Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 2 of Kate's crazy novel challenge - and a question about speed-writing

OK, so far I'm at 6,016 words and still enjoying it. The test will come at 10K which is where the whole 'oh, this really is becoming harder work' moment usually hits.

In the comments section, Captain Black said: I can't speak from experience, never having tried NaNoWriMo, but from what I've seen so far, I don't think I'm a believer. I'm sure it's great writing exercise but other than that I don't see how anything that's essentially rushed is likely to be good enough to publish. I speak for myself, of course, as I have little natural talent and have to work very hard at my writing.I draw a parallel between this sort of thing and speed rock climbing. Getting to the top is the challenge but doing it faster at the risk of safety seems pointless.Is there some other external driving force behind your speed-writing challenge, or is it just for fun? In any case, I wish you good luck with it.

I found this a very interesting post, and I wondered what others thought? I know that for me, though I do enjoy the writing, it's the ideas that motivate me, the chance to explore and grow something from a tiny 'what if' moment. So I want to maximise the burst of enthusiasm that goes with beginning a new project...

In terms of 'publishability', I do edit a great deal after a fast first draft, but I am not sure that I edit significantly more than I would after a slow first draft. I've never tried to write a novel - even a short one, more of a novella, I guess - in a fortnight before and I admit it is bonkers, but in answer to the Captain's question about whether there's an external driving force, well, yes, there are severak:

1. I've had this idea for ages, it's quite high concept, I want to do it in case someone else thinks of it.

2. I am trying several new things for me with this project - I am usually a serious planner, but this time I am writing in very short chapters and seeing where the story takes me. It's very much an experiment to see whether that method might work or whether it will tie me in knots. Likewise, writing YA fiction is new, but I believe this idea absolutely fits that age group, and I'd like to see whether I have it in me to carry it off. Finally, the story itself is very different in tone: it does not have the 'happy-ish ever after or at least for now' ending that most of my adult fiction has.

3. For the reasons in 2. above, I want to get as far as I can as fast as I can, to see whether it's working. Basically, I have an income from my adult books that I wouldn't want to jeopardise by focusing on something speculative for too long... I have, in a slightly 'management training' David Brent-esque way, a whiteboard with my year's projects on it. My novels under contract are A category, i.e. the priority, and then I give myself a B category to run alongside the A stuff - B projects have the potential either to challenge me, or bring income, or both, and they're to be done when I'm waiting for edits to be returned, or if I am not too exhausted by meeting the day's word count for the current A project. So this is a B... (I also have a C stream, and that's for any mulling time OR for when I am very cheesed off with both A & B projects). C stream projects don't tend to progress very fast...

4. And the time limit is because in two weeks I have a set of proofs and a set of copy edits for two separate books coming home to roost, and they are top priority, as they're for books out in October and November. So if I can get Project B well underway by then, all the better.

How do YOU juggle different projects? Or am I alone in wanting to write lots of different things at the same time?

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6 Comments:

Blogger Captain Black said...

Thanks for the in formation, Kate, and for the honourable mention. Your writing speed is very impressive; about three times as fast as me on a really good day!

I see your point about it being only the first draft that's speed-written. If much care is taken over the subsequent edits, then it would have every chance of being published, despite what I said earlier.

I'm used to juggling many projects but I do it rather badly. At the moment, theoretically, I have eight writing projects, two software projects and a web design project on the go. In practise, most of it has hit the shelf (not quite gone out of the window but it wouldn't surprise me) and I'm focussing on two novels. One is a co-authoring project. We've done the first draft and are now at an interesting stage where editing it is going to be challenging. For starters, I live in Surrey and he's on the Isle of Wight. God knows how we're going to organise ourselves.

Part of me is tempted to have a go at speed-drafting, just so that I get rid of some of my backlog of work. There are whole books written on project management and time management but much of their advice is based on teams rather than individuals. As most writing projects have a single author, these manuals are of limited use, though many of the disciplines can still be used. Much of the project management methodology from my software development days has found its way into my writing "career".

10:54 am  
Blogger Lori W. said...

Lurker wandering by...

A book written at that speed can absolutely be publishable. I have two books contracted...one took 35 days to write and a week to edit. The other took 2 weeks to write and 3 days to edit. And my NaNo novel is being queried to agents right, with a couple of partial requests.

It just depends on the individual...everyone writes at their own speed.

1:29 am  
Blogger my name in print said...

I'm thinking about NaNoWriMo as a kind of kick or support at my fist novel atttempt but my novel idea needs a lot of research so I dont think its for me...

Lori W is right - everyone works at their own pace and what some people can get away with others can't.

1:24 am  
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2:30 pm  
Blogger Helen said...

I really like your whiteboard with projects on it. I might nick that idea to try and organise my own.

7:42 pm  
Anonymous Lynne Motijoane said...

Thanks for sharing - good to read that time management is a stress shared! I've got the whiteboard, and tomorrow's mission is timetable myself. Blocks of writing - coursework - short stories to send off, and a little time left for eating, sleeping and 'on demand TV' - leaving about 2 minutes a week for cleaning and housekeeping. Result!
But time management is all about discipline. If the time is up - change to the next block, do not over run on your timetable blocks - until of course, you have to revise the whole damn thing - because everything overruns! Please let us know if you find the answers.

9:26 am  

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