Week #8 Overview

I can’t quite believe tomorrow will mark the end of my second month of writing my novel full-time. Since I began last month, the weeks have melted into a single indistinct streak; so much so, if it wasn’t for my weekly overviews, I’d find it almost impossible to distinguish between them.

For October, I set myself the target of producing 31,500 to 36,750 words, pushing my total word count to 67,800 to 73,000 words. With a day to spare, I’m currently on 70,187 words! Well, actually it was two days to spare, as I broke my minimum amount by the end of Thursday, as you can see below:

The breakdown for week 8:

Week 8 Word Total Daily Words
24 Oct 2016 63,471 2,086
25 Oct 2016 65,519 2,048
26 Oct 2016 67,312 1,793
27 Oct 2016 (1/2 day) 68,137 825
28 Oct 2016 70,187 2,050
Overall Total Week’s Total
70,187 (Woohoo!) 8,802

It was great to be able to reach 70,000 words, though. It’s a nice round number and I always had my eye on the upper-end of my target. (Hopefully I’ll produce another couple of thousand words tomorrow to add to October’s total.) It means I can be very pleased with October—and I am.

Although saying that, this was a tough week. It wasn’t bad, only tough. (My eight week-streak of average-to-good weeks remains intact… for now.)

It was tough because I was continuing Chapter 7, which really acts as a 3-in-1 chapter, as it introduces three major characters via flashbacks interspersed between the present narrative. So there’s a lot of things going on (many of which are fantastic: in the imaginative, unreal, extraordinary meaning, though hopefully it does include the extraordinarily good, as well!). This makes it a long chapter, which has so far taken me ten-and-a-half days to write.

I’m not sure why, but even though the fantastic elements have made it a joy to write, the growing time taken makes the writing harder somehow. Not the producing of it but rather its appreciation, or my understanding of it.

It feels as if I’ve made less progress, even though that’s not true, just because I’m still on that chapter, as it were, after all this time. Not only that, as great as it is to have breached the 70,000 word mark, it’s a bit worrying to then say I’m only on chapter 7 (as well as the prologue), when I have 63 more to go. As a rule (to maintain pace), I don’t want my chapters to be too long; if they are, I want to them to be well sub-divided

The main worry is the time aspect: how long will it take me to write? Well, as my grandad used to say, how long is a piece or string? (I suppose he never read the packaging.)

I know it’s a long book, so I keep that in mind. I’m remaining rigid in my flexibility too. That is essential. I’m trying not to let this bother me or worry me. The word count is important, of course it is, but I try to not let it affect the actual writing.

As this is my first time writing a novel, everything is done on a trail-by-error basis. My book, like many, such as Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, is split into two parts. I don’t feel this means I could split the book into two books, though. Some authors do that (George R.R. Martin with the longer books in his A Song of Ice and Fire series) but I doubt it would be possible for a first time author. Even if it were, I’m not sure I would want to, for the same reason I doubt I can split it into two books: it would not be a complete story.

This has made me more mindful of what I am writing. As I want to maintain pace, it does make me consider whether each next scene is essential, or if it can be condensed or presented in a shorter way. If a scene can be omitted without affecting the story then it’s unessential.

I know I am re-writing chapter 1, which is a good 16,000 words, so really the total isn’t 70,000 words if I’m hoping to lose at least half of chapter 1. In addition, I know through editing I will naturally lose about 10% of what I’ve written. Editing after time to reflect will also help me recognise what is essential story and what isn’t. Obviously, I write everything with the hope of it being final-draft material but the reality is a lot of it won’t be.

If I take this into account, then really, so far, I have maybe 56,000 words across seven chapters and the prologue. This makes me feel better about the looming 63 chapters to go. I have to realise, as well, that a first draft word count could be a lot longer than the final draft, after all the stages of editing.

For now, I’m trying not to let the word count-to-chapter ratio bother me; it is easier to focus on the negative rather than the positive. Instead, it’s more productive to remember that I’m doing well to continually be producing a decent amount of words day-in day-out; that I am in a fortunate position to be thinking I already have too many words. I am hoping because of this, that when I come to editing, what I will be left with will not only be essential but fantastic (in the extraordinarily good meaning, this time).

As for the unanswerable, only guessable question, how long will this take? I shouldn’t let it bother me. Nothing worth having comes easy. If having a published book to my name is what I want, then it won’t come about quickly (otherwise everyone would be doing it) and I have to work hard for it (I genuinely believe I am) and be prepared to do so for as long as is necessary.

Sure, some writers can produce a book in months; others take years. (George R.R. Martin is a current example of an author understandably but unfairly pressured by his impatient fans for the next book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series.) While I hope that this isn’t me, I have to be mindful that I am still only two months experienced at this. My time writing so far may be a melted indistinct steak trailed behind me but it’s only two months. As long as that may feel, in actuality it isn’t. Not just for writing a book, but in general. Before I started, I told myself this could take around a year. If I want to make it as a published writer then I have to stick with it, learn from what I am doing, and try to forge ahead as positively as possible.

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