Writing my first novel: slow and steady wins the race

In my last couple of posts, I’ve been wittering away about writing my first novel. Thanks for sticking with me! I signed up for NaNoWriMo and set my goal: to write 50,000 words in November. Now, I knew this goal was likely ambitious. I have three kids, three jobs and three animals, along with a chronic illness – so my life is at best, busy – at worst, completely chaotic. However, I am never one to make life easy for myself and always have more ambitions than time to fulfil them, so it’s nothing new.

We’re nearly at the halfway point now so I thought it was time to give you another update! At last count, I’ve written 6,000 words— not even remotely close to the 25k I should be approaching, but you know what? I’m happy. I’ve committed to writing my story. I have the bones of the first five or six chapters and I know where my story is headed.

What have I learned through my experience so far?

I am definitely a planner. I love to have the corkboard in Scrivener to refer to at the beginning, and sometimes throughout the chapter, to give me pointers as to what I should be writing about. I am also a considered writer, I don’t sprint, I think the most I’ve managed to write in one session is about 900 words.

I also can’t silence my inner editor – I am an editor – it is a part of me that can’t be hushed. Most of the advice I’ve read, especially about NaNo, is to just keep writing, that’s how the words rack up. I was pretty sure that was going to be tough for me. I find it difficult to ignore typos or red squiggly lines and keep typing, so I correct as I go along. That doesn’t mean that I won’t edit later, of course I will, but I will hopefully be reading a first draft that I am proud of, not horrified by! That might not work for you but it works for me. The few words that I have managed to write are ones that I am proud of and that feels like an achievement in itself, for a first timer.

As I’d hoped at the beginning of the process, writing has given me an insight into the lives of my clients. Writing is bloody hard. To keep up the commitment that it takes to get to the end of a novel, even a rubbish novel, is flipping impressive. If you are even close to having written 50k words by the end of November, while juggling a busy life, I commend you – take a bow – you are a legend! To those of you who commit to paying an editor, I hope that they appreciate that, that in itself is a big deal. To hand over your words for another to read and potentially pull apart is terrifying. I don’t even want my family to read over my shoulder. The thought of sending it to a colleague at the end of the process, is frankly, enough to make me feel sick. This will allow me an empathy with my clients, that I hope they have always felt, but I will make damn sure they do now.

I’ve also mentioned the amount of research I’ve been doing on the writing process as I’ve qualified as a developmental editor. I’m still on the search for the perfect ‘fiction bible’. As much as I enjoy reading blogs, I’d prefer to have a hard copy of a bible that talks about everything from pantsing vs planning to editing and publishing/querying tips. If you know of one please let me know but I may just add writing one to my ever-increasing-to-do list.

Let me know how you’re getting on with your writing journey. Are you winning at NaNo or going for slow and steady, like me? If you’d like to discuss editing with me contact me here and if you’d like some of my freebies check out this character profile template and this simple plot diagram.

Categories Uncategorized, writing

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