I thought today it would be interesting to take a look at my manuscript and explain about printing and storing it as I work my way through my first draft. I’ve talked about my Writing Notebook before and I am still using that to capture details of each day’s writing. In the photo you can see a longer handwritten session which I did over the weekend; the images I have stuck in were used as inspiration. I am slowly coming round to the idea of using this (or a) notebook to house character details and occasional photos of people, places and items which I am drawing on as I write my novel. We’ll see if anything comes of that.
However, I was going to talk about the manuscript. As I am typing the novel directly into Scrivener it’s pretty easy to print out my work at the end of each session. Sometimes I skip that, if I’m not feeling in the mood, if it’s late, if the printer is out of paper, but generally I like to print out what I’ve just written. I don’t read it; just print it out, punch holes, and store it ready for my read-through when the draft is done.
Way back when I started the novel I used to print it out one page per A4 sheet, but after I while I found that printing two pages to a sheet just feels more like I’m looking at the pages of a book. I print single-sided, so when I do my read-through I will have plenty of space to make notes. Scrivener has many options for printing ‘proper’ manuscripts when it comes to that point, but I feel for my own use, in the initial draft stage, that I don’t need it to be fully formatted as if it’s just off to the printer. Of course, when I’ve finished my first draft I might decide that I do want it properly formatted for my read-through and if I do I will print out a fresh copy in its entirety.
I’m storing the printed manuscript in a Plus Zero Max expanding card file. This has an expanding spine which means it can neatly house up to 800 sheets of paper without becoming over-stuffed and losing its integrity or stability. The prong mechanism that holds the sheets in place is lovely to use, secure when closed and easy to operate to add sheets. Oh, how blissful life would have been in many of the offices I’ve worked in if we could have used files like this instead of the generic ones with the spiral spring that everyone would fill way past their capacity and which would then disintegrate at the least opportune moment. Having said that, I do have to note that 800 sheets is far too much to put into any one file, no matter how sturdy and stable the design. You can’t lift 800 sheets comfortably without your wrists complaining. You know how hand and wrist pain is always blamed on the use of keyboards? Well, someone should look at having to manipulate files full of paper too, because that has caused me some issues in my time. Of course, there’s less of that sort of work around now, more’s the pity.
Anyway, back to my manuscript. When I’ve printed out all the pages for a chapter, I stick a Post-It note on the edge (it’s okay, they are actually Post-It notes, not some other brand) and write the chapter number in pencil. As I go, I’m filing with the latest pages to the top, but before the read-through I’m going to put the chapters into book order.
So, where am with my manuscript right now? As the title of this post says, I’ve hit the 80,000 words mark and things are coming along very nicely. I wrote pretty consistently through last week, didn’t quite manage 5,000 words during the week, but came close. In fact, most evenings I stopped even though I could easily have carried on and that was a matter of choice. I’m not feeling any urge to rush the story right now and so I stop when I come to a natural place to break for the day. Perhaps I am afraid if I push myself too hard I will get discouraged and give up so instead I am letting the story dictate the pace at which I write. Perhaps I am just relishing the process.
Now it’s the start of a new week and I hope to have around 85,000 words written by the end of the week. At this pace, it means that we are probably looking at about another month of writing to complete my first draft. That is quite a scary thought.