Importance of a schedule

Posted by Derek Chamberlain on Sunday, September 25, 2011 Under: Writing
Last week I set myself a writing schedule rather than doing it all off the cuff as I had been. It worked quite well. The current section of Wayfarer is now at almost 15,000 words and Yukihime, the short story I've been working on, has undergone a complete rewrite and is almost finished. It is about 2500 words long at present though a further 2000 words await editing. 

The schedule has been hard to maintain at times, especially in the face of work and study demands, and a few sacrifices have had to be madeā€”TV, sleep, and personal reading time. I'm going to keep with it though, fine tuning it from time to time, because the writing regimen is at least showing progress. Having a time during which you have to have your butt in the chair and your fingers on the keyboard, even if you're not writing anything, makes a world of difference. Even if you start out really straining to find the words, once you've popped that cork, they do start to flow.

The other thing I've been doing, I've been doing for a while but I've never posted about it, is that I don't edit while I write. I used to do that. Write a chapter then go back and read it and edit it before moving on to the next one. It's amazing how many different drafts I've got of the same book or story that only cover the first two or three chapters, or even only the first, simply because I got so frustrated polishing that first chapter that I eventually gave up on the idea altogether. Now I write, and when the entire first draft is complete, then I take a break for a few days or weeks before going back and reading it all through and then starting the editing process. The difference is amazing. To actually hold an entire draft of a book in your hands makes you feel a whole lot more like a 'proper' writer. 

The cooling off period is necessary too. It allows you to gain a little bit of separation between you and the text and see it clearer. In the first run through you can't be critical. It's your baby and criticism will kill it. On the first, and subsequent, edits, you need that critical eye. You need to look at it as though it were someone else's book and ruthlessly mark down all the bits that obscure the story. With the first draft, all you've got is the blank of a statue, the editing and rewriting chip away at the accretions until you can see the beauty underneath.

The main point, really, is to sit your butt in a seat and pound away at the keyboard until you've got a complete draft. It's well-nigh impossible to edit thin air successfully. Get the draft down, even if you think it's crap as you're typing it in, get it down. Once it's down, you can move on to the next chapter, then the next, then the next until it's all done. Only then do you come through with your red and blue pencils and cut away all the deadwood.  

In : Writing 


Tags: schedule  draft  editing  writing 
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Meet the scribbler


I'm a writer, editor, indie publisher, and dedicated Magic Spreadsheet user. Originally from Adelaide, Australia, I've been living in Japan since 1995. I've had a life-long interest in writing and in speculative fiction. My first book was published in mid-2014.
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