It's the last day of 2016, and folks are getting their resolutions ready. I have a confession. I am a binge writer. I try very hard to write every day, but I don't always work on my current WIP (work in progress). I write on weekends, holidays, vacations, and during lunch. Life and my day job get in the way sometimes. I write something every day, but it's often blog posts, marketing materials, or guest blogs/interview questionnaires (or performance evaluations, executive summaries, or project proposals).
When I start a new short story or novel, I try to keep working on that project until I have a solid first draft. I start out as a plotter with an outline (that's often color-coded), then as I write, I turn into a pantser (one who writes by the seat of her pants). I tend to go where the story and characters take me.
I don't revise it until the first draft is completed. My friend Mary Burton calls this the "sloppy copy," and it is. I comb through a printed copy for plot and grammatical errors. I also look for other inconsistencies. When I'm done, I change the view in Microsoft Word to 25%, and I look at chapter lengths to make sure that none are too short or too long. Then I reread the last paragraph of each chapter to make sure it compels the reader to keep reading after her bedtime. I learned long ago that you don't want to provide the reader with a convenient stopping place. There needs to be a reason to turn the page.
After my third or fourth draft, I'm ready to submit it to my critique group. They're all mystery readers and writers. I admire the folks in this group who can submit fifty pages and continue to write the manuscript. I like to have the whole novel or story drafted before I submit it.
I then submit the manuscript to a private line editor. She also reads a lot of mysteries, so I appreciate her insight. When those revisions are done and I've checked it one last time, the work is ready for submission.
I've read a lot of "how to write" books and blogs over the years, and I know that I should write every day. I an envious of those who have a word count goal and stick to it. But I've come to the realization that I have to use the style and techniques that work for me. So for now, I write when I can. Sometimes, I take a break to network, learn new things, do marketing, or have an adventure. But even if I'm not writing, I find something interesting that I add to my idea file - bits of dialogue, character names, setting ideas, and interesting places to hide a body.
So figure out what your style is and what helps you meet your goals and deadlines. Other writers' ideas are great. Try them, but if they don't fit your style, try something else.
Are there any other binge writers out there? Happy writing and happy New Year!