When last I posted here I contemplated a terrible career move. I put my fingers to work because I realized it was not a joke and the conditions are favourable. The goal to finish a first draft of a novel before the money and time window starts to close. This I am taking seriously. Today, I find contemplate why this time window is being better used. And the answer is largely I said screw inspiration its time to get to work.
Don't get me wrong there was inspiration. The inspiration for the novel is ten years old. The outline grew out of some narratives of Antarctic exploration. I toyed with, and day dreamed about various aspects of the fictional universe over the years. The first chapter was started several times over the years. Forward progress was always limited. The same mistakes kept me trapped in the first chapter.
The first mistake, to proofread and revise freshly written work. This sucks the momentum out of the project. When the block you are fixing is the first chapter of many, trying to make it perfect is a waste. The full scope of the people and places in the universe is unknown, so how could you know what the perfect opening is.
Similarly I would delay because not all the technical details I needed to satisfy my intellect were filled.
The second major mistake was waiting for inspiration. Inspiration is great, a project of the scope which I am attempting is born of inspiration. The shape of the world the arc of the stories are inspired, but so much of what comes from inspiration for me are the big general things. To write a sci-fi novel Grand Big Ideas are key, but they need to be connected with the little human moments.
Now I choose to sit down everyday and write. The skeleton created by inspiration gets its flesh when put myself down to the job of connecting A to B. I am not always sitting down on fire with ideas. Often I have a sketch of what will happen next and to whom. I write it knowing it will not likely survive the rewrite and I may not even like the phrasing or style I just used, but I need to finish the draft.
So I plug a head. I choose to keep myself thinking about the people and the world. I will go for walks to clear my head, and often plot out the next 700 to 1000 words. It is a conscious choice, I fight the urge to land in a lower energy state that of not thinking about the project. I do not spend my time being inspired I am choosing to spend my energy on being creative. That choice has taken me from thinking 500 words is a good day to doing 1100 words on a regular basis.
The novel exists as a nearly 4 dimensional object in my head, with past incarnations, future revisions and the central backbone. The first draft gets written with the knowledge that it falls short of what I would wish people to read. The first draft gets written so that it can be built into a book that others will find engaging. The first draft is written with an awareness of its flaws but to keep moving I do not dwell.
There is one other thing I know about the first draft. Each new sentence expands the world, both forward into the story and back. This enrichment only comes from plowing ahead. That progress lets me tolerate the errors and shortcomings. Only by writing to the end can I loop back and make the beginning and middle fit perfectly.
Typing fast and living Cheaply.
Alexander van Houten.