I didn’t write a single word yesterday. Between preparing for Halloween, soccer games, Craig’s birthday, and the fact the poor man came down with the flu, there wasn’t any time. Luckily I’m still 945 words in the black due to several good days this week. I’m sitting down to write right now, so we’ll see how that goes. Kids are on the loose and Craig’s too down in the dumps to do much, but we’ll get done what we can.
I wrote 5287 words yesterday, bringing my total to 77,721 words and putting me 3687 words over my goal. And I’m going to need every last one of those words.
The last 4 writing days of my challenge are a Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Halloween. Weekends have been difficult for me to get writing time in (and it’s my husband’s birthday!), though I should have a little so it won’t be a total loss (as far as word count goes), Monday is the day I spend the morning with my kindergarteners, but I will have from about 11am until 3pm, so once again I should get some words in, and Halloween, well, I’m room mom for two different parties and I’ll be taking the kids trick-or-treating, so Tuesday I probably won’t get a single word in until after 9pm.
So basically I think it’s totally possible I won’t reach my goal of 85k by midnight on Tuesday. And no, I’m not staying up late to do it. It’s just not that important. In fact, my real goal was to have a completed novel by that time and it’s looking more and more like I won’t have that done either. There’s still too much ground to cover.
And of course there’s this nagging worry that it is too long already and I’ve forgotten things that the story needs so I have more pages to write within the first 77k. *deep sigh* I’m not unaccustomed to editing, cutting, and adding where needed. I’ve had to cut my darlings before. But the prospect is disheartening. I’m not sure I can do what I want with this novel if I have to cut too much.
Anyway, I’ll be working hard this weekend to keep up with my goal, but I’ll also be spending time with my family. So have a good weekend!
Today I wrote 4899 words, my total is 72,434 and I am 1142 over my goal.
I was stuck for a little bit today, not sure exactly where I should go next, so I took a moment to fold laundry. Not exciting, I know, but sometimes it is useful to step away from the work and get your mind straight before you continue.
Obviously it worked. I had my goal by 3pm this afternoon, but then I had a little time before bed and the words were flowing well so I continued. I have to do some shopping tomorrow, so it’s a good thing I have a little padding in case I don’t get a lot of time to write.
I wrote 1655 words today, bringing my total to 67,535. I am 1015 words behind schedule.
So today I had a sick kid at home and a kindergarten activity to attend. Basically, my writing time was very limited, but I’m hoping everything will be back to normal tomorrow and I can make up the deficit.
One thing that happened today—which I advise any writer to try to avoid—is that I clicked on an idea board for a story concept I began a while ago. I was already thinking about my current WIP, so I put it on the way back burner after starting the board. Looking at it was a really bad idea because now I’m having thoughts and the pictures I pinned are so gorgeous and evocative and I’m remembering now what I wanted to do with that book and . . .
But no! That’s why it’s such a bad idea. Those ideas can creep in and distract you from what you are supposed to be working on. Hopefully I can keep those glorious pictures out of my mind!
Today I wrote 3246 words, my running total is 56,468 and I am 1628 ahead of my goal. I was really happy to get some extra words into today since the weekend starts tomorrow which means less writing time. I was also surprised because I had a sick little one at home, but he was pretty happy watching cartoons with occasional story breaks so we worked pretty well together.
But I did run into a little snag today with the WIP. I realized that I might not have the chapters in the correct order. This is the first novel I’ve written where the sequence of events wasn’t pretty much set in stone before I began to write. This is a bit of a different animal in that while each event informs the next, with some exceptions they can be interchanged to create the best story possible.
So I could stop what I’m doing, work on the outline to determine the best order, rearrange the chapters I’ve already written and plan the chapters yet to write, then come back at it. I’m not saying I won’t take some time to do that if I can, but in the interest of completing this challenge and maintaining word count, I can’t go back. If I meet my word count for the day and I can spend extra time trying to figure out my outline and correct order of chapters I will. But if I don’t have that time, I’m focusing on getting the novel done.
Once again this is about plowing through to the end on this NaNo-style approach. If I were taking an edit-as-you-go approach it would make a lot of sense to re-order the chapters as needed. One thing I have found helpful while writing to finish and not perfect is to keep a running list of things I might need to fix. It’s easy to see as I’m writing how I forgot to mention something in a previous chapter, or I made a decision in Chapter 15 that affects what I wrote in Chapters 7,8, & 9. I could go back, but that inhibits progress. It’s better for me to just write it down so I don’t forget and address it later.
Today I wrote 3500 words. My total is 53,222 which is 1124 over my target. Hopefully I can get even more written tomorrow. The weekends are so hard to get words on the page that if I can bank a few during the week I might not get so far behind.
I had a moment today where I simply hated this WIP. It’s too long. There are too many characters. There are so many plot points and they need to be connected into an inevitable trail of a story. This afternoon it didn’t feel like I could do that. So I drove to the store, grabbed a Coke and an indecent amount of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and went back to it.
Maybe it was the chocolate. Maybe it was the caffeine, but I reminded myself that this is a 1st draft. They are supposed to be horrible. True, this may be the worst 1st draft I have ever written, but the goal here isn’t to create a perfect novel. It’s to give me something to work with with.
So I plowed through the doubts. I decided not to think about all the words and characters I may have to cut in the end. That’s all for the editing. And no matter if you take the NaNo-approach of get it on the paper and edit later, or the edit while you draft approach that allows for less editing time later, you need to remind yourself that it does not have to be perfect. It shouldn’t be perfect. Don’t let yourself get bogged down in the doubts of how good it is. Just get it done and fix it later.
I wrote 3618 words today, putting my running total at 47,567 and I am 953 words ahead of schedule. Considering I’m helping with Pumpkin Day with 23 kindergarteners, it’s probably a good thing I have a few words to pad tomorrow with!
Today I found the words were flowing pretty well. I’m still not satisfied with the quality of the words, but they were flying out of my fingers and onto the page, so I can’t complain. And though I could have stopped earlier because I’d achieved my goal for the day, it seemed like a great idea to keep going when I had momentum. If the words aren’t coming, it’s okay to walk away and give yourself a break. But if they are, sometimes it’s a good idea to keep it going.
I wrote 2817 words today, meeting my daily goal and more than maintaining my total goal. I’m at 43,949 words, which is 77 words over. I could have written for another half and hour today, or I could be writing right now after the kids go to bed, but two things stopped me:
- I wasn’t mentally prepared to write the next chapter. I could do it, but it will be a better written chapter after I have tonight to think about it first.
- I was at a good stopping point and I need to think about dinner plans, packing for swim practice, making sure we could get homework done. In short, I will be a better writer if I also take care of my life. It’s called self-care. If day-to-day is in order, I can concentrate more effectively on my imaginary worlds.
But I did want to talk about something else tonight: time. Not in the context of how we have to manage our time in order to be a writer, and often be other things like parent, spouse, co-worker, friend, child, etc. We have jobs, relationships, volunteer activities, and hobbies that take our time too. But more in the context of how much time it takes to write a novel.
I’ve heard the iceberg analogy used to describe novels referring to the fact that if you’re a good writer the reader will only see the tip of the iceberg when it comes to plot, world building, character development, etc. of your novel. But I think that translates to time as well.
The amount of time it takes to write a novel, including 1st draft, editing, critiques, and polished MS is merely a fraction of the time an author spends on that book. There’s day dreaming, fantasizing, plotting, writing down every snippet of thought you have on the novel. There’s research and Pinterest for inspiration. There’s character questionnaires and more day dreaming, and more plotting. There’s more research and thinking of names for every person, place, and thing you come across. I think about my novels while I’m driving, jogging, doing the dishes, folding laundry, trying to go to sleep, failing to go to sleep. In essence, I always have one portion of my brain in that novel. It never turns off.
So I guess my point it is, it is immensely satisfying to see THE END on a finished MS, and I hope to find out how it feels to hold a published book in my hand as well, but that electronic file or hardcover book is a misleading quantifier to anyone who doesn’t write. Because we’d need an ocean of pages in comparison to really demonstrate the blood, sweat, and tears we’ve given to our books.
This post is coming a little late because I was up until 11pm finishing my words. Weekends are a terrible time to get writing done and I might make an adjustment to a writing challenge in the future to write more words on weekdays, and not expect anything or very little of myself on the weekends. Of course, I’m struggling to make word counts on weekdays too, but I’m trying to remind myself that I set myself a huge task to finish 85k words in 31 days, so I shouldn’t be too down if I’m having trouble achieving that.
But I did hit my goal yesterday, despite spending almost the whole day driving to IKEA and shopping for cabinets for the kitchen. I wrote 3000 words, making up for the deficit the day before. I’m 2 words in the black again! 2 words isn’t a lot, but hey, I’ll take it.
I’m looking at my outline and I’m about 3/8 through the list. Yes, I actually figured it out in 1/8 freactions. I’m like that. But I’m at 41k words. Quick math says I might expect this novel to be 109k words. Um, that’s a bit long for YA, especially when I already feel like I’ll have to go back and add descriptions and emotion. So I’m a little nervous about how this is going to turn out. (Also, I won’t be finishing 109k in 31 days. Just not going to happen.)
It’s an arbitrary number of course. There’s no telling how many words each plot point needs to tell it, so I could start flying through the outline as I get closer to the end. Or it could be twice the expected word count. I just don’t know. Either way, this whole concept is going to need some work. I’m writing every scene, every subplot I came up with along the way. And of course more are popping up all the time. But I just want to get the story on paper and see what needs to be cut later.
I wrote 2453 words today, but I’m back in the red by 256 words. It’s okay though. I stopped writing at 10pm at night at the end of a chapter and I just knew I wasn’t going to put anything worth keeping on the page. It was the end of what I could produce for the night and there was no point in putting crap on the page.
To be honest, a lot of what I wrote today felt like crap. But days like that are something you have to push through when you’re attempting a writing challenge like this. Just get it out and accept that you are going to have to fix a lot of stuff later.
But it’s also making me look forward to trying a different writing style after this WIP. I’m going to give it a break before I do the major editing. I’m going to let it breathe. And let myself breathe. And the next book I plan on taking a different approach. I’m going to take my time, enjoy the experience and try for higher quality per day as compared to quantity each day.
There’s nothing about either method that makes one more valuable than the other. Sometimes it’s the individual writer that determines the value in the method that’s best for them. For me, I can work both ways, but I want to continue to try both versions (and a mix of those methods) as I continue to grow as a writer.