Expelling a first draft

First drafting can often feel like this.

We made the NaNoWriMo deadline, completing the first draft of The Long Game novella number five on November 30 (it was a close one). It’s not the prescribed 50,000 words of the month-long event, but then we didn’t plan for it to be, so I still claim victory over November.

I see a lot of other writers on social media who love free writing (first drafting), but hate editing. For me (and I think I speak for Michael as well), editing is a joy in comparison to trying to barf out the initial version of anything. While first drafting, I know that what I’m writing is somewhere between terrible and passable, but we need to capture everything while the excitement and clarity of plot are still fresh and alive. That means fighting the urge to go back and massage and obsess over each paragraph, sentence, and word (because they’ll probably be changed during editing anyway).

Michael follows along daily, reading, commenting, making notes, and we discuss course changes and potential plot impacts before we’re too far down the road. Doing it this way helps us to avoid a lot of plot issues and future rework.

That in no way means that we avoid rework. The third novella in The Long Game already has to be significantly revised and restructured thanks to decisions we made during the writing of number five. It was no surprise; we both knew number three was weak and wandering in some spots even while writing its first draft. We just didn’t know how to fix it until we reached this point.

(I found this fun related article: Why Writers Must Occasionally Vomit. Apparently I’m not the only one who equates first drafting with nausea.)