When I wrote my first manuscript, it was coincidence that the bulk of the writing occurred during November, aka NaNoWriMo. I had no idea what that stood for, and had to Google it. National Novel Writing Month.
To be sure, great things happen during NaNoWriMo. Would-be authors help would-be authors push through blockages, and feel motivated and loved.
My experience watching the NaNoWriMo tweets zip through my Twitter feed was all about word count. There were “write clubs” and “sprints” and all these ways to get people to push words onto the page.
While I didn’t really participate in that, it was hard not to compare my nightly output with that of the others I saw online … 2,500 words, 3,000 words in a few precious hours.
Let me be clear: There is nothing at all wrong with these types of efforts, and for many, this style of push push push really pays off. It did help me, I flew through my first draft and got it done much sooner than I thought.
In the end, I had a first draft, a dream, really. A manuscript. A shiny new thing I had never achieved before.
Then the beta readers got it, and a developmental editor got it, and finally, I got it back. First draft, indeed. I read it again weeks after finishing and felt the urge to apologize to all my beta readers for having to work through the garbage I fed them. It was, as all first drafts are, miserable.
While that revised manuscript is being queried, I started my next story. I didn’t plan a different strategy, just to sit and write as I did before. The first night, with all the ideas in the world flush in my head and a really detailed outline of exactly what that first chapter should be, my three-hour word count? 721.
What was wrong with me, I first thought. What was wrong with Word, I also thought. How could this be. How aweful. Three hours for 721 damn words, barely half a chapter, by my standards.
I reread it and realized what had happened, without even thinking. I had written a second draft. Oh, I wrote the first one, too. Then stopped at the end of each paragraph and went back and revised, toned, fixed, thought, and revised again.
Over the last few weeks, my pace has picked up a bit, but the impromptu strategy is still in place: Write and revise simultaneously.
Will this draft be market ready? Hell no. Will it be query ready? Hell no. Will it be miles ahead of where I was after my first manuscript’s first draft? Hell yes.
Write your second draft first.
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