A Year of Writing: Fifth Month

This is taking longer than you thought. Five months already and no real product? Perhaps by now the short stories you’ve sent out have been printed in an Indie lit journal, or maybe you have yet to hear back at all. You might be behind in your work or feeling like the process is going slow. Just remember, in the future, it will feel like a blip. It is better than spending a lot of time doing nothing.

Stick with us. We’re almost done with project number one.

Day 1. Write to 55,750 words.

For anyone who has just come to the game, the idea is to write about 1,750 words most days. This is a lot for some people. This is a little for others. I chose this amount because it is enough to feel like you’re accomplishing something, but not enough to be overwhelming. After having done this for some time, you are able to pick a pace you feel is challenging enough yet possible enough. An extra 250 words can do wonders for the time frame.

Day 2. Write to 56,500.

Day 3. Write to 56,250.

Day 4. Write to 57,000.

Day 5. Write a query.

Now that you’re this entrenched in your book, you probably have a pretty good idea of what is going on and plans for what is going to happen. You don’t know everything yet, and there’s a good chance many things will change, but writing a query now is good for you for several different reasons.

One, the query needs to be damn close to being perfect. Busy agents are looking for any reason to write you off without taking a lot of time. They want your book to be good; they just don’t think it will be. Prove them wrong. By writing one now you get to take your time with it, but not stall the actual process of sending the work out when you go to submit.

Next, by considering what are the most interesting parts of your book you will notice what you want to spend more or less time with. Knowing what elements you’re selling helps make choices during the editing process and when you aren’t sure what should be happening.

A query is a letter that states plot, indicates atmosphere, and introduces characters. It needs to be less than one page, so by taking the time to think, “These are the most exciting elements of my story,” it will occur to you, “I haven’t talk about this part enough in the actual manuscript.”

Because this is way early in the game, you don’t need to worry about being brilliant yet. Don’t think too hard, just get it off your chest.

Day 6. Write to 57,750 words.

Day 7. Write to 58,500 words.

Day 8. Write to 59,250 words.

Day 9. Edit last 5,000 words.

Day 10. Write to 60,000 words.

Day 11. Write to 60,750 words.

Day 12. Write to 61,500 words.

Day 13. Edit from the 20,000 word point to the 40,000 word point.

This is one of the longer days, but by reading through this and just giving it a little gloss over, you will remind yourself what you’ve written and have the book in its third draft by the time the novel is actually finished, making it more likely you will like it.

Look for things like loose threads that you’ve forgotten about, continuity issues, and just fix word choices that you weren’t in love with. Don’t worry about how terrible it is; it isn’t indicative of what it can be.

Day 14. Write to 62,250.

Day 15. Write to 63,000.

Day 16. Write to 63,750.

Day 17. Watch a terrible movie and think about how you would improve it.

One of the largest schisms between beginning writers is the issue of judgment. Some of us are terribly judgmental whores and others are completely confident in whatever crap Hollywood is throwing up.

There are those who do not need to learn how to tear apart films. For others, however, it is the hardest and most necessary part of experience. If you can’t figure out how to fix something you are objective about, how can you possibly know what to do with the work you are most jaded to?

Watch any film and come up with what you didn’t like about it, why you didn’t like it, and how to fix it.

If you are really good at this already, then watch a film you either hate or think you would hate and ask yourself (with the assumption they’re not big fat liars) why its fans like it.

Day 18. Write to 64,500.

Day 19. Write to 65,250.

Day 20. Edit last 5,000 words.

Day 21. Write to 66,000.

Day 22. Write to 66,750.

Day 23. Write to 67,500.

Day 24. Edit a short story.

Considering we have two shorts sitting there, waiting to be sent out, rereading them after all this time can give you a clear indication of your writing style. Work on either story you prefer.

Day 25. Write to 68,250.

Day 26. Write to 69,000.

Day 27. Write to 69,750.

Day 28. Edit last 5,000 words.

Day 29. Write to 70,500.

Day 30. Write to 71,250.

With less than half a year complete, we have almost a whole book finished. If you’re a fast writer, you might already be done.

You should be feeling good about yourself, and maybe a little nervous. It is not all that uncommon to want to quit at this point. I’ve had many books I’ve stopped right when the getting was good.

You’re almost done. Just remember to keep going.

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