My distillation of the writing advice I have received over the years is this…
You must actually write something, then read, edit, and re-write. Keep going until you are insane or finished, or both. Repeat until you get good, and if this never happens, you were never destined to be good.
Behind any finished work there is a history of drafts, edits and re-writes. Many thousands of words are cut, many darlings are killed.
Interviews and anecdotes from various authors are useful and motivational, but they lack the specificity I am interested in. I would like to see a novel completely deconstructed into its component parts.
Exactly how many words were discarded? How many drafts were written? Did the plot change? Did the characters? The themes? How different is the finished product from the first draft?
This would be a difficult, if not impossible analysis to perform on any already-written novel and so, the obvious solution is to perform the analysis while a novel is being written, which is exactly what I am going to do. An interesting and welcome side-effect of this experiment is that I must complete a novel.
I’m going to start by bashing out a first draft, analysing the text, improving on the measuring writing output experiment.
I’ll be writing all of my first draft text in 10 minute Flowstate spurts, aiming for somewhere between 10 and 40 minutes (500 – 2000 words) a day .
This means I should be able to have a draft of around 100,000 words by the middle of 2018. Once I get there I will figure out what to do next.
You can see the in-progress experiment results here.
The code lives here.