One of my goals for this Spring Break is to get a really large chunk of words down on the current book in progress, enough so that even if I don't have a zero draft by the time classes start up again next week, I'll be close.
The thing is, I'm crap at first drafts.
That's not false modesty, it's just accurate. It's something I've learned to be okay with. I wasn't always, and believe me, my writing process is a lot more mentally healthy now that I've given myself permission to be rubbish the first time around so that I can get it right later.
I mean, this draft. There's a major plot point, that's been there from the beginning - it's the opening event! - and I've now resolved it, and I still haven't figured out how it happened in the first place. This morning's shower was the first time that I started to have a clue. There's a character who has been written in, and written out, and written back in under a new name, and is now probably going to come back in under his own name and require a double in the other Court. Another character has been waiting just off the page, as have the ceiling crocodiles. Major alliances have changed, and I suspect there is still one more traitor to be found. Because this is alt-history, and alt-history at a pivot point, there are major historical threads I have to decide whether to use or ignore. And once I'm using them, I need to decide exactly how historical to keep them.
I have a lot of bracket notes, my notebooks are swollen with post-its, and there are so many scenes that are simply sketches or conversations in white rooms that I strongly suspect the zero draft (of what is an epic fantasy, mind you) is going to come in at about 50K. Which is approximately the length of one of GRRM's prologues.
I'm oddly fine with this. (Which is one of the ways I know I'm close to having a draft. The voice of the Dreaded Middle - the one that constantly reminds you that this is flat, and boring, and overdone, and that you should do everyone a favor and stop writing now - has been replaced by the downhill careen of Explosions and Resolutions.) Because while I know I'm not great at writing the zero draft, I am good at thinking it. So I know that the things I couldn't quite get down on paper are actually floating around somewhere in my brain. And I am great at revision.
But you don't get to revise until there are words on the page.