I don’t map out a first draft completely.
While I enjoy the idea of increased efficiency, not much in my life is. I declutter and vacuum the same 200 sq. feet of carpet highway near my front door several times a day, spend well over an hour washing the same dishes, mutter the same utterances about inane farmyard noises at the kitchen table, and fold the exact same clothes each week. I often think the only way to sap ADHD-prone behaviour is to load as much outdoor activity into evenings, weekends, and vacations, so that by bedtime, my grateful and exhausted litter can fall asleep early and quickly. It backfires nine times out of ten. After the last bedtime book, while their heads are dancing with stories, my own thoughts want to just collapse onto the couch into flat screen illiteracy. “Oh no, I’ve said too much, haven’t said enough” (REM).
And each of my books, from first draft to final rewrite, takes years. How efficient is that?
Actually, I really don’t mind the repetitive jobs. That’s when I make mental notes or brainstorm about a character. So the kids think I’m spacey when I’m at the sink? This is where I’ve learned to recharge.
“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” ~Agatha Christie
When I sit to write, all that investment harkens back to my fingers and I experience the thrill of a journey not-so-efficiently mapped out but still full of discovery and twists of adventure off-road.
I appreciate knowing the direction of a story, but not the paths I’ll take to get there. The
joy – the euphoric bliss – in this process of exploring the unexpected is worth all the extra work later.
So how and when do you do it? Do you find joy mapping the details or in the discovery?