Shakespeare class 2005, Lynchburg, Virginia. The girl sitting in front of me was furiously scribbling into a green marbled (graph paper) composition notebook. I asked her what she was writing and she said she was writing a novel. I was totally impressed because I had tried writing a novel by hand in high school and I totally failed.
She went on to say that she was going to finish it at the end of the month because she was writing it for National Novel Writing Month. I had never heard of that before. I wanted in. She said it wasn’t too late for me to start.
I bought my own green marbled composition notebook with graph paper and a new pen (any excuse to buy a new pen) and I sat down and I wrote maybe three chapters before I gave up. There was no fancy, addictive graph to chart your progress back then.
I few years later I tried again, tried and failed. I gave up on writing fiction and threw everything I had into writing poetry. Then, in 2016, fed up of not having a story of my own in the world, I dug deep and found 2 half formed characters hiding in my brain.
“You’re going to get a book,” I told them, “go do something.”
“What?” they blinked at me, confused and a little annoyed. How dare I pull them away from their imaginary lives to act out parts in my “story.”
But they relented and came out of the shadows. We worked well together for a few weeks and then the word eating pace stopped.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I’m not doing that,” my character said.
“What?” I asked again.
“That,” he said, “that thing you just made me do. I’m not doing that.”
“But…It’s part of the story,” I said, “You have to do that so the ending happens the way I want it.”
“Well tough shit, I don’t want to do that,” he said.
Obviously I was very confused and frustrated, I’d never had an imaginary friend before, let alone one that talked back to me. I had to learn fast how to negotiate with my characters and the story itself or else nothing would have gotten done.
I finished the first draft of that manuscript with around 51,000 words with changes that made all my characters happy.
Bolstered by my success I tried again in 2017 and failed. I had started a new job, my schedule was crazy, and I didn’t have a plot or characters that felt as real as the ones in the last year’s manuscript.
So this year I’m trying again and I’m determined to win. But this year I’m doing something different. Instead of working on once brand new, never been touched project, I’m going to work on 3 works in progress. Which I know is not traditional, but I feel a strong sense of urgency for getting these projects done before I begin something new.
I am going to divide my 50,000 word count goal up:
25,000 words will go to the first draft of the sequel to Past Life, which seriously needs to be written (like yesterday).
10,000 words will go to completing the first draft of my high fantasy erotica novella.
And 15,000 words will go towards completing the first draft of Havoc’s Moon, which I wanted to have finished, revised, and published on Halloween this year but that did not happen because sometimes I am a sad human and can’t write.
So that’s my plan. I haven’t decided yet how I’m going to allocate my daily word counts. I’m probably just going to work on one project until I lose my train of thought and then jump to the next project if I need to write more words to make my daily count.
This year the goals are: efficiency, dedication, and getting most of the things done.
Happy National Novel Writing Month 🙂