Friday NaNo-Day: Discovering the Discovery Draft


It has been many long months since I have started a brand new draft with only endless brainwaves to sift through and get onto paper. Why is writing still this hard?!

Alright, alright, I’ll admit — I definitely did not expect NaNo to be a cakewalk just because I won last year. But sitting down to write every day after work has definitely been a change of pace. That’s my fault. I wanted to give myself a break after sending off the manuscript for The Warden of Everfeld: Memento. Aside from a still-unpublished short story I wrote in August and a slight increase in my RSPC posts, I haven’t done a whole lot of solid writing. I mean the sit-in-one-spot and pound out 3,000 words kind of writing… that hasn’t happened yet.

It mostly hasn’t happened because I’ve gotten myself stuck on multiple occasions already, over-thinking the placement of a sentence or the ordering of my exposition. I think I’ve covered this before, but I tend to focus too much on writing the best sentences first — I have the best sentences. I need to let go of my inner editor and write with a little more reckless abandon. But I think I’ve figured out how to do that.

Discovery Drafting!

I’ve certainly read about other writers preparing their “discovery drafts” when they start a novel. Discovery drafts are the polite name for a complete pantser draft, plowing ahead through the story with little regard for plotting or style. It’s a great way to just get your ideas on paper, which is sort of the point of NaNo.

Well, I’ve decided that every time I get stuck on a thought mid-typing, I’ll just put it in a bullet note or brackets and keep moving to the next section. I cannot understate how much willpower this will take, but I have a nasty habit of going back to fine-tune my writing anyway.

This system of note-taking as I write will allow me to narrate my own train of thought (which I do anyway… wait, I’m doing it now!) and potentially brainstorm underdeveloped ideas while keeping my fingers moving.

Is this what discovery drafting is supposed to be? I may have just made that up, but it works for me.

NaNo Progress

I am happy to say that I have pushed out 4,006 words over three consecutive days of writing for The Warden of Everfeld: Legacy. That’s pretty good considering the laziness I faced starting out, but it’s still behind NaNo’s three-day pace of 5,001 words. I’m just happy I wrote for three solid days.

Unfortunately, my current streak will end at three. This evening I will be headed up to the mountains with Future Wife and two close friends for a weekend of college football and beer consumption — can’t wait! But that also means I likely won’t touch my draft again until Saturday morning (if I’m lucky) or Sunday evening. Such is life.

How’s everyone else doing so far this NaNo?

Steve D

6 thoughts on “Friday NaNo-Day: Discovering the Discovery Draft

  1. I’ve always called that first rough pass through the content my discovery draft. I like being able to gain momentum. I feel better and better as I go, and that helps me write more effectively.

    1. I definitely feel more comfortable as I go, too. Setting the scene for the prologue – which sets the scene for the entire book – is a lot of weight to put on my first few pages, but I definitely fell into a rhythm once I stopped sweating the small stuff.

  2. This is my first visit to your blog (which was a referral from Quintessential Editor on his Friday blog.) I tell people I am a writer, but that is not entirely true. I am really an observer who writes – a typical Five on the Enneagram. It was NaNoWriMo that helped me realize this. (side note: November is also No Shaving Month – do you suppose the two connected?)
    Thank you for sharing about writing a discovery draft; it’s a very helpful strategy.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Sharon! I think all people who write are natural observers, but I totally get what you mean. Calling myself a “Writer” is still an ill-defined distinction that I’m not entirely sure I’ve earned 😛 The discovery draft is still a new concept to me too, but that’s what NaNo is for! And if NaNo and No Shave November were actually connected, I’d end up with a scraggly blonde neck-beard… 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.