Dictionary.com definitions of drivel:
1. saliva flowing from the mouth, or mucus from the nose; slaver.
2. childish, silly, or meaningless talk or thinking; nonsense; twaddle.
When my I committed to my ROW80 goal at the beginning of April, my stated aim was to write 40,000 words of my novel-in-progress by July 1, what I estimate I need to finish a first draft.
I have never written this way before: full steam ahead, plowing onward, plunging into the abyss, charging forth, a full-court press—however you might want to describe moving forward relentlessly without much regard to quality.
In other words, I’m a virtual crap-generating machine!
In the past, my writing routine included spending the first half of each day’s allotted time editing the previous day’s work before writing new material. Now, on my way to the goal, there’s no editing (well, maybe a tiny bit, now and then, when I just can’t help it.)
This approach has turned out to be both immensely satisfying and immensely anxiety-provoking. Satisfying because, at the end of each writing session, I tally up the word count and find myself closer to my goal. Anxiety-provoking because I hear a little voice in my head that says, “Don’t get too attached to all those words. You’ll be throwing half of them away when you go back and edit.”
But even the inevitable throwing away won’t be a bad thing. For the first time in my life I feel capable of jettisoning large passages that might not work (already I have chucked—well, cut and pasted into my save-for-some-other-time file—large sections of chapters that just didn’t fit). It’s much easier to toss a quickly scribbled passage than one I spent hours polishing until I fell in love with it simply because of how much time I’ve spent on it.
The writing-to-goal approach also has kept me writing on days when I feel, shall we say, less than inspired. In the past I might have simply stopped after a few sentences in hopes that the muse would visit again tomorrow. Now I force myself to write on. Often what comes out seems like drivel (either definition 1 or 2 will do), uninspired prose that nobody would want to read. Yet often, by the third or fourth paragraph, something shifts, and I find myself in a groove, writing on past the 500-word mark to 1,000 or more. Even if I eventually throw away the first 500 words, I never would have gotten to the good part without first wading through the crap.
So I say, three cheers for drivel. And for the shovel I’ll use to toss it away when the time comes.
What about you? Do you edit-as-you-go or all at once? And where do you shovel all that stuff that doesn’t belong in the story?