The Constraints of Time and Underwear.

I have deliberately denied myself the luxury of time.

Will it focus the mind or panic the knickers off me?

I’d like to take a moment to consider this.


 I’m not known for spontaneous bouts of commando-ism.

This leads me seamlessly onto discussing draughts.  Sorry. Drafts.

I started the first draft of my current WIP on January 1st 2012, as part of Sally Quilford’s 100k in a 100 Days challenge, aiming to complete it by April 9th and then edit it in time for this year’s RNA NWS read. Bearing in mind my first novel took a casual three or four years to get up to submission standard, I think I have set myself quite a challenge, but I need to know what it feels like to work to a deadline. 

I hand wrote the first draft of my first novel, then painstakingly typed, edited and formatted it five times, maybe more. With my current WIP, I have gone straight to PC.

Fret not, stationery loving soul-mates; I still have ample opportunity to hand write notes, timelines and family trees, giving me enough reason to buy new notebooks and pens. 

This time, I have been learning to banish my inner editor, a tip from other writers on The Challenge, and it has been a liberating experience. I faltered at first, desperate to change everything I’d written, but I pushed on, limiting myself to highlighting those areas that need a fuller description or improved scene setting.

The further I have progressed, the more the plot and sub plots have developed and the greater the twist is becoming. There’s always a twist. As I am now following the process of ‘getting the words down’ and restraining myself from revisiting earlier chapters, I know I am saving time. Previously, I would have refined those first draft chapters before completing the story, only to change their entire content at a later stage with the subsequent development of said plot and characters.

I would like to thank the wonderful writers who issued the advice in capital letters, BANISH YOUR INNER EDITOR, as it is the most economical and structured use of my writing time. It has also enabled me to remain fully clothed when writing. The only draft around here is on paper. 

I have loved every minute of writing this way and have learned to embrace it. Yes, plenty of my first draft words will not make the final edit, but if I hadn’t written them, the rest would not have followed.

Follow me?

 What is your preferred method of first drafting?

Laura x

28 thoughts on “The Constraints of Time and Underwear.

  1. I just can’t switch off my inner editor – but I did learn to keep her in check when I wrote 5000 words one Monday (a massive total for me), then edited them all week. On Friday, I had only 2000 of them left.

    Something had to change!

    So now I begin a day’s writing by editing what I wrote in my previous session. Then I move on. The exception is when I realise something needs changing for the purposes of continuity or accommodating a new and better idea.

    • Hi Sue.
      That scenario seems familiar…..
      Having worked this ‘new’ way, I wonder how I ever completed Truth Or Dare?
      I do look over the previous day’s work, but have restricted myself to changing obvious typos or spelling mistakes and leaving notes as to what needs to be done.
      I learned such a lot from writing ToD.
      Thank you for commenting, Sue. Much appreciated. Laura x

  2. I’d find that really, really hard to do, but I can *definitely* see the merits of not going back to re-draft over and over. I did that with Gunshot Glitter. I won’t do it with the next one! I’ll try and do what you’ve done and just plough on.

    But, the thing is, with a complicated novel you have to remind yourself of what’s happening and the only way to do it is to re-read it – and then as you re-read you can’t help but see flaws and wish to correct them. To me it’s like spotting a spillage and telling yourself you’ll wipe it later as you’ve got to cook dinner for guests. How mad would that drive you??

    I guess the answer is to plotline a rough synopsis as you go along so you know the score, it sounds a bit dry to do it that way, but I suspect, in the long run, it will serve the greater good. Grr.

    • Hi Yasmin.
      You are a fab supporter – thank you. 🙂
      I’m rubbish at leaving a spillage until later, but if I had to, I would leave myself a note as a reminder to clear it up later.
      I have a notebook full of suggestions, timelines, plot developments, personality traits and family trees, but it is all over the place. I have bought myself some project books, which come with dividers, so when I have finished this WIP, I shall be more organised for the next.
      Turns out I’m a planner.
      Laura x

  3. I LOVE the idea of banishing the inner editor, for a whole host of reasons, not least that I feel that I am far too ‘close’ to the material while writing to be able to give it a proper edit. That said, I do re-read my work every morning before I continue writing. Reason one is to remind myself of what I’ve written, in broad strokes, so that I get back into the flow. Reason two is to eliminate gross typos that may jump out at me (mind: I’m not proofing at this stage, just marking up anything that does stand out). Reason three is to make a note of anything that grates or doesn’t flow well. I don’t act on those notes unless I’m really annoyed by something, but instead keep them in a pile for later consumption. I also find that I have caught the occasional inconsistency in this manner. This method works for me and I wholly advocate not diving into too deep an edit while writing is in progress; I think that can tie you into unnecassary knots. Great post, as always: I love your blog!

    • Hi Nicky – thank you for stopping by.
      This is exactly how I am now working. 🙂 I bet you have some lovely notebooks.
      Laura x

    • Hello Mama J.
      I have found it hard to break the habit of correcting and adjusting, but as I am now seeing the benefits, I am encouraged to keep ploughing, despite feeling that some of what I write is trash; sometimes trash helps us get to the good bits.
      Thank you for dropping by.
      Laura x

  4. I’ve been completely guilty at times of letting my inner editor run riot with my debut novel. Stop, start, re-read, stop, start, re-read. Like Yasmin, if I spot something when I look back over the chapters, I have to deal with it, which in turn holds me up and I end up losing the flow. I’m determined with book 2 to plough straight through to the end before I let my inner editor out of her cage 😉 Quite hard though, when it doesn’t come naturally. Definitely a lesson learned x

    • Having read other comments it has just occurred to me that if I’m having trouble getting back into my WIP, reading a few chapters really helps.

      • I need to do that, Sue. I’ve not visited my WIP for a few weeks.
        Thank you for supporting our blog.
        Laura x

    • Yo Jan!
      It is nigh on impossible, but it helps to have someone shouting ‘BANISH THE INNER EDITOR’ at you. I can do that for you 🙂
      Laura x

  5. Interesting comments. I suppose that when you first start writing you are told: polish those first three chapters if you want to attract an editor/agent’s attention. You don’t QUITE know what that means, so you do nothing else BUT polish them. Then you realise that you’re getting nowhere, but you can’t quite let go because it’s like a safety net. I think that sometimes you have to switch off the Internal Editor and just write in order to remind yourself how enjoyable and liberating it can be – then get back to the discipline (grind?) or finishing the WIP. Like Jan and Yasmin I’ve gone through the whole process of Stop, start, re-read, stop, start, re-read, edit, re-write, The next novel I’m going to write from start to finish without looking over my shoulder and then edit at the end. (she says) Oh well, onwards and upwards – an in the interests of research, I prefer to do my writing whilst wearing white broderie anglaise directoires, tied at the knee with red satin ribbon. So now you know.

    • Cheers, Lizzie 🙂 You do make me smile. I have a lovely image of you at your desk, in bloomers.
      What I found with ToD was the plot and twist changed as the story progressed, so all the stuff I’d edited and polished at the beginning, needed altering. Whilst I consider myself a planner, there is always room for change and ultimately, improvement, but from now on, I shall be leaving that until the first edit.
      Thanks for visiting.
      Laura x

  6. I was getting on really well absorbing all this useful advice until faced with Lizzie’s knickers. I’ve always appreciated attention to detail, and the red satin ribbons would obviously be the ideal finishing touch. Off to re-read a few chapters and whack out some more words before bedtime, thanks Laura and all the rest of you!

    Celia x

  7. I have struggled to finish work in the past and I think it may be because I get too bound up with planning. When I was accepted onto the New Writer’s Scheme in January I set myself a target of completing a full 70,000 word historical romance by the end of March. I had a lot of the idea in my head so instead of trying to plot I launched forth and just wrote and wrote…. and I did it!!! I now have a whole story – beginning, middle and end! It is a bit dodgy in places, and it needs a major edit, but getting to the end was a huge achievement. I am aiming to knock it into shape over this next couple of months and then submit it. Wish me luck!

    Phoebe x

    • Hello Phoebe and welcome to, well, everything 🙂

      Well done completing your first draft – it took me years to find my way. Were you emotional when you reached the end? I was.
      I understand what you mean by areas being a little dodgy, but I’m beginning to realise that for some of us, that’s how to get through the first draft.
      Get that ms submitted and good luck with it. The readers provide fantastic reports and in my experience, are usually right 🙂
      Laura x

  8. Think I’m rather stuck with that inner editor. It seems to be a part of me, and comes into operation whenever I write, irespective of whether I want it or not.

    Liz X

  9. My inner editor failed me – I missed out an r in ‘irrespective’. At least with an inner editor, I can blame that for my failure, and not me for being in too much of a hurry to click on ‘Post comment’.

    • That’s lovely, Liz 🙂 I still have an inner editor, but I have been very strict with him/her.
      Thanks for dropping in on both occasions 😉 Laura x

  10. I’m lucky – I’m a messy sod who wouldn’t wipe up the spillage and then forget all about it until a guest in a cream silk blouse plonked her elbow in it.

    This means my inner editor is bound, gagged and struggling in her swivel chair while I bang out page after page …. it means that the “tidying up” afterwards is a very long job. I do, however, really agree with having a deadline – the first draft for my first novel was prompted by the Write A Novel In a Month Contest – and no, I didn’t cheat, I did it from scratch!

    • Lol Cameron and wow! A novel in a month – well done. I’d have to shut myself in a small cave to be able to do that.
      Thank you for taking the time to comment.
      Laura x

  11. The Inner Editor is a whole new idea for me. I always like to make each chapter as perfect as possible, but I can see that in the further edits it all gets changed again. I’m one of those people who can’t stand a spillage. Clean as you go, is my motto in the kitchen and obviously in my writing. I don’t know if I’m brave enough to let go and just write. Maybe I should try! PS I’ve even edited this comment!

    • Hello, Jean. Thank you for leaving your comment.
      I edit Tweets.
      The thing with editing Tweets and comments is that what you have written is made public immediately, so it is in our best interests to check and double check. Nobody else needs to see your first draft until you’re ready to let it go.
      Laura x

  12. As well as being a very funny post and making me smile, Laura, this struck a chord.

    I am my own WORST inner editor and can’t get through any WIP without tweaking, twiddling and editing before I’ve even finished!

    There is no problem working on the first draft. It’s just the 2nd draft and any subsequent re-writes (when it gets to serious editing) that I seem to struggle with!


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