For the first six months or so, everything was going according to plan. The goals and timelines I had set for myself, my low expectations, were all being met.
Now? Not so much.
I finished the first draft of To the East ahead of schedule. I wanted to have the second draft done by the time I left on vacation last month. But I didn’t. So I figured I’d finish when I got back into town, and gave myself an extra week. “It’s okay, I built in a little extra time,” I told myself, to quiet the dark shadow gnawing at my gut. But even with the extension, I still didn’t finish.
I’m not nearly two and a half weeks behind, and I’m not even close to being done with this draft yet. It’s starting to worry me.
What happened, you ask? Probably a lot of things. It was probably foolish to base the timeline of this book off the timeline for the first one. I looked at how long it took me to get To the North finished once I really started working away at it, and used that as a rough estimate for how long To the East would take. I knew a nine-month turnaround was quick, but hey. I could do it.
But then I decided to do what everyone says you’re supposed to do. Everyone. Every writer who has ever been asked for their helpful advice on how to write a book. “Just write,” they all say, collectively, a crowd of identical voices. “Don’t worry about if it’s good or not. Just write until it’s done. You can always fix it later.”
That is most definitely not what I did with my first book. I absolutely took the edit-as-you-go approach. As a result, the amount of time spent on any part of the book shrank steadily the further I got into the story. I spent so much time setting up the story, crafting the characters, getting everything just right at the beginning before moving on, but by the time I reached the halfway point the book just flew.
Most of the last half or so of To the North is the first and only draft. There are entire chapters in the finished book that never received any editing aside from proofreading. It reached a point where the words just flowed, because I had spent so much time setting it up that I knew exactly where it was going.
Well, for whatever reason, this time around I decided to do it “the right way” and create an outline, write the whole first draft, get it on paper (or screen, rather), as a complete entity, and then go back and make edits when I was done. You know, the way you’re supposed to do it.
Well, guess what, Everyone Who Thinks That’s the Best Way to Write?
Look, I can see the merit in it. I can see how it could be a helpful method. But I really don’t think it works for me.
It goes against my nature as a planner. It means I end up creating tangents and storylines that won’t go anywhere because I don’t have a road map. It means that I don’t start to really figure out my characters until I’ve written them for 200+ pages.
This editing thing is taking for-e-ver, and I’m getting so frustrated with it. And it’s not because I’m precious about my writing. I’m slashing the hell out of this book. I’m basically rewriting the whole thing – which is the problem. I have no idea how many times I’m going to have to rewrite the whole thing before I’m happy with it.
I’m finally at a point where I feel like I’m starting to make progress, and that’s only because I stopped and went back to the beginning yet again. I’m still hopeful that I’ll meet my September release – I had originally scheduled to launch at the beginning of the month, just as a precaution, to buy me more time if I ended up needing it.
See? Forethought. Planner. This is why the “just write” thing doesn’t work for me. I’m definitely going back to the way that works best for me when I decide to start tackling the third book.