Monday, July 2, 2018

A new perspective on writing a novel




Have you ever given any thought to how you actually write? I mean, do you know how to go about it. Do you set yourself goals or deadlines, or do you just wing it and see where you end up?

I went very structured with my first novel. I had an outline. I had written down all the characters that were going to be in there, and what was going to happen in every single chapter. With the second book I threw that all out the door, and decided I’m a creative. I can’t outline. I’ll wing it and see what happens. Personally, I now feel like I’m lost. Or should I say, that is how I used to feel.

I listened to one of Joanna Penn’s old podcasts recently, I can’t remember which one, and she mentioned that if you know the length of the novel you are aiming for, you can break that wordcount down into smaller and more manageable chunks. Also, if you break your wordcount down into smaller goals, it seems more attainable. At least for me it does. I don’t know why I never looked at it like that. I guess I just needed to change my perspective.

For book two I am aiming for 80 000 words. And if I break that 80 000 words down into 90 days (about three months), I only need to write 889 words a day. You can even make your timeline longer or shorter if you wish. Breaking it down like that made me feel so much more hopeful. It doesn’t seem like such a monumental task.

Of course there will still be the second draft and the cleaning up of the manuscript, but that first draft is the most important, because you at least have the bones of the novel.

What used to freak me out about writing is that I would go in thinking “I want at least 80 000 words,” and my heart would sink every time I sat down to write. Now I can just tell myself, “I need 889 words.” And I can even take it a step further and break that 889 words for the day down into even smaller chunks. It doesn’t mean I have to do it all in one sitting. I can take 14 hours to write that 889 words. If you don’t reach your goal, you try and make it up over the next few days. If you write more than those 889 words, great.

This just seems like such a revelation. I know many of you might think “Duh, that’s how every one does it.” But I hadn’t, so there. Though, that is how I shall be doing it from now on.

I think it’s easy for me to feel like a failure. Especially when that depression monster hits. So I need things to be simple and uncomplicated. It really makes writing, and life so much easier for me.

So, how do you write your novel? Have you known about this tactic? Do you have another you want to share?

14 comments :

  1. I guess that's why NaNo is so popular - you're just aiming for 1667 words a day. But under 900 is much more doable. That might push me along as well. Thanks and hope we both hit our targets!

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    1. Thank you, Alex. We both will hit our targets😉

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  2. I like that you found a way that works for you!

    My goal is usually to hit 1000 words a day. I like nice even round numbers. I don't always make it. I used to worry about that, but I don't any more. On really good days, I go over. Usually I think/write in scenes. I know what's going to happen in a scene, and I write it. Then I make notes when I stop about what still needs to happen in that scene. If I stop at the end of a scene, I do my best to figure out what the next scene will be and leave myself a note. Sometimes I don't really know. Sometimes I'll add filler here until I think of what needs to happen. Or I won't write again until I do figure it out. I always know the overall arc of the story, but not the details until I actually write them.

    I love, love, love how everyone employs something different to keep them moving forward. I've tried a lot of things, but I've been writing 'my' way for a while now. Even so, that doesn't mean I always will. I may change it up tomorrow. Finding what works for you is the key.

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    1. I like how we all write differently too. I like how you write per scene and how you leave yourself notes. I should do that!

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  3. I love the breaking it down thing. I've never been intimidated by large goals, but that's a personality thing. We have to figure out what works for each of us, eh?

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    1. Absolutely. Because I suffer from depression its hard for me to predict when I will have an episode. So I would worry about hitting 80 000 words. But if I just think that I lost one or two days, maybe 1700 words, I know I can make it up. So, it is definitely a mindset thing😊.

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  4. I love the breaking down idea too - and it's a revelation for me too so you're not alone. I made myself crazy with word count goals but trying this method may work better for me. Thanks for sharing.
    Great to see you, Murees!

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    1. You are welcome. I'm glad you found it useful too. I know! Word goals can become an obsession. I already found that this strategy works great for me. I hope it helps you too.

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  5. Unless I'm NaNoWriMo-ing, I never worry about word count, for either the day or a project as a whole. And I never have word count in mind when I start a project. But I have often wondered if I would be able to get through a first draft quicker if I employed a daily word count goal of some kind.

    Glad you've found a technique that works for you!

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    1. Thanks M.J. What ever works for you, stick to it. I tried to be traditionally published years ago, and they prefered 80 000 words. So its a nasty habit that stuck in my mind. I know I am Indie and can change it up. This new book might just be shorter.

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  6. Hi Murees - that's excellent to see you've worked out what works for you ... good luck with 'just doing it' - you will ... take care - cheers Hilary

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  7. Hi Murees!
    The thought of 889 words a day sounds realistic and doable.
    I'm so glad you've worked out a way to tackle the 80,000 word draft.
    Keep Writing!

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    1. Thank you, Michelle. I really need to finish this book, to prove to myself that I can do it.

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