One year ago today on August 1st, 2009, I decided to get serious about writing a novel. The basic plot and the major characters came to me back in January of 2009, but other than a few notes scribbled into a notebook and a truly bad first draft of a first chapter, that’s as far as I got. I put the whole project completely aside for seven months.
Here’s a little recap of my journey.
August: I did the 21 Days to a Novel exercises created by author Michael Stackpole. This got me in the habit of working on the project nearly every day and motivated me to create a full chapter outline. At this time, I began reading books on writing fiction at a voracious pace.
September: I started writing the first draft, and forced myself to write every single day for 21+ days to forge a new habit in me little brain.
October – December: I finished the first draft around the first week of December, and it clocked in around 115,000 words. I ‘won’ NaNo with 50K words in November. Then I took the rest of December off, until January 1st …
January: On the 1st, I made a renewed commitment and started rewriting and editing the work.
February: I put the early chapters of the novel up on Authonomy and started getting feedback from dozens (ultimately hundreds) of people. I realized that some things needed to be fixed about the novel, and started doing more intensive revision on the early chapters. Through all this, I grew a lot as a writer.
March: More revision, more Authonomy. My Authonomy feedback became consistently positive, giving me hope that I was on the right track. I also attended the wonderful and very inspiring Superstars Writing Seminar. By this point, I had the first ten chapters in pretty good shape.
April – July: Around this time, I got serious about rewriting the rest of the novel, and I rewrote everything through chapter 35, up to around 50,000 words. This is the end of “book 1” of my novel (it has three sections).
Now: I’m currently editing the first 35 chapters, and by the end of August, I expect to have these 35 ready for beta (early) readers.
I still need to rewrite and edit the next 50 chapters of the novel, around 75,000 more words. The final total should be around 125K words and 85 chapters. Unless something unexpected happens that prevents me from being able to do this, I fully expect to be able to have this done by January or February of next year. At that time, I hope to share the work with some more beta readers, then get some freelance editors to go over the manuscript.
If I decide not to submit the novel to publishers (I’m still undecided on that), then I intend to have the book ready as an ebook and print-on-demand book (either with CreateSpace or Lightning Source) in May of 2011. It’s good to feel like I can finally estimate where the finish line is. Now I just have to keep running the marathon every day. Or as my old friend Dennis Lindsey would have said, “Every day, every day, every day, every day.”
Thanks to everyone who has supported me along the way. There are too many people to mention!
And if you have any news about your own writing journey, please feel free to share it with me in the comments.