Saturday, February 5, 2011

First Draft - Open or Closed?

Those who follow my brilliant, witty, and insightful Tweets (just ask my mom), already know this: I've finished the first draft of my second novel.

Yes, tis' true. Thank you for your support, furry one.

For some, this may be a 'so what' moment, but to me, it's a big deal. I wanted to know that I had more than one story in me. I mean, I knew I had more, but would I be able to get it out and put it on paper.

I am happy to say that my fears were laid to rest. Not only was I able to call on the muse again, but this time I was able to finish even faster than with my first story. This novel took me 32 days to write.

Granted this is only my first draft, and my story will go through a lot of surgery before it's done. But this got me to think about my writing process:

Writing my first draft is a lonely experience. It's only me and my manuscript. No one else.

Stephen King calls this writing with the doors closed. He, like me, writes his first draft behind closed doors. I guess I should say "I, like Mr King, write my first draft"... as opposed to... oh, you know what I mean!

He doesn't mean literally closed doors, although I'm sure that would help. In my case, my home office doors don't actually keep my little monkey's out.

Even when I close the doors, they stand behind the glass and wave at me.

I only share the first chapter. And only with my wife. After that, I am in solitary confinement. I share nothing. NOTHING.

For whatever reason, I assumed most people write their first draft this way. But, nay. Many write one chapter or two and get it to their critique group. I would be such a mess. For many reasons. My first draft has gaps in it. The themes have not been harnessed. The archeological find is still in the soil. The shape is there, but the definition, is far from being ready for others to read. How could I share that!

I've taken a lot of my studying and coaching to heart. You write the first draft fast and furious. Don't let anyone or anything get in the way. Finish your first draft fast.

Another writer, Gwen Hernandez, reminded me of a perfectly appropriate quote by the great Nora Roberts: "You can fix a bad page. You can't fix a blank one."

Critique group? Not me. I don't think I could do it. If people started to give me their input, I would be a basket case. "But, I'm not really done yet. Don't judge me!" Maybe as I get more novels under my belt, I'll change my mind. But somehow I think this is in my DNA.

I'd like to know:
  • What's your first draft velocity? Are you fast and furious, or methodical, with various revisions while you write the first draft?
  • Do you share your work in progress? Or write with the doors closed?


  1. Oh, hey, thanks for the mention. That quote always helps me when I'm feeling stuck.

    I just blogged about my own process this week, but not about the open/closed door thing. I prefer to write the first draft without any input. Then I let the story sit for a couple weeks, do the first round of edits, and *then* send it off to my CP.

    As far as velocity, once I'm done with my pre-writing, I can write fairly quickly. With my latest MS, I wrote 78K in about six weeks. NaNo helped that quite a bit, but when I'm done pre-writing this one, I'm shooting for 2 months.

  2. Good to hear that there's at least one other writer who does not share :)

    One "fellow" I know said that I need to trust my writing. My response was, "I need my characters to grow up, before they're allowed to talk to anyone!"

    As for your productivity... wow! That is an phenomenal daily rate.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...