First, what I have done right is blast out 40,000 words in 20 days putting me ahead of schedule and confident of hitting the goal. Interestingly, at least to me, I think 50,000 words will be all the story needs; that is, this one will be novella length and probably less than 50,000 when revised and edited.
So, what have I ‘done wrong’ to maintain this speed?
Used lazy cliched expressions; I haven’t quite sunk to ‘speaking through clenched teeth’ or ‘the clouds were like fluffy white sheep gambolling in the sky’, but I’ve given the cliche tree a good shake.
Sprayed adverbs like a child with a can of paint on a white wall – the school of ‘she crept slowly and quietly along the dark and gloomy lane, the trees hanging limply – ‘ well, you get the idea. Sure keeps up the word count!
Instead of hesitating whether ‘resolved’ or ‘decided’ is the most appropriate word and getting sidetracked in the process, I write ‘thought’ and hurry onwards. Revision comes later.
When arriving at a complex plot point, instead of hesitating etc as above, I think of any dramatic development and hurry onwards as above etc. I killed off a main character yesterday, much to my surprise and you know what, it works. If I’d pondered and procrastinated, I suspect I would not have done so and the novel would be the poorer for it.
Finally, it brings back the good old days when I wrote my PhD at top speed to crazy deadlines after three years of surfing and partying instead of doing much actual research. A much maligned skill which appears to have lasted a lifetime!
All’s well that ends well as an actual great writer once said.
yes, l am writing the sequel to my second draft completed and much more work to do novel manuscript. Bizarre, no? Not really.
1. I need distance and time away from my manuscript of 78000 words while I decide whether to do a third draft or to send it to an assessor for independent professional assessment. Writing a novel in a month, the infamous NaNoWriMo exercise, gives me time to reflect.
2. Maybe as important I have had the sequel in mind since early this year; sitting at my computer, sometimes the words flowing and feeling right and other times squeezing out words like dead flies accumulating against a window pane on a hot summer day in Australia. Inspiration struck on how I could continue their story and make my key characters suffer and suffer. Like every writing workshop tells us, right? Make them suffer! Oh trust me, they suffer for their love.
3. So, Tom and Anika are back! Spoiler alert: now you know they survive what is thrown at them on the Camino as they struggle in the maelstrom of murders. Ah, but you do not yet know how they survive and I agree that I have been slack or, more accurately, deliberately withholding, on that score.
3. Writing a sequel is also fun! My characters are so familiar, I know them like friends; what clothes they wear what they eat, how they talk and argue, how they walk, their little quirks and likes and dislikes and how they have aged and changed six years later as ‘the author’ puts them through their paces once again.
4. Writing 50,000 words in a month is quite exhilarating simply to rattle words on the screen without lots of prior planning and without a study full of index cards on boards or Scrivener corkboards! Totally different to my normal approach.
4 days down and 8,200 words in the bag = so far, so good.
I have decided, sober and in the cold light of day, despite much trepidation and every common sense cell in my body saying ‘no’, that I shall participate in NaNoWriMo for the first time. This is a commitment to write a 50,000 word novel draft in one month starting tomorrow. I think 300,000 wannabes took part globally last year, what could possibly go wrong? So, yes, I have to write 1500 words tomorrow morning! That is, 1,500 words ….
Why undertake such a crazy mission? It has taken me two years to have a second completed draft of 80,000 words of the current manuscript and I aim for 500-1000 words most days, so the odds do not look good.
And yet. And yet, I have reached the stage of the current manuscript where I need to put it aside for a time and let it lie fallow (one of the few things I remember from my school days, that plus ‘why sea breezes?’) as I have applied for an ASA mentorship, entered another competition and need to ‘let it go’.
And also – drum roll – I have the plot and characters and setting for ‘my next novel’, published nothing yet, but it sounds good, right? and so I do have a flying start and am, believe it or not, eager to have a go at it and see where it might lead me. By nature I am a ‘plotter’ stemming from churning out academic books and articles in my past life as a university professor, and being a ‘pantser’ will be good for me; a bit like cold showers, AFD’s, clean living and long runs in the morning are ‘good for me’.
Anyway, I am committing myself publically to keep the pressure on myself; please feel free to check on me and keep me honest. Oh and wish me luck.