Back in November, I started writing a brand new novel from scratch. At the time, I had a few different writing on-going projects that I was working on, but I decided to follow the NanoWrimo Rules (National Novel Writing Month) and I just started writing. I aimed for 1,500 words a day and usually came up short. By the end of the month instead of being at 50,000 words, I lingered just above 25,000. So, I made it halfway. Even though I didn’t hit the 50,000 word mark, I didn’t write this off as a failure. I was proud of myself for composing 50 single spaced pages of original fiction.
After November was over, I kept working on the same story that I’d started. I hoped to maintain a 1,000 words a day goal, but, as expected, fell short. It’s not that I wasn’t able to write 1,000 words a day, it’s just that I’d either write 1,000 words or 0 words a day. I was only actually writing for 1-2 days a week, not 5-7 as I’d hoped. And so, come December, I checked in and set a new ambitious timeline:
- 50,000 words by the end of January,
- First round of edits by the end of March,
- Second round of edits by the end of June (we’re moving in there so I’m giving myself some extra time)
- Query letter written by July 31
- All materials/agent contacts formulated in excel sheet by August 31
- Submit my manuscript by September 30
I was convinced that I would have a complete draft by the end of January, a complete edited draft by now, and that I’d be ready to write my query letter by the end of this month. Well, I’m not there. In fact, I’m still under the 50,000 word mark, but I’m close!
As of today, July 17, I’m at 47,240 words or 88 single spaced typed pages. I’m not where I wanted to be, and I’m beginning to think it’s going to take more than 50,000 words to wrap up the plot, but I’m SO CLOSE to a complete draft. I have a rough outline to carry me through, and now I’m just filling in. It’s no where near perfect, but it’s something. I’m writing. And I want to keep writing.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from all of this is something Bret told me from the very beginning. Don’t aim to write 1,000 words a day, aim to write something. If I just say, okay, I’m going to open up my laptop and write a paragraph, that usually ends up being a page or two, or more. And one paragraph a day would really add up if I would just do it consistently.It’s so true. For the past week or so I’ve been back on track: waking up early, working on my novel for about an hour, and then I’ve even come over here and written a blog post. It’s such a good routine!
I took a peak at the timeline I built in January this morning, knowing that I’d need to revise my goals. I still want to get my manuscript in before this next round of NanoWrimo starts, so I’m revising my goals a bit:
- 50,000 words by July 31,
- First round of edits by August 30,
- Second round of edits by September 30,
- Query letter written by October 1,
- All materials/agent contacts formulated in excel sheet by October 15, and
- Submit my manuscript by October 30.
It’s ambitious. But I still think it’s do-able. I may fall short, but I still want to try.
In addition to making a point to write even the smallest bit every day, the other take-away I’ve learned during this process is how important it is to be proud of what I’ve accomplished instead of focusing on how I fell short. No, I didn’t write 50,000 words in a month. I’m still proud of myself. I was proud of myself for writing 3,709 words in two days, and I’m proud of myself for writing 47,240 words in 8 months. It’s a slower pace than I’d hoped for, but it’s progress, and quite frankly, I’ve wanted to write a novel since I was 8, and I’ve made more progress in the past 8 months than I made in 20 years.
Here’s hoping I can finish this draft by the end of the month!