Monday, June 08, 2009

Keeping Pace...

For the past month, I’ve been juggling two projects. One is a proposal for a Harlequin line, the other is the second half of a book I’ve chosen to transform into a single title. I’d work on one until something came up with the other, then switch. Now, this isn’t a very efficient way for me to work, because there’s always a period of adjustment for me to really get back into the story I’m working on. And, quite frankly, I was starting to get tired of both projects because they were dragging on so long.

But I wanted to get the single title done before Nationals. That is my goal, because I’m pitching this book to an editor and agent while I’m there. Plus, if I get too tired of it, I’ll just give up and move on to something more exciting (like the brand spanking new idea for a single title series I have roaming my brain at the moment), and that would be a waste of the six months I have invested in this story. Not to mention that I haven't abandoned a story yet... I don't want to start with this one.

I decided I needed help and external motivation to accomplish this task. So I signed up for a class called Fast Draft (taught by author Candace Havens) where you write a book in 2 weeks. And that’s exactly what she expects you to do. 20 pages per day. No excuses. Lucky for me, I have 1 very good caveat: my book was half written already. So my goal has been 13 pages per day and in a week I’ve written 98 pages. I’m quite impressed and finally seeing the end of the tunnel after a long time in the trenches.

Not that it’s been easy, by any stretch of the imagination. Though I’m sure I have it a lot easier than women who have to work full time. But I do have rug rats underfoot all day, who require being fed and toted places occasionally. It’s really hard to keep your focus when munchkins come in asking you questions all the time or just wanting to tell you about something interesting. I can shut them out for a little while, but not all day.

According to the teacher, the average author can write 20 pages in about 3 hours. I’ve always thought I was a slow writer and now I know it for certain. It takes me 4 hours (approximately) to write my 13 pages. On a good day. Add in interruptions, and it is taking me quite a large chunk of my day to get this accomplished. But accomplish it, I do. Of which I’m very proud.

My birthday is coming up this week and someone asked me what I was going to do to celebrate. My answer? Write. The class won’t be over yet, but the book will be almost done. :)

When you are working on a project, do you like to sprint to the finish or pace yourself? Authors, do you think fast drafting would work for you? Why or why not?


Our very own Instigator is blogging today on the Blaze Authors loop.

Coming Soon!

On Thursday, June 11th, welcome author Julie Cohen to the Playground.

Don’t forget!! We are currently suffering from a fit of nostalgia… 80’s nostalgia. As part of the madness, we’ve declared June 16th Big Hair Day on the blog. Send us pictures of your Texas Hair, your Mall Bangs, your poodle perm, or even that asymmetrical Flock of Seagulls hairstyle you wore so proudly! There will be competitions, bragging rights to be gained, prizes, and much amusement at what used to be so attractive. Send your photos to by June 10 if you want to play along!


Problem Child said...

20 pages in 3 hours!?!?!!?

Oh, I wish.

Linda Winstead Jones said...

I'm a sprinter (some days, anyway) and still, it usually takes me all day to get 20 *rough* pages written. And that all depends on where the story is, at the moment.

And I can't go back and forth between active projects. I might take a day or two and do research for something else, but it just takes me too long to get my brain to completely switch gears.

But in the end, anything that gets you to the finish line is worth grabbing onto. :-)


Christine said...

I did the April Kihlstrom BOOK IN A WEEK class--basically the goal is to write 50,000 words in a week. I did it-it's very rough, but I did finish a first draft that I can now go and revise to my heart's content. For a first draft, it's a wonderful tool. Mind you, I did not have an internal critic on during that week, I didn't worry about the *rules* and a lot of XXXINSERT BLAH BLAH HERE LATER, and so forths so it is a very very rough draft. We prepped for a month prior to the actual intensive writing week. Then the main rule was KEEP MOVING FORWARD and DON'T FIX ANYTHING. The deal was to get the core of the story down.

I just finished revising the third book for the zillionth time as I am pitching it at the conference. The first 5 chapters have seen a lot of revisions via contests etc., but the last 6 chapters had not seen as much work. Oh, was that tough. My goal was a chapter a day to finish by last Friday. My chapters are relatively short (2-4 scenes at most) and it's a category series romance. The middle chapters were so easy to whip through, but the last 4 chapters? Oh my!! I spent 6 hours on one scene and then I had two more to go after that. But I stuck to it and got it done (now that doesn' t mean I won't be tinkering later on).

In between major projects, I work on the other parts of the writing industry/business: synopsis, query, tag lines, making a web site, etc. There's no way I could manage two major projects at the same time. My brain would burst.

Congratulations on getting the work accomplished!!

(sorry this is so long--I am creatively avoiding cleaning house--highly necessary and long overdue)

Playground Monitor said...

The best I've EVER done was about 13 pages in 8 hours. Maybe I could do 20 pages in 3 hours with a gun to my head. No... the gun would just distract me.

I have trouble switching between projects too. Too confusing my my old brain.

Good luck with your fast draft.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Oh yikes. Sounds torturous. Good luck. (No more words left -- deadline brain.)

M.V.Freeman said...

I am suffering through the class with you and I LOVE it.

I will do this on my next book too.

Ok, I am fatigued. I am dragging..but I have managed a few days of 20 pages in 4 hours (not 2 and half like the Candace does..I want her brain and typing skills). Plus, would I show anyone those pages...not on your life. You'd question my sanity and writing skills....LOL

But its working..
So its back to writing....

Gwynlyn MacKenzie said...

Writing with rug rats gnawing at your ankles all day? You're my hero (or, rather, heroine.)

Truth is, I know lots of gals who do it, but I could never manage it myself--I get too absorbed in the story. Next I knew, the house was on fire, the dog was running loose, or they'd filled the washer with oatmeal.

I prefer a good sprint, but sometimes it just doesn't work that way, so I keep slogging--just part of the job description.

Instigator said...

That's what I said, PC! I can do 5 pages an hour so 20 would take me 4 hours. There are some days I can do that...and some days I just can't.

Congratulations on getting so many pages done, Angel!! So, what are you rewarding yourself with? :-)


Andrea Laurence said...

Every now and then I can manage 18-20 pages in a day, but every day? Over and over? Ugh. No way. I was lucky to manage 8 a day when I was doing NaNo.

I do need to finish this stupid book, though. At 20 pages a day, I'd be done in 3 days.

Jean said...

I can do a lot of rough pages in a relatively short time, but I am very dialog heavy.

Angel said...

I didn't say the pages were pretty, did I? ;) I consider my first drafts to be word vomit.

And I've definitely learned that I don't do well switching between projects. Something I don't want to do again.

Christine, that's my plan when I get this book finished. I have pitches and query letters that I need to get done before conference.