I stopped blogging regularly about my writing a while ago, felt I was running out of new/readable ways to say the same things – certainly, nothing I couldn’t say on Twitter more concisely. However, I’m embarking on a Big Writing Exercise shortly, so I’m throwing it a post.
Because, yes, it’s autumn, the end of the year is poking its head over the door, leaves are brown and it’s cold in a Winter-Preview kinda way, all that can only mean one thing – Writers Doing Calendar-Based Word Count Challenges!
Obviously, I’m a little ahead of everyone else here – most are waiting for November to embark upon the epic NaNoWriMo quest. But I’m doing something a little different and I’ll now attempt to explain it…
If you read my 2014 writing retrospective post (and why wouldn’t you?), you’ll see I listed my third goal for last year as writing the first draft of my new fun-adventure post-H&C post-devil novel. Well, nine months on, I wrote about twenty thousand words of that in Spring before deciding it wasn’t working, then sidetracking for ages writing H&C4 and editing H&C3 (out soon!).
Basically – writing the first draft of an entirely new Thing has been on my to-do list for literal years at this stage, and I’d like to have one last aggressive punt at it before 2015 dissolves into memory.
So I’ve decided to do a word-count challenge, but not NaNoWriMo, because
- The daily targets on NaNo are slightly too tough for me to produce work I’m happy with, even by first draft standards – not that I can’t produce 1.6k of tolerable first draft on a day when I’m not busy, but catching up after days when I am busy soon turns it into a miserable chore and flushes the quality down the toilet.
- The overall target of NaNo is too short for me to finish a book – and not even just because I ramble. The NaNo standard 50k is shorter than almost all adult novels and many (most?) YA ones too. Even my H&C books, which aren’t exactly epic tomes, are longer.
So, what am I doing instead?
Well, I spent a lot of August trying to hammer out my new ideas for an adult fantasy novel (not the one from earlier this year) into shape, and I decided I was ready to at least give a first draft a go. I also noticed there are ninety-one days in the months of September, October and November. So if I write 1000 words a day for the entire of that quarter-year, I get something around the length of an adult novel.
Plus I’d finish at the same time as everyone doing NaNo and piggy-back on their party! It’s a win win! I could feel bad, but I’ve been “rebelling” at NaNo – working on projects outside the normal parameters – every year for ages now. Would be more rebellious to not rebel, at this point.
Hardcore calendar users might note it’s nearly halfway through September, so I’ve not told you about the challenge until it is one-sixth over. This is because I have an ego, so decided I’d put off blogging about it until I’d met the quota for a while. If I trailed off in the first week, no-one need ever know.
The existence of this blog post suggests that it’s going okay. I’m writing this at 11PM on the 13th Sept with word count currently at 15k. I could have padded it out to 16k maybe by drastically overwriting the description in recent scenes, but the whole goal here is to produce a first draft that isn’t a smear of shit. So let’s try and slow down, pace properly, otherwise I’ll get to my 90k and be nowhere near the end.
In fairness, the one remaining risk in the plan is that this might happen anyway. Realistically, I probably need to get 100k (or slightly more) to finish a book, but if I can make 90 by the end of November, I might conceivably be able to squeeze the last tiny bit out in December around all that Christmas stuff.
The biggest threat to this enterprise is myself, as I’m releasing H&C3 on 6th October (EXCLUSIVE ANNOUNCEMENT), smack in the middle of this challenge. Fortunately, I’ve already done most of the formatting and tech prep, so I’m hoping I can keep it clattering along. We shall see. I do have a very busy week coming up approximately right now, so maybe the plan will fall straight off the rails after doing the blog post.
And now my ego is considering putting the post on hold for a few days to make sure that doesn’t happen, but I’ll power on through. I’m going to refrain from banging on about this endlessly, but at least one or two updates will follow if the project continues. Good luck with anyone else out there doing pre-NaNo writing challenges, let me know if you want to form a support group.