I am anything but a binge writer. My approach is to make steady, consistent progress on a project until it’s done. Usually, that means I’m writing 1,000 words each day, six days a week. If I do that every day, I can get a 75,000 word draft done in about 3 months. It rarely works out that way, of course, because I end up ditching some of what I write, making false starts and mistakes that I have to backtrack to resolve, but it’s not too far off it. (There are sometimes when I make very big mistakes, and then it takes a month or so to get those taken care of.)
I do the 1,000 words/day routine because it helps me stay sane. I can feel like I’m on track without having to feel like the book will never be finished. Yes, I might still have 74,000 words to write, but I wrote 1,000 today, and so “I’m done.”
Friday afternoon, I had a meeting to discuss a potential book project I might be able to do. This would be different from my normal books, in that I’d essentially be writing it for a company. (It wouldn’t be ghost written. It would still have my name on it, and I’d still get royalties, but the specifics of the contract would be different.) I was very excited about the concept, but the company’s out actively looking at multiple authors for it even as we speak. They wanted to see a few sample chapters of how I would approach it. “No deadline,” they assured me. However, I also realized that if they found someone perfect before I got them any prose, then I might not even have a stab at landing the gig. So I decided to get my sample chapters done over the weekend.
(Of course, “over the weekend” in this case meant “by Saturday,” since I don’t write on Sunday as a rule, and I wasn’t willing to compromise on that one.)
Things were made even more complicated by the fact that I’d be writing something entirely new. What did the setting look like? What were the characters? How did the point of view sound? Worse yet, it was about a topic I didn’t 100% understand. (Sorry for the vagueness here. I don’t feel I’m able to go into too much detail just yet.) So I’d need to do a bunch of brainstorming as well as a ton of research. I started in on it as soon as the meeting was done Friday. By Saturday evening, I had 10,000 words written. 3 chapters that I was pretty happy with. (They’re with my agent now. We’ll see what he thinks before I tweak them some more and then send them on to the company later this week.)
So, I learned that I can write a lot of prose quickly if I have to. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I learned it takes a lot out of me. You wouldn’t think just sitting around typing would be that difficult. I mean, I do a ton of typing every day. How would this be any different?
I think it’s just the amount of focus it requires, plus the amount of creativity, that make it feel very draining. (It didn’t help that this was for a straight up horror book. There’s a part of me that wonders if it wouldn’t work better with a bit of humor thrown in, but that wasn’t necessarily something I wanted to try just yet for this part of the process. We’ll see what my agent thinks. Maybe it’ll need it. Regardless, they were some pretty intense scenes.)
Writing that much at one go will not be on my To Do list again anytime soon. It took me most of yesterday to recuperate to the point that I felt like a human being again. Could I do it? Sure. And perhaps if I worked my way up to more writing, it wouldn’t be as draining. All I know is that going from 1,000 words to 10,000 in a day was way too much, too quickly.
I have no idea if I’ll land the job on this project, but the good news is that I won’t have to second guess myself and wonder if I should have tried harder. Wish me luck!