Carrie Butler: Carrie daydreamed her way through college—until they thrust a marketing degree into her hands, slapped a summa cum laude seal on the corner, and booted her out into a less-than-stellar job market. Instead of panicking at the prospect of unemployment, she used her Midwestern logic to steer into the skid and point her life in the direction she really wanted to go: writing out those daydreams.
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Komal Lewis: Komal Lewis is a full-time author who lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband, and one too many cats and dogs. She is overly enthusiastic about video games, comic books, Spiderman, Byronic heroes, baking, reptiles and pretty shoes.
Komal is currently working on her debut novel, Impossible, a YA Contemporary Romance about a girl who will do anything to become popular, and the rocker boy-next-door. Find her blog here.
Joe Lantz: Joe works as a substitute teacher for Ripley Central School in WNY while he works on his YA novel and waits for a permanent position as an English Language Arts teacher. He had the great fortune of being Michelle’s student teacher and the even greater fortune of developing an enduring friendship with her, which includes time spent writing in a local library. He is an avid reader and writer. He also enjoys collecting and reading comic books and graphic novels. He can also be found on blog – the one Michelle encouraged me to start – Avid Reading, Constant Writing.
Bonnie Rae: Bonnie spent her early childhood in the sunny state of California. At the time, she was an only child with a very large imagination. Thanks to her Grandmother, the love of reading books started at a very young age. Every walk to the grocery store meant an ice cream cone and a new Little Golden Book. Through books, Bonnie learned you could be transported into other worlds. The addiction was instant. At age eleven, her grandparents gave her E.B. White's Charlotte's Web for her birthday. Even though she was completely grossed out when it came to spiders (and still is), Charlotte's Web fascinated her. A spider that was able to weave words and befriend a pig? Bonnie then realized not only could books provide imaginary worlds, they confirmed anything was possible. She might have only been eleven, but she knew writing was what she wanted to do. She started her first set of novels at the age of sixteen and has been writing ever since. Bonnie currently lives in California with her wonderful husband and two very spoiled cats. Find her blog here.
Last week my wonderful writers focused on the pre-writing phase. Check that post out here. Today they are talking about their actual writing of their first draft.
Where do you find it easiest to write?
Carrie: At my desk. Have you seen my writing cave? The sacrifice was worth it!
Komal: Like Sheldon Cooper, I have my spot on the sofa. I work there for optimum results because it’s the best angle for the TV, close to the door if there’s a fire and I need to escape, and in viewing distance of the kitchen so I can keep an eye on my dogs. There is nowhere else in the house that I can focus, except there. Beware if you take my spot.
Joe: When I first started work on the manuscript, I found my bedroom was easiest to write in, but I quickly learned that I was wrong. Oh so wrong. My room is the worst place I can write. There are just way too many distractions there.
Thanks to Michelle, I find I write easiest in the library. I do very well there, typically cranking out two hours worth of solid writing during our Saturday writing meets. The summer was most productive as we met Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays to write.
When not at the library, I find that I write my easiest at home in the dining room. By far, the dining room has way fewer distractions than my room. I think it also helps that the dining room chairs are not the most comfortable to sit in for long periods of time which motivates me to focus on my writing so I can crank out two hours or more and then get the hell off those seats.
Bonnie: In my office, always. I am most comfortable there and can really get into my element.
How do you schedule yourself and then stick to that schedule?
Carrie: If I want to make a career out of writing, I need to treat it like any other job. I pick a time that works best, and I hold myself accountable.
Komal: I wake up at 6 am every day, except for when it’s my husband’s day off. After I get all the housework done, I go on the Internet and then work on my story at around 11 am. If I am writing, then I aim to write 1000-3000 words a day. If I am editing, then I try and edit 20-30 pages, and allow myself breaks when I need them. If I want a day off, then that’s okay. I’m a workaholic, though, so I am constantly thinking about my work-in-progress.
Joe: Aside from writing with Michelle on Saturday mornings, I don’t really have a set schedule. I write whenever I have free time. And honestly, writing whenever I have free time is the easiest schedule to stick to.
However, I recently set a November deadline for the first draft of my manuscript, so I most likely will attempt to set myself a more regular schedule for writing to help me reach the November goal. I foresee the schedule being something like this: Writing during all available free time and for two dedicated hours every night on top of the Saturday writing time with Michelle.
Bonnie: I don't schedule times, I schedule word counts. I set a daily goal that I need to write a day in order to finish in thirty days (first draft). So sometimes I do a morning and afternoon session. Or sometimes, depending on the muse, I will pull a whole morning or a whole afternoon. All of it really depends on when the muse flows best. But regardless, I push for my word count even if I hate everything I am writing that day. First drafts can suck, that's what they are for. I call them my learning curve drafts. But trust me there are days when nothing flows, so I take the day off. I read or blog and usually at some point get inspired and can dabble something down.
While you are writing, who, if anyone, do you include in the writing process and why? But if not, why not?
Carrie: I run first draft chapters past my sister. She’s an avid reader and is great about spotting early plot-holes.
Komal: When my husband gets home from work, I always give him a summary of what I did that day. If I am stuck on a certain part of the story, we talk through it until it’s resolved. I also have two amazing critique partners, Michelle and Erica, who give me constant help and feedback if I need it.
How do you know your first draft is complete?
Carrie: When it feels right. There’s no other way to describe it. Use those writing Spidey-senses!
Komal: I set a word count goal and aim for that. Also, I have several “main events” that I know I have to hit during the story. Once that’s done, I try to wrap it up.
Any organization strategies, apps, etc. that help you write?
Carrie: I keep a master binder of everything. Notes, maps, research, etc. (And I’m saving up to try Scrivener!)
Komal: Don’t over prepare for it. Don’t edit as you go. Let the first draft be as organic as possible. If you are stuck, try and work through it. Keep going and just get it done!
Any advice for writers about the first draft part of writing that you wish to share?
Carrie: Remember when I said not to censor your pre-writing? I’m going to add to that now. Don’t edit your first draft until it’s finished. Just plow through it.