aftering (last week's writing intensive)


I went in a little worried. More worried than I let on, though you can see it, under the bravado. 

I try for transparency, but I need my own bravado to keep me focused and on track. Otherwise, I lose faith in myself. 

In spite of my desires, I hadn't been able to finish the first draft last summer and that worried me. Finishing projects is difficult for me at the very best of times and this book is even more difficult because of the subject matter. Grief is hard. 

Grief is hard. 

That's one of the fucking lessons of the book itself! Still. I wanted more ease in the writing. And I made sure I got more ease. 

I think I needed the time to distance myself from that grief-filled year. No, I know I need that time. 

And I went in fully prepared, which made a huge difference. I wasn't sick, the house looked great and I had easy meals made up in advance. And a commitment to not engage in social media until after the writing was over: that was the biggest thing!!

Monday was a warm up day. Daylight savings and a sleep deficit accumulated over the weekend meant I woke up late. Well, I wake up late a lot, so no big deal, but it meant less writing time. I still felt good about the writing. 

Tuesday, same deal, slightly more writing time. More words, still felt good, though I was a lot stiffer (physically) at the end of the day. 

Wednesday, I was fully in the groove and I wrote over 5000 (great, amazing) words and felt extremely elated. So much so that I didn't know how I could top that day. There wasn't much to write; actually, it felt like I'd finished. But I had two more days of my (scheduled) intensive left and I wasn't sure that I had an actual first draft. 

(Right in the middle of it looks messy, in my writing experience. I reminded myself.) 

Thursday dawned late. Super late. And I was groggy as hell. And I had a sinus headache. 

(Allergies?)

I decided that instead of trying to write more, when I didn't know where to start, I'd do the other thing that needed doing: copy and pasting the relevant blog entries into the manuscript (then editing them as needed). 

And at that point I had over ten thousand more words and let myself of the hook and watched Survivor before going to pick Remy up. 

Self-care looks like rest and watching a favorite silly TV show so I can chat about it with my Survivor group, sometimes. 

And yet, I have to admit that did make me feel a bit down on myself at the end of the day. But I practiced being kind to myself and by the end of Friday, I felt like my choice was exactly what was needed. But Thursday I was still in the thick of it and I couldn't see the forest for the trees. Which is exactly why I needed (and chose) a day of ease. 

Friday morning, I had a decision to make, which I'd mulled over with both my husband and our neighbor, who is an editor: do I keep writing or do I put the book in order so I could see what I had left to do?

(Having written it in chunks, it was all over the place and I didn't have any order at all.) 

Feeling pretty groggy still and also not having any idea of what to write next, I decided to put together a list of the chapter titles. And after seeing that list, the organization became immediately clear and went much quicker than I had anticipated. 

Chapter order set, I had a few more little pieces to write and then (for printing's sake) I cut and pasted it all into one long document. (I did each days writing in a separate document, to make daily word count easier.) 

Arms then, boom! I was done!!!!

(121 pages, 25,000+ words - a good first draft!!!)

I expect it will grow in the second (third, fourth etc…) draft.

I set out to create a first draft in a week (or two) and I did it in a week. 

(I'm very happy it didn't take two weeks, one week was very intensive. My wrists and shoulders hurt a lot after Wednesday, particularly.)

What do I take away from this experience (beside the obvious, having an actual first draft)?

* I was correct about my preferred writing style being intense and short. Three days of writing was really optimal, and the two editing days, which I needed because of how spread out the previous writing was, was just right, too. 

* Starting right after daylight savings time was really problematic. It worked out, but I would have had more time to write if that hour hadn't been taken away. Oh well. It was the right time, this time. Next time, I'll pick a different week. 

* Yup, already thinking about next time. (And about fiction again. o0)

* All that prep work I did paid off! Only thing I'll do different is next time, I'm going to schedule a massage half way through in advance. (Wednesday, I really needed one, but didn't get around to scheduling it, so I didn't get one.) 

* I definitely feel better about my ability to follow through on what I'm committed to do now. Practice is good! Yes, I was worried, but I did a bunch of prep work and I went in with the attitude that I was just going to get it done and I did get it done. Bam!

* I'm still unclear on exactly how this book is going to end up being published. My neighbor (the editor) suggests sending it out to publishers directly. (She calls with academic publishing and her airless don't have agents). I'm inclined towards DIY publishing, because it's easiest and then I don't have to deal with rejection or other people's opinions about editing being more final than mine. 

(Though I will still definitely have it copy-edited at least once by someone other than me. And I already have a few beta readers lined up for suggestions. But the difference between beta-reader suggestion and actual editor's "you have to" is big for me. Big enough to alleviate my marketing qualms? Maybe. We'll see. I'm not committed to anything just yet.)

* It's going to be a fantastic book. It isn't quite yet ("shitty first drafts" being something I believe in - though right now I don't actually think it's shitty, I'm just going to assume I eventually will, since that's what first drafts are). I'm very optimistic about the next few drafts. 

* I'm going to give myself a few more days before I print it out and start thinking about the second draft. 

* I missed blogging, but I'm really glad I gave myself the week off!! 

* Avoiding social media in the morning made my mornings much more productive. I don't think I always want to be that productive (I got a lot less socializing in) but it was really good for my word count. 

Yup. It was a good writing intensive. Just what I needed!