3. Writing the first draft
After I finish plotting and doing character biographies, I start writing the first draft.
A novel of a thousand pages begins with a single scene. ~ James Scott Bell.
Once I get going, I write every day. Yes, sometimes I have to force myself to sit down and write a few hundred words. Other days I enthusiastically type out up to four thousand words.
I only write when I’m inspired, and I make sure I’m inspired every morning at 9 a.m. ~ Peter DeVries.
Every day, I start by reading what I wrote the day before, adding a word here or a sentence there, deleting or changing others. But I try not to get bogged down in editing mode. By the way, I had Jorie, my writer in Second Nature, use the same method. She re-reads and does a quick edit… but then she starts the typical writer procrastination games: doing a word count, removing a comma, doing a word count again, adding a hyphen, doing a word count again… anyone else ever found herself doing that kind of thing? :-)
Speaking of word count… I have an Excel spreadsheet that keeps track of my word count and produces a progress graph for me. Very geeky.
It usually takes me four or five months to finish the first draft of a 140,000-word novel. I finished the first draft of Second Nature in three months, while Backwards to Oregon took eight months. Then it usually takes at least that long to get from the first draft to a manuscript that is ready for submission.
So, the writers among you, how long does it usually take you to write the first draft?