My first week participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2022 ended yesterday, and so far, so good. I’m well on my way to my 50,000 word goal, clocking in nearly 20,000 words as of this morning. I feel good about the story itself. This is only my second attempt at writing a novel, and if it goes well, will hopefully be the first one I publish. The first one I wrote a few years ago comes with some intellectual property baggage, so it can wait.
Of course, I still have about 3 weeks to go, so who knows if I can maintain this pace. So far, I’m able to exceed my personal target of 2,000 words every day. It takes me about an hour to write that (that probably sounds like I’m bragging, but I’m not trying to, honestly). Of course, those are 2,000 “first draft” words, and there is a lot of work to be done after the first draft of the novel is complete. I’m pretty sure I can expect at least 2 months of editing and revision on my own for every month I take to write the first draft, but that’s a guess on my part. I have no idea how long it will take when I work with an independent editor.
My Secret(?) to Productivity
I believe there are a few reasons why I’m able to get that much done on the first go-round. The first is that I can type quickly, and more importantly, I can touch type. Back in high school, in grade 10, I took a typing course (in Alberta at the time, it was Typing 10. I believe it’s called Keyboarding now). For the first 3 months, we learned on manual typewriters. We were able to get some time on the electric typewriters (IBM Selectrics) for the last few weeks. The goal was to build up both speed and accuracy. The result is that I can type about as fast as I can form the thoughts I want to get down on the screen. It means I’m not having to wait for my fingers to catch up.
The second reason is the way I go about creative writing, which is similar to how I approach writing software. Before I begin to write, I have planned out in my mind the next part of the story. I will go over it in my head a few times, playing with ideas and concepts, and getting the basic plot points and dialog figured out, even if only roughly, in advance. The writing part is now about capturing that thinking, and refining it as well as filling in any details.
Unlike with software, where the goal is to get it right the first time, with the creative writing, I’m not trying to obsess about getting the story perfect on the first go. I want to capture the story as I see it now, knowing it will change when I go back and review and revise what I’ve done. Then I’ll revise some sections, drop some, add new ones, and completely re-write others. I’ll have a few versions of the novel done before I’m ready to send it to an editor. That’s the step my previous novel didn’t take, at least not yet.
Independent Feedback Required
This one will go to an independent editor, someone who will look at it with a critical eye. I will also rely on some of my friends and family (I did use some for my first as-yet unpublished novel). These are people I know will give me honest, and if required brutal, feedback and comments. They won’t say “oh wow, it’s great” if it actually isn’t. Then I go back and apply any fixes when it comes to typos, grammar problems, and just plain weird phrasing. I also incorporate the feedback and opinions where I think it makes sense (and maybe ignore some, because they would alter the story in ways I don’t want it to go, but only after some discussion on those points).
The goal for this work is to eventually get it published. What road I take for that is still to be determined. I might self-publish, I might try the traditional route. If nothing else, self-publishing is the fallback position. There’s no harm in trying to take the more traditional path first.
However, to publish I first need to finish. And that’s the focus for now.