Thursday, 21 May 2009

New mantra: splurge then fix

I have embarked upon a private 'WriMoFoFo' (Write more for four) this week, with the aid of a fancy spreadsheet devised by one of the members of my writing group. Essentially you input the word counts into the right spot and out pops calculations of a) total numwords, b) average numwords, c) words left (out of 15,000), d) percent complete, e) how many words required the next day to maintain target.

I was lagging behind a bit, so decided to try a different approach. Since I am rewriting, this involves a combination of editing and writing completely new words. For the new words part, I am very slow and it's hard to meet the quota. So I decided to try the whole splurge technique, which is the normal approach for NaNoWriMo (national novel writers month, which requires you to write 50,000 words in a month or approx 1700 words per day -- eek!). Our WriMoFoFo targets are more modest than this, but nevertheless for me to write the required almost-4,000 words per week, I still need the proverbial tailwind.

So, back to splurging. Tonight I had a few interruptions, so didn't get to my novel until after 10. Perfect. Time was now at a premium (and my target was 536). This doesn't sound very many, but the way I write it can take up to three hours. But not tonight.

Tonight I decided to try the "splurge and fix" technique. This is a technique invented by me on my way home from work today. I was walking and pondering the story, trying to get into the zone so I could hit the ground running. And I hit on the notion that if only I could splurge out 500 crap words quickly, I could then go back and edit them, thereby meeting the criteria of both volume and quality.

So this I did. I worked out what was going to happen 'tonight' (in the scene) and splurged for an hour. This yielded almost 900 words. EXCELLENT! By the time I edit, they will probably be closer to the 500 required words, but this seemed to be a productive method for at least getting the words down.

This splurging is something I need to practice big time. One can simply not afford to spend 3 years labouring over a first draft which is then largely rewritten. Stupidity. So I am going to try to hone my skill in splurging over the next few weeks (my practice WriMoFoFo) and maybe it will pay off!

PS - Actually I don't think I invented this technique at all. I think it's what normal writers do.

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