unfinished first drafts? Bring on the manic writer persona.

What about you guys? Do you have a manic writing phase? Commiserate below in the comments, if only so I don't feel so crazy.

11 comments:

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

First of all, that sad little pup is adorable. I want to squoosh him and make it all better.

Second, I'm with you. I normally blaze through first drafts with a fervor. And thank you for admitting all the things that go undone while you're trapped in first draft mode. I feel less guilty about it now.

The MS I'm working on now sat half-finished for several months while I edited two other MS's, and I'm having a hard time getting back into drafting. It's time to shift into high gear and just punch out the second half. After I go buy a 55 gallon drum of chicken nuggets. :D

Leigh Ann said...

@Laura Omigosh, if that's the only thing I accomplish today I'll be happy.

Yeah, you do need to go into high gear. That's the only thing that helps me. Wanna sprint together?

Darci Cole said...

I hate it too. But pregnancy took all the fire out of me. I'm just now getting ready to start what I'd like to call a "new first draft". Because the story's been reworked so much that all previous drafts are nearly irrelevant. I'm starting today... Hopefully in 4 weeks I'll have something.

Leigh Ann said...

@Darci, SEE? Four weeks is NOTHING for a draft. I bow to you.

And you're doing an great job. You know?

Rachel said...

So my story is this: I wrote this baby (my 2nd novel) in 5 weeks. I put it away for a year and then queried. HAHAHA. Newbie mistake #1. Then I took it out again after getting a shizzton of form R's and one R+R. I revised that draft 5 times. Then I was told recently I need to rewrite the entire thing. So now I'm here -- with you, Leigh Ann, hating first drafts and wanting to be done with this so I can do revisions -- I'm at 16k and I just think about how easy it was to write that first first draft.......and how this one is not that easy at all.
Oh woes of being a writer!!

Feaky Snucker said...

I hate unfinished drafts as well. But you know what else I hate? ALL THE IDEAS! For real. I've got 2 fnished MS's that aren't going anywhere, that I could revise and query in the future. 1 MS I'm waiting on the result of an R&R for, and 25k of its sequel. I've got 35k of another WIP I stopped writing to finish the MS I'm querying. I've got a memoir idea that won't shut up, I've got two other WIP's started, and keep getting more ideas. *sobs* Ideas keep coming. I don't have the time! I skip everything, but don't have the time!

If the ideas would hang the hell on until I've got some time, it would be LOVELY. *side eyes own brain*

Drafting is fun - there are ALL the possibilities. It's a heady time, full of the power of what you can do to your MC's. <3

Amanda Olivieri said...

I also hate unfinished drafts and sleep! But I never get writing mania. I kind of wish I did because it takes me months to draft. So annoying. Also, I get this weird thing when I'm almost finished where I don't want to write the ending. I mean, I DO want to, obviously, but it's hard to make myself write it for some reason so it takes even longer. *sigh* Share some of your mania, will you?

VikLit said...

I completely agree. I want to get the story out so that I can work on it. My first MS took me a long time to draft, partly due to personal time available to write. I currently have two ideas and am aiming to get drafts of them out. Get the words on the page so I can a) have other thoughts again and b) then do some revising!

Good luck with your draft.

Alex Brown said...

This was totally me with my current WIP. I finished the first draft in about two months because I just. couldn't. stop. writing. BUT now I'm pretty sure I gave myself carpal tunnel and am wading around in revision land, trying to make sure the whole thing makes sense.

I'm with you on the first-draft dislike, though! I'm much happier now that I have to just go back and connect all the disparate dots :)

erica m. chapman said...

Ha! This I know ;o) Yeah, for me, I hate quitting once I start, which is basically the same thing. For me, revisions are a huge hurdle, but I'm getting better at them. My rush to get the draft done causes them to be screenplays. LOL. All dialogue and action and no description and barely any inner thought.

It's not a bad habit to have ;o)

Seabrooke said...

I write my first drafts quickly, too, but for the opposite reason - I LOVE the rush of drafting. I get such a high off immersing myself in and discovering the story. My hate is revisions. I probably spend less time on revisions than I should (I do a few serious rounds, but I'm anything but a perfectionist) because I just want to be done with them and moving on to the next MS so I can start drafting again. :)

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