At the end 2020, I set a goal to write two novels in 2021. As of yesterday, I’m halfway there. Now, to be clear, I finished the rough draft. That means I have at least one revision before getting it to my developmental editor/ wife, and then at least one revision after that based on her notes, and then a proofread after that. There’s no publishing contract or anything like that.
That said, the raw act of creation is finished. Now it’s time to refine.
I wrote an average of just over two thousand words a day over thirty-eight days. That’s a fair amount of words. I know authors that push out a lot more in a day, but I also know a number that create far fewer words. I’m pretty content with that output, particularly since it’s Lent.
See, I’m a pastor in my day job, and the time between Ash Wednesday (February 17 this year) and Easter (April 4 this year) are literally twice as busy as normal. I purposely decided to attempt writing the rough draft in Lent, figuring that if I could write a rough draft then, well, I could probably write a rough draft anytime!
Now, how did I do it? How could I write so much, create so much, in such a busy time?
- First, I outlined the entire novel. I already had a good grasp of the world, the characters, and the plot before I wrote the first sentence. That allowed me to just go and not have to sit and ponder too often during the drafting process.
- I set aside time to do it. I regard writing as work, and that means I needed to invest time. For me, most often, it was after the kids went to bed or were in their rooms for the night, typically about an hour a night. I also took an hour an afternoon if I happened to be done with officework early enough, though that was more hit-and-miss.
- I gave myself permission to take a day off. In all, there were seven days I wrote not a single word. That gave me room to just breathe.
- I had an end-date in mind. I told myself I’d get this rough draft done no later than Easter.
- Every day I wrote, I had a goal for wordcount: two thousand words. That meant I had to get moving and write when it was time to write.
- Social media: Off.
- I told others about my goal, giving me accountability. No one was going to send bounty hunters after me if I failed, but that meant others were going to ask how it was going.
And… it worked! I got to write a rough draft. Again, there’s still a lot of work to do, but I’ll leave the manuscript sit for at least a few weeks before tackling it again. I’ve got some short stories to dust off and revise and maybe write some new short stories in the intervening time.
Now, I’m no expert. This is not the next great American novel. It’s a rough draft. But if I can do it… you can. Set aside the time and push out words. This is what it took for me to do it.
What about you? What do you do to produce words?