Thursday, November 29, 2018

Next Time, Gadget! Next Time!!

            Wow, November’s almost over.  Where’s this month gone?  Hell, where’s this year gone?  Can you believe Black Panther only came out a little over eight months ago?  Seriously.
            Anyway...
            The end of November also means we’re closing in on the end of NaNoWriMo.  About, what, a day and a half left?  Maybe a little less, depending on when you read this?  I hope it’s going well for you.  I’m sure you kicked ass, but I hope you realize that.  Whatever you got done this month is an achievement.  So many people talk about writing, but you went out and did it.
            How much did you get done?  Thirty thousand words?  Forty five?  Sixty?  Are you one of those inhuman folks who closed in on ninety thousand words (an average of 3000 words a day—I know lots of pros who’d envy that kind of stamina).
            Which brings me to one of the best things you’ll get out of this.
            Let’s say you ended up with 45,000 words.  An average of 1500 a day.  Not a novel, but it’s halfway there, easy.  It’s a good solid novella as is, and there are some markets opening up for that sort of thing.
            But here’s the thing...
            If I did this once, I can do it again.  Those 45,000 words are inarguable proof that I’ve got the ability to produce words at a good rate.  At a professional rate!  Which means I could do it again in December and boom look at that! A ninety thousand word manuscript, if I keep going on the same thing.  That’s a novel.  Any publisher on Earth would call that a novel.
            Are they 90,000 perfect words?  Ehhhh... probably not.  But it’s a very solid first draft.  And if you produced a first draft, it means you’ve got it in you to do a second and third draft.  You can’t deny it.  The proof is right there.
            Even better—you can do it again!  Maybe in March and April.  Keep up that same rate and there’s another 90,000 word first draft.  Hell, maybe next time you’ll be just a little faster.  Now that new manuscript’s 100,000 words long.  One.  Hundred.  Thousand.  Words. 
            And we both know you can do it, because you just did it now during NaNoWriMo.  And you can do it again.  And again.  And again..
            A bunch of times here I’ve mentioned my early attempts at writing novels.  The Werewolf Detective of Newbury Street.  The Trinity.  Even the wonderfully goofy, very early-oeuvre masterpiece Lizard Men from the Center of the Earth.  One thing they had in common was that I didn’t finish any of them.
            Another thing they had in common is that nobody bought them.  Nobody was really interested in them.  Because they were incomplete.  I didn’t have the stamina—or the confidence—to finish them.
            The Suffering Map is the first thing I finished.  It’s the first thing I wrote that made it to second and third and fourth drafts.  It’s also—no coincidence—the first thing of mine that got any interest from agents and editors.
            Did they buy it?  No, of course not.  It’s still awful.  I mean, let’s be honest--it was my first finished book.  There was so much clumsiness in it, on so many levels.
            But I finished it.  So I knew I could finish another one.  A better one.
            And I did.  I wrote my next book in almost a third the time.  Or a tenth, depending on how you want to look at things.  And that book sold.
            Being able to produce words is a huge accomplishment.  Having the discipline to keep doing it is fantastic.  And if you’ve managed to do ninety, fifty, or even just ten thousand words this month, you’ve proven you can do this on a regular basis.
            So, congratulations.  You just won NaNoWriMo in one of the most important ways you can.
            Next time, I thought I’d bounce a couple character ideas off you.
            Until then... go write!

3 comments:

  1. The Black Panther bit messed me up. I thought it'd been over a year.

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    1. Yeah, somebody pointed that out to me on Twitter and I think I did three solid minutes of "What? Nooooooo... Really? Noooooooo, it can't be..."

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  2. I don't take part in NaNoWriMo, but I am working on a novel. 1500 words a day would be fantastic.

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