My first major writing goal of the year has been met. I wanted to have the fourth draft of my novel completed by 2/21, and I’ve brought it in four days early. I’m currently on winter break so I will likely devote the rest of my time off to putting a dent in draft five. Right now, I think draft five will be the last one. We shall see. If I don’t feel like it’s ready, I sure won’t be rushing to begin the querying process. That said, aside from a few notable things I want to update, I’m not sure continuing to fiddle with the story will add anything of value and I’ve heard that that is when it is time to stop, lest you go on tweaking until the end of time.
I’ve quite enjoyed the revision process. Getting the first draft out was like pulling teeth, but I’ve found loads of joy (okay, the kind of joy that is drizzled with frustration) in figuring out how to make that little story I wrote better. I love challenging and pushing myself.
Stats on draft four:
Word count: 82,000
Time to complete: 48 days
And just for fun… stats from draft 1:
Word count: 71,000
Time to complete: over 364 days
Goals for draft five:
Do not allow word count to exceed 83,000 (awesome if I can find a way to hack it back down to 80,000)
I’ve spent the first couple days of 2016 alternating between working on the fourth draft of my current novel and learning all I can about how to build a platform. Something definitely feels different about this draft. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent too much time reading about querying, agents, and publishers, but I think I might be working on my last draft (well, let’s be real, second to last) before I try sending my baby off into world. Perhaps it was the subconscious realization of this that led me to begin my research about what comes next in the first place. Who knows, but it sure is exciting!
Yesterday I shared two of my goals for this year, but both of them had more to do with the “build a platform” side of things. I took some time this morning to outline goals for my WIP and ended up creating a list of all the things I’d like to achieve/do (deadlines included) between today and the end of June. What can I say? I’m a goal setter through and through and if I don’t hold myself accountable, who will? Plus, I’ve gotten really good at setting realistic, acheievable goals. Everything I wrote down is 100% doable, even with the busy schedule of a teacher/coach.
Finish draft 4 by 2/21
Complete final draft and polish by 4/6
Let manuscript rest about a month. Use that time to knock some books off my reading list and think about other projects
Read and revisit manuscript by 5/8, make note of problem areas
Revise by 5/31 (the last day of school)
Use first few weeks of summer vacation to write query letters etc.
Start sending out queries, maybe participate in a Twitter Pitch Party or Pitch Wars
Of course, I could finish draft 4 and decide the whole thing needs a complete overhaul, and if that happens, it happens! I’m not going to rush the process if my book isn’t ready. Maybe I’ll work ahead of schedule, maybe I’ll be forced to push back some of my personal deadlines, but either way, I take great joy in having a plan.
I finished the first draft of my first novel about a week and a half ago. I think it’s finally set in… both the fact that I actually finished it, and the fact that I have to do something else with it. I’ve spent a good deal of time working to convince myself that what I’ve created isn’t 100% crap. Now, it may be 99% crap, but I can work with that. The big question is where to begin! This time last year I was digging up information on how to outline and get your story started. This year I have to tackle editing the first draft. Do I start with spelling, grammar, continuity, content? Do I do all of these things at once, or make several passes through? It’s pretty intimidating to look at my near-300 page stack of creative vomit and try to figure out how to polish it into something presentable. All I’ve managed to do is go on a mini office supply shopping spree.
Okay, that’s not all I’ve done… I’ve also taken all of my bookmarks for landmarks and displayed them in a shadow box. Completing a novel from start to finish was something on my bucket list (more as a challenge to myself, not an arbitrary thing to tick off a list- this writing thing is forever) and I have a habit of not adequately celebrating/acknowledging my accomplishments so I wanted to do something nice. I also like the idea of keeping up with this new tradition for any future novels I may write.
My first draft and all bookmarks for landmarks
If you have any editing tips, please share them!
PS. Fun coincidence… today is an exact year since my very first blog post!
Whoop! It’s a week later than I wanted, but I’ve reached 30,000 words.
My first week back to work was far more busy than I expected. I was bouncing from meeting to meeting, trying to prep for the first week of school and scrambling to finish up my summer classes. By the time I got home each night, I was beat. Writing just wasn’t happening. Naturally, this has made me a little nervous about meeting my goal of 10,000 words per month while working. I’m not going to change anything yet though. As always, we’ll see how it goes first and I’ll rethink my goals only if necessary.
Bookmarks for landmarks
Now it’s time to get ready for work. I’ve got a bunch of 14 year olds to meet in the morning.
I haven’t gotten off to the greatest start this week but I did surpass my goal for today. Part of the problem is that I’m rapidly approaching the end of my detailed outline. I think I’m going to devote tomorrow to outlining alone. Ideally I’ll do this and still find a way to meet my word count goal for the week (5,250), despite skipping two days of working on my draft but it certainly isn’t the end of the world if I don’t.
Seven days ago I started tracking progress on my manuscript. I set a goal to write a minimum of 500 words a day for a total of no less than 3,500 per week. When I made the goal, I said I would adjust it if I was able to write significantly more. I want my goals to be achievable but also challenging. I surpassed my goal by 2,385 words, which tells me that I am easily capable of writing more than 500 words a day. For this reason, I am raising my goal to 750 per day/5250 per week. We’ll see how it goes. I know I seem ridiculously obsessed with the numbers right now, but again, my biggest (and very realistic) fear is not being able to finish this manuscript, despite having some really great ideas. My plan is to do daily check ins for one more week (we’ll see, I might have to return to my detailed outline sooner than that). After that, I’d like to see if I am disciplined enough to meet my goals without these frequent updates.
Words have been spilling from my fingertips the last couple of days. I’ve really gotten into a grove and I’m learning so much about my main character. She’s been struggling with some rough stuff lately, but I’ve enjoyed watching how she molds into a rounder character. I’m finding myself looking back at my outline and saying things like, “Oh, she wouldn’t do/say that,” which is a good thing. It means she is developing and I have to adjust as she develops.
Previous word count: 10,061
Current word count: 11,483
Today’s Progress: 1422
Weekly Progress thus far: 5312
Challenges: I have some big concerns about pacing. I’m worried I’m rushing through some scenes, but I’m resisting the urge to read back through it. I’ve just made a mental note to be sure to flesh out the things that need fleshing out and trot on through the things that don’t.
I’m looking forward to Father’s day tomorrow. I have plans with my stepdad in the morning and my father in the afternoon. The evening will be spent with my manuscript, soccer (the World Cup has not disappointed! Thrill after thrill!) and Game of Thrones (Season finale! Pumped!). Sounds like a great day.
I’ve noticed that more popular YA fiction is being written in the present tense. I usually don’t even notice the unusual tense until I’m well into the book, which is a good thing. An old blog post I read listed some interesting advantages to using present tense that had me debating about how to write my story for a while. Most of my past dabbles in writing fiction were written in third person, past tense. I knew I wanted this novel to have a more personal feel though, so I ended up choosing to write in first person, past. I read many articles that suggested writing in the tense that comes most naturally, especially if it’s your first novel. I think it’s good advice, especially since present tense can be distracting if not done well.
How do you feel about novels written in present tense? Do you find it thrilling or jarring?
Well, I ended up hitting my 10,000 word mini-milestone today. 🙂 I’ll post tomorrow about how I choose to commemorate the small achievement. I’m not sure if I mentioned it previously but my novel would fall into the young adult dystopian genre. I’ll be headed to the bookstore soon to stock up on some summer reads and I welcome any recommendation of books that fall into that category! I hope I can take more out of the books I read, now that I’m fully committed to writing my own. I also plan to go back and re-read some YA dystopian books I own. It’ll probably be easier to fochttps://elledesa.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpus on pacing and how the authors approach certain content when I’m not experiencing the plot for the first time.
Previous word count: 9134
Current word count: 10,061
Today’s Progress: 927
Weekly Progress thus far: 3890
Challenges: I had some hiccups when it came to expressing movement today. My protag was in the woods and ran into a few different people. I found myself stumbling over how to orient the reader (she’s behind the tree, now she’s walking, wait she’s hiding again, now she’s backtracking) without sounding dry or repetitive. I think I worked it out well enough for now but it will definitely need some cleaning up later.
I’m feeling very proud as I quickly approach the 10,000 word mark. Again, for me, a chronic starter-not-finisher, every word I put on the paper is an accomplishment and step closer to a big dream. I’ve put a few things in place to help ensure my success, like daily word count goals and check-ins (to keep myself accountable). I’ve taken the time to cater my approach to outlining and drafting to best suit my personality and I’ve let close friends and family know what I’m up to for outside encouragement. I need more of these “success-ensurers”… or maybe I don’t, but more sure won’t hurt. So, I was thinking about celebrating every 10,000 words of text. Maybe it’s cheesy but I’ve been proud of my progress everyday this week. I’ve even managed to blog 4 days in row, which isn’t much but I’ve dropped new things faster in the past. Anyway, I’ve been very proud but I know the low moments are waiting for me. Celebrating small accomplishments will hopefully be a motivator. Without diving into the drama final word count has been causing me, I should have eight to ten little celebrations by the time I finish this draft.
How should I commemorate my small accomplishments? If I keep my goal pace, I should hit 10,000 words… tomorrow.