Writing Update No. 5

Last time I updated about progress on my novel, I talked about working on other writing exercises outside of my manuscript. This time, I have to admit I’ve been doing that again. Part of the problem was that my reading slump eeked into my good intentions to catch up on my writing.

My goal for this writing update was to be able to say I’d satisfactorily finished section 4 of 9 of my book. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as it did turn out to be a productive switch), I had barely started working on section 4 when I decided to go back and make some further changes in section 3. So I’ve re-edited section 3 (again), but made no further writing progress in the half-written section 4.

However, during my trash-writing/slump/blocked days in the past couple of weeks, I did an insane amount of non-manuscript-related writing. I was turning out thousands of words per day, and while it was first-draft stuff, the ideas were flowing, the words were flowing, and I didn’t hate what was coming out. It made me more confident about moving forward with my novel, and it reminded me that all the careful, slow attention of editing can be put on hold while I work on finishing laying out my content.

So I have a new goal. When I first started going through my novel again this year, section by section, I thought every couple of weeks I would just move on to the next at an orderly pace and I wouldn’t have much of excitement to update, except “I reached my goal this week” or “I didn’t reach my goal this week, but I’ll keep going for next week.” And yet, here I am, deciding to go back to those awful cramming days from college when I’d wait too long to start a paper and then force it all out at the last minute, probably in the middle of the night. I’m going to stop editing for the time being. I’ve reached that middle section of my book that’s mostly only outlined, and I’m going to just sit at my computer and make myself type, even if it’s crap at first, because that’s what all those awful, slow, rewarding rounds of editing are for, right? So in the next two weeks, I’m aiming for 40,000-50,000 words. I’ll edit it down, but I want all the words to be there. I think even the editing will be so much smoother going if I’m less worried about lacking content I thought I would have by now.

It seems like an impossible task, considering how slowly things have been going this year, but I’m happy with the progress that I have made, and so I’m going to be ambitious and push myself to make a lot more progress. Middle-of-the-night paper writing in college was pretty miserable, but it won me some good grades; maybe that’s the way to go again, for now.

My goal for the next two weeks: to finish all of the empty spaces in my book, sections 4-9. Some of those parts are already written, but I’m endeavoring to write all of the rest now. Right now. Hopefully by the time I update again in a couple of weeks, I’ll be able to say, “I have a whole first draft,” and all that’s left will be editing.

I’m not usually one of those people who can force themselves to write every day. If I’m not in the mood for it, it can be painful to write anything substantial, and I don’t see much point in writing insubstantially. But for the next two weeks, I will be writing every day. Like crazy. (I’ll also be setting aside some reading time and reviewing time to keep up with my normal posts in the meantime). See you on the other side.


The Literary Elephant


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