Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Like Pulling Teeth: When Writing Hurts

On one hand, we have the Gena Showalters of the world. They write as if possesed and can finish whole books in a single bound. Then we have the Diana Peterfreund's of the world. Three or four pages is a normal day, six to eight a stellar day.

Then there's me. I have tried to write fast. Finished a book in a month once. Of course, it totally sucked and even after I revised, my agent wanted a gazillion changes. And then I have books like DASH (the book formerly known as HOT). They seem to take forever, and I do mean forever. Now granted, in between fiction writing, I'm writing a gazillion non fiction articles. But honestly, writing the first draft is often like pulling teeth, in the old days, without gas or pain killers.

It disturbs me.

I felt much better after hearing author Cherry Adair speak. She said she hates writing first drafts and has to force herself to sit in a chair and write for 15 minutes. Then she gives herself a five minute break.

I do the same thing. I write for a few minutes and then pace, or fold a load of laundry or do dishes. Then come back. Believe it or not, I write better when chatting with someone online about writing. When I can vent. When someone else is pulling teeth. When I don't feel so alone. Very strange.

Oh, and a shout out to my son. As some of you know, he's in a college program to finish his diploma and earn college credit at the same time. At the end of two years, he will have an AA degree and his diploma. Anyway, he took his placement tests yesterday (he has been in precollege classes for the first term). He blew the writing test out of the water! Nailed 119 out of 120 questions and the guidence counciler wants to put him directly into Writing 121 instead of putting him into a lower class to get him ready for 121. And he just turned seventeen:)That's my boy!


Jaci Burton said...

trust me. you aren't alone. that first draft is SO hard and i loathe it with a passion.


Wooo hoo and mega congrats to your son! He's rockin! YOu should be very proud of him.

Anonymous said...

LOL! I am SO much better at writing the first draft. Of course, I self-edit constantly, so when it's done, it's really more like a second or third draft. And I absolutely hate Big Edits.

Actually, each ms I write, I'm hoping to fix the problems before they start. I love your plotting board -- haven't made my own yet, but I do have my MS Excel storyboard. Still, seems like there's always something that doesn't show up until the end. Sigh.

Good luck!

Oh, and thanks for sharing the movie titles. LOL! My four-year-old calls it her "gina", so I guess she's very hip an au courant. ;?)

Anonymous said...

I don't think your process is strange at all, Teri :)

Anonymous said...

It varies for me. Whatever process I'm in seems like the hardest part. But generally, my rough drafts go much faster than my edits. My current WIP took a very long time to finish, but it was written mostly in several periods of large output. I'm afraid the polishing will take forever. ;-(

Congrats to your son! That's wonderful!

Anonymous said...

I don't know if that's my process. Take NaNo WriMo for example. Last week there was a day that I wrote 33 pages. While I was writing the draft of my latest book, I had several twenty page days.

Jill Monroe said...

Yes, but Gena doesn't take a shower during that whole time. It's a trade off!

Gena Showalter said...

I don't wash my hair either!! :)

Christine Keach said...

Well, I'm struggling to finish ANOTHER draft and I can't seem to get the ending down. So, I'm going to try the write for 15 minutes. Walk away. Write agan for 15 minutes. Walk away. Hopefully I'll actually walk back...

Debby G. said...

I hate first drafts too! In fact, I'm reading blogs now instead of writing one. Sigh.

Congrats to your son! The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, eh?