In Years 1 and 2 of Nano, I hit 50K on Day 19. I could pull back to a saner pace for the rest of the month.
My completion goal, I estimated to be around 100K in Year 1 and 85K in Year 2, so I still had plenty of work ahead of me, but I set a goal and I met it. And there’s no feeling like it. Year 3, knew I’d be 100K or more, so I slowed down to a saner pace. I found a good stopping point, put it away for awhile, and then went back to work on it. I had to do a great deal of ripping apart and restructuring, especially once I realized it was actually a trilogy. It was worth it.
Year 4, the mystery’s goal was around 90K. After I hit the 50K and was dealing with my grandmother’s death, I put it away. I took it out again several times, but there were bad memories associated with it. I finally created a false, temporary ending so it wouldn’t drain creative energy, and I could move on. Someday I might rewrite it. It’s definitely helped me in the mysteries I’ve written since. I have to accept the fact that it might be one of the books that stays in the drawer.
This year, for Tandem Nano, my goal is simply to write as much steadily as I can on the ongoing novel — respecting its pace. I doubt it will be 50 K. More like 30K. The final book will be 92-95K, maybe more, and I expect to have to do some deep cuts in revisions. For the new mystery, my goal is to hit 50K during the Nano month, and then continue until it’s done — I’m figuring between 75 and 90K.
That’s part of finishing a draft – not only are you forced to ask yourself questions and turn your process inside out, you make writing a priority. You make a commitment, not just to the work, but yourself, and you stick to it. You stop treating it as a hobby, and treat it – and yourself – with respect.
When you respect yourself, others respect you.
How did I do it?
–I sat down and wrote every day. If I anticipated a day would be stressful, I worked ahead of my goal the day before. I took off two days consciously, in order to come back refreshed. I didn’t just let them go.
–I trusted my characters and tried not to control everything to the nth degree. I let it happen instead of trying to make it happen.
–I did not worry about what “others” would think of the work, or care what a potential editor or reader would say. This is a first draft. This is for me, not for anyone else. Future drafts are shaped with an eye to “other”, but unless it’s on the page in the first place, it can’t be shaped and it certainly can’t be sold.
–I wanted it badly enough to do whatever it took to finish. Again, you ask yourself “How badly do I want this?”, you answer, and you make your decisions from there. You are the only one who can decide where the writing fits into your life. There never IS time. You MAKE time.
Come Write In! at the Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St., Marstons Mills.
Tuesdays 11-1, Thursdays 2-4 during November.