Last year, I finished one first draft, and one first draft only. I wrote lots of redrafts — in 2012 I took Watching from a sixth draft to a ninth, as well as rewriting Destroying. But I did a lot of starting first drafts.
I started a novel called Rite inspired by the Rite of Spring, about ballet dancers and sacrifice and friendship and love. I got about twenty thousand words into it, if that, before realising I didn’t have time right then to finish it.
I started a novel called Isabel that I’d attempted in the past. I wrote over thirty thousand words of that during NaNoWriMo before realising that it had failed before with good reason — I don’t read enough murder mystery / crime novels to know how to write them. I wasn’t ready to write those characters or that plot. That just wasn’t the time for Isabel to happen, so I abandoned that.
I started a novel called That Was The Bus which was a huge, hilarious, Tom-Holt-meets-Douglas-Adams kind of book, but I had to abandon that one too, partly because I got quite seriously ill and wasn’t able to write for two weeks, and partly because I hadn’t planned it and I couldn’t do the concept justice (but might, one day, even though it would have immense copyright issues).
I played with the idea of a prequel to my Death and Fairies trilogy, called Forgetting, and wrote two and a half chapters before putting it aside to work on later, not because I couldn’t write it then but because other things demanded my attention.
I basically abandoned a lot of things.
And I binge-wrote. Most certainly I did that. During November alone, I wrote 200,000 words — more than I’d written the whole of the rest of the year. After that, I felt completely drained, with no energy for writing, and yet … I wanted to. But I couldn’t. I’d used up my creative power, and that was that. I spent December writing background notes and the abandoned prequel opening chapters, because I didn’t have any brain power to think up another story.
In 2013, I decided I was not going to binge-write. NaNoWriMo be damned, I was not going to use all my writing energy in one month and then spent the months after it going through a creative drought. I signed up to WriYe, set a yearly goal of 350k (which I later changed to 500k), and decided that I was going to write every day. For the whole year. I was going to write over forty thousand words every month, and I wasn’t going to take long periods of time off writing.
It’s April now, and I’m beginning to wonder if binge writing maybe suits me better.
Because the thing about writing every day is that I don’t treat it like a job where I get holidays and weekends — I write every day, Saturday and Sunday included. And even if I occasionally miss my wordcount, I still try and write every day.
My creative brain never gets to stop. My words brain never gets a rest. That part of me is always working, always thinking, and it doesn’t get a day off.
I gave it Easter Sunday off. Partly because I felt it was needed, partly because it was the day before April’s Camp NaNoWriMo in which I’d decided to participate (mainly as an aid to WriYe, not as a challenge in and of itself), and partly because I just didn’t have the energy to write anything else.
Binge writing probably isn’t as productive as slowly slugging it out over a long period of time, and it certainly isn’t a habit that lends itself to become a full-time writer, but I’m beginning to think it has its benefits. What my brain wants right now, more than anything else, is a break.
I’m not giving it one. Partly because I’m nearly finished with my current novel, and if I stop now it’ll never get done. I’m determined to finish it: I want to reach the end. But partly because if I stop, I know it’ll be hard to start again.
Slowing down, though. That’s allowed. I wrote nearly eighty thousand words in February. I’m 73k ahead of my WriYe target already. I don’t need to beat it, I just need to meet it. I keep telling myself this: 1507 words per day. Not 3000. Just 1507. And then you can stop.
I need to learn to stop. I need to learn to say, “Okay, that’s enough,” and not to overwork my brain. I kid myself that I’m not binge-writing if I do it all the time, but I am. I’m just never stopping. Writing 80k in a month is still writing 80k in a month, even if I do it three months running, and sooner or later I’ll burn out.
So, I’m slowing down. I’m saying it here so that you keep me to it. Oh, and I’m going to actually try and blog regularly, too. I might be writing words, but none of them are going here, and they probably should.
How about you, readers? Do you binge write? Do you start novels and abandon them?