A number of years ago, I mentioned following along with Shawn Smucker’s The Making of a Story. I found his encouragement and honesty refreshing, and it inspired me in my own writing journey. This year, he’s doing something similar—but this time in video format. Again, I’m inspired.
Over the years, I’ve written a lot. Starting with short stories in my school years, I soon progressed to novels, and although I haven’t gotten a huge number of those under my belt (I think I’m up around five by now, including a collection of short stories), I feel like I’ve learned some of the necessary rules around how to write. How to take what’s in my head and put it onto paper, how to figure out my stories, and string them together to make some sense, and, perhaps, something about how to plan them. I’ve got heaps to learn there, but as far as writing goes—as far as getting the first draft down—I feel like I’ve made good progress learning the craft.
But editing. Oh, editing is my nemesis. Some people love it, and hate the first draft experience—give me a first draft any day, and I’ll happily plug away at that for months, or years, if need be!
So . . . I’ve decided to try to tackle this enemy of mine. I’m joining the Author Olympics again this year. They’ve been going for several years, and this group of writers is super encouraging and inspiring! My goal for these next two weeks is to try to make a significant dent in one of my first drafts.
Yesterday, I pulled out an old draft to begin working on it. And today, I thought it would be fun to share with you my writing journal entry from yesterday. Welcome to this writer’s life!
Monday, 8 February – Day 1
Current Draft: Garland of Praise
Starting word count: 46,304 words
Today’s Author Olympics Goals:
- Bronze: spend 30 min. editing
- Silver: spend 1 hr. editing (finished with silver)
- Gold: spend 1 1/2 hr. editing
Up to this point, I have learned how to successfully write stories—what it takes to sit down, chase the muse, and find a way to put what’s in my head onto the page.
Today, and for the next month, I am attempting to do the opposite with God’s help—I will be practicing taking what has already been written, and polishing it up into something worthy of sharing with others.
To be honest, it’s a daunting process. I’m planning on only giving myself one day at a time to look at it—one moment at a time, if need be, otherwise I will get too bogged down in details and fear of what might happen if I don’t get it right. “There’s always a third and fourth draft,” I tell myself frequently. “You don’t have to get it absolutely perfect the first time.”
I think one thing I dread is getting to the point where I’ve seen other writers—ones who have not published much—get mired in drafts 16 or 17 layers deep. That seems like the worst of all possibilities to me. I don’t want to go there.
But I also dread not doing enough. Lord, give me wisdom.
Today, I’m going to be pulling all the old writings out of my folders, and compiling them into a new file dedicated to the project. Once done, I’ll update the current word count number at the top of this entry. While that isn’t a direct indication of what’s going on in the draft, in the longrung, I think it will be a helpful metric to see how I’m doing overall.
This story was written over a longer period than I remembered initially. I started writing in September 2018 and finished in July 2019. My impression of the work was that it took 3-4 months to complete, but obviously, I was wrong. I also believe this is one of the most-brainstormed stories I have ever written. Aside from perhaps my most recent novel, this short story had several weeks of preparation before I ever started writing the first draft. Due to the length of time from start to finish, and the fact that I typically wrote only 1-200 words per day on the project, I’m sure I’ll find plenty of loopholes, missing information, and scenes that don’t need to be there.
After collating all the different bits of this story, I’m planning to read through it in its entirety, taking notes as I go as to what I think needs to be done to it. If I have any ideas for how to improve or tighten the story, I’ll jot those down too. I’m expecting this process to take several days in and of itself.
So far, I’m feeling optimistic. From my memory, this is one of the better stories I’ve written—keeping my attention up until I got to the end—and it’s also one of the tighter ones I’ve done. We’ll see if memory holds true! If it does, this may not require as much work as some of the other drafts!
Well, we’ll see how it goes from here. I was hoping to get to editing today—and expected I would yesterday—but several unexpected things happened today, so that didn’t happen. And tomorrow, I’ve got work, with company coming in the evening, so we’ll see if I can squeeze any time in.
What creative pursuits are you trying to incorporate more into your life? What could you deliberately be working on practicing now, even if it’s hard?