So it is finally done. The first draft is complete. That was a bit of a slog in the end but it was certainly worth it.
I really need to thank all the people who motivated me all the way through. But I don’t want to do it yet because this isn’t over just yet!
I started this particular novel back in 2001 and a mere eight years later the first draft is complete. I ended up writing about a third of it over the first seven years, around a third during the week Katherine was in Turkey earlier in the year, and the final third was done in the last 30 days.
And I have to say that this most recent system was by far the best. Writing five thousand words in a day is fine (kinda) but it doesn’t leave much juice in the tank for the next day. But even that strategy was better than the first one of writing about 3,000 per year. That can get quite dispiriting after the first six or seven years I can tell you.
I decided to focus on pages earlier in the year and that really worked well for me. I think that on an average work day I can crank about one and a half pages of A4 on my commute. But that’s around 750 words.
My thinking was that if I set a target of 1,000 words I would most days miss my target (weekends obviously I can write more). But using the pages method I would be ahead of my daily target every other day. I wasn’t saying I wrote in a vaccum this many words today or this many pages. If I was three lines away from the end of a page I would get my new page count really early the next day and that was very encouraging.
So it was probably a trick but it was a really handy one. On one dark day in the process I looked at where I had got to on a page and said, “that’s the end of a chapter”. Inserted a page break and wrote “Chapter X”. And that was my page complete for the day. And for people confused by this, it was the previous page now being declared finished that bumped up my count.
Have some rules and stick to them. It worked well for me, but that’s probably a conversation for another post.
Only twice in the entire process was I ahead, but I never let it get too far behind. Here’s what the 30 days looked like in detail…
The weird thing is when you break it down by weekday… I did a lot of writing on Sundays but actually because of that I did well on Mondays. I would start the morning finishing a page which encouraged me all day. Other days I didn’t have a page to donate to tomorrow. Also skewing the results Katherine went out twice on Mondays, and also there was 1 more Monday and Sunday in the 30 days than any other day. I have to wonder if I’d have been able to make it without that luck of dates!
It’s finished, and that’s all that matters.