One month and one day. 76,324 words.
It is done.
Well, the rough draft is done. There’s a lot of polishing to be done in revisions. That said, it’s a lot easier to revise than to create from nothing. One part of the hard work is done; now more hard work is coming!
I decided to try writing a rough draft in a month. Sure, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is November, and lots of people do it, but November rarely works for me as a pastor. That’s the month of Thanksgiving and amping up for Christmas. Also, why wait for a set day when you could start any day?
So September 11, 2020, I began this attempt. I’d written entire novels in a month before, but never at this length. Previous efforts topped out at around 50,000 words in a month. I was aiming for a book of about 75,000 words this time around. That would mean well over 2,000 words a day on average. Could I do it?
Well, yeah. I did it. I told you that already. Reading comprehension is a good thing!
Oh. You already knew that. Well then.
How did I do it?
First, I’d already written out a four-page outline of the novel. I already had a good feel for the main character in particular through that, as well as the pertinent conflicts. Because I was revisiting a world I’d already set a short story in, I knew the setting fairly well, too. That goes a long way in being able to write quickly; I didn’t have to sit and ponder what was coming next.
The next thing I did (at my wife’s urging) was write in half-hour sprints. If I sit for an hour or two to write, I’ll get a thousand words or more. But if I know I only have half an hour to get things done, I tend to work faster. By the end of the month, I was writing 1,500 words every half-hour. That meant in two half-hour sprints, I could get 3,000 words.
I didn’t write every single day, either. In fact, I probably could have finished a few days earlier had I done that. Honestly, the novel is probably better for it. I noticed that when I wrote three 5,000-word days in a row, the fourth day was… difficult to get any words out. I think I’d simply burn myself out. Keep in mind, I wasn’t just writing on any of these days. I was also spending time with my family, playing with my kids, pursuing my ministry as a pastor…
But I learned that I can produce content at a phenomenal pace. It also tells me that if/when I’m able to write full-time, I should be able to produce a number of projects every year. That’s one of the interesting things about indie writers; we’re not putting out a novel a year at best. We’re often putting out a novel a year at worst! And look! I know I can handle this pace!
So what’s next?
Well, I’m going to let the novel sit for at least a few weeks. I have a few other writing projects to pursue in the meantime. I’m hoping to do a revision over the month of December, and then hand it off to an editor to help me get it into shape after that.
And then… well, we’ll see how much work it needs, eh?