Permission to Plan: Secrets to Writing a Second Draft

With what combination of thinking and doing did you learn to ride a bike?Sitting in our local green cafe the other day with author Dorothy Hearst. My brain and my storyteller were, as usual, wrestling for control over this novel revision. I was doing some fruitful planning and feeling the need to get my bearings with this new plot, new character arc, and so forth, but also worrying because I’d made this commitment to write 1000 words/ day on the novel.

“Writing about the novel counts toward the 1000 words,” Dorothy said. She’d been charting and process options for days and was ready, just that day, to return to the writing. But she’d never stopped. That was her point.

Perhaps I could have integrated my brain and my storyteller right then. I’d be unstoppable, really, if they could only work together better. But in fact, I did write about 500 words of scene, and produced something unexpected and exciting that actually taught me something about what I was up to, also. And then I did a bunch of exercises and wrote the rest of my words, and then some, about the novel.

Now I’m on vacation. I really wanted to keep the writing going throughout driving with the two toddlers (and Angie) to Santa Barbara, and though the family festivities. But instead, I am going to have to step it up, hard, when I get back. I am on deadline. That’s the second secret offered up in today’s blog.

Secrets to writing the second draft, summary:

1) Writing about the novel counts as writing. But only so much. Then you have to get back in there and see what happens.

2) Writing for a deadline that matters to you will make the wishy-washiness of your daily options give way to the force of that looming hard stop.


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