So I have been beating myself up over not working on my novel…and last night I suppose out of boredom or curiosity I picked up the draft of a novel that was probably ¾ of the way completed (a good 75,000 words) and just started reading. To my surprise it wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be. Don’t get me wrong, it was still bad and nothing that I would ever let someone see, it just wasn’t as bad as I thought. And the things that I thought needed to be worked on were skills that I have actually become better at in the year and a half since I set it aside.
This is good news for many reasons. First, I believe it is salvageable. Second, I stopped writing because plot wise I got stuck. The second manuscript I stopped writing because I couldn’t find life in my characters. And can you blame me? You try building a character around someone who has been alive since the creation of earth. That’s an awful lot of memories to build upon and difficult to make believable. Sure lots have people have tired. Some would even say there are authors who have succeeded. But I have yet to find a book where a character that is that old doesn’t come off as cumbersome and overbearing. There’s just an awful lot of baggage to deal with.
But the first novel has amazing characters and after reading a chunk of the manuscript last night I decided that maybe the two can come together in harmonious bliss. Is that possible? And do I get to go on the honeymoon if they are happily married?
Anyway, the other day I posted a message on losing focus. So my solution was to go back to the writing and find a strategy to refocus. Some of us writer folk have been discussing putting together a retreat and I decided to do my own mini boot camp. For every day I have assigned a topic, all related to refocusing the novel. My goal is to have a finished and viewable draft (i.e. polished enough that I can let others look at it without scratching my name off) by the end of the year. This is ultimately my pacing goal. Normally I would say this is a big jump for me…but considering the amount of legwork I have already done…I don’t think this is unrealistic. So this week I have been preparing for the Writing Boot Camp as if it were a real workshop. I’ve made copies of all the tools story development, plotting and characterization tools that I want to use. I have a plotting board, magazines, newspapers, photos etc. that I can begin to use as world building and even have the schedule posted on my office door. The goal is to have everything taken care of so that I don’t use lack of preparation as an excuse.
It might sound a little hokey, but a few years ago I did the NaNoWriMo. That is the National Novel Writers Month where writers take on the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. You log in your daily word count each day and cheer each other on. It is a big deal and lots of people participate. And it seems to work if you’re looking at an isolated period of time. As soon as you try to make something a permanent habit that is when it starts getting easy to let things slip. So to make a long explanation short, I think it will work as long as I am committed to getting it done that week. Three hours a day minimum and five days a week.
Wish me luck. Maybe I will update each day on my progress. So you know that I am not just talk. I’ll put the link to NaNoWriMo up to so that you can check it out if you want.