This is Day 51
– just over the half way point of my 100 Day Challenge.
For those who joined me in this challenge … How are YOU doing???
I started the 100 Day – 100 Word Writing Challenge because in spite of my many successes writing non-fiction, I have never been able to complete a novel. Over the years I have started a dozen or more times. I never finished, never even got to the 25% point. I finally decided that I had to find a way to do it. I was determined to break through the barriers that stopped me in the past. I figured that I could do 100 words a day. It doesn’t seem like much, but small things add up. My rationale was, if I just stuck to it, and did 100-words EVERY day for 100 days, I could get half a novella of 20,000 words done.
I am thrilled to report that not only have I completed the first draft of my first romance novella, but I am a few days away from finishing the first draft of a second one.
Here is how it has broken down so far:
On 6 days I wrote 100 words and stopped. These were my “extremely challenged” days. On one of those days I completed my 100 words 5 minutes short of midnight.
On 8 days I wrote between 200 – 500 words.
On 5 days I was inspired, and motivated and wrote just over 1500 words
And on 32 days I wrote 1000 – 1100 words.
Some of my “extremely challenged” days involved travel and a friend whose brother was in a serious car accident.
WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT WRITING CONSISTENCY
I learned that for ME I had to establish a routine that involved mornings. I now get up, put my coffee maker on, and then do 15 minutes of rev-it-up cardio exercises. With coffee in hand I sit down and write. When I do this, I can churn out 1000 words in 60 – 90 minutes. As I am getting better at doing fiction “drafts” I am getting faster.
From time to time I have felt inspired and have gone on to 1500. At this point I need to take a break and get to “work.”
My absolute worst day was near the beginning. I made the mistake of opening my email first. Then I kept on putting off my writing again and again. Just the thought of writing started getting heavier and heavier every time I thought about it. Finally at 11:30 pm I looked at my clock, and looked at my calendar with 8 wonderful red X’s on it … and I got started. I struggled with 100 words, something I can normally do in about 10 minutes. At 5 minutes to midnight I finished.
The crazy thing was that I spent more time on procrastinating, feeling BAD and beating myself up, than I did with the actual writing. Lesson learned.
There have since been several mornings were my “routine” has not been possible (travel and my friend’s emergency) but I have managed to do my 100-words in odd moments though the day. On really awkward days I just pull out my ever present note book and write my 100-words long-hand. Later in the day, or the next day I transcribe my scribble and often write a few more bonus words.
Most days I write at my desk, but have learned that I can manage to write in MacDonald’s, in hotel rooms, and while babysitting toddlers.
Why was THIS time a success after so many novel writing failures?
First of all I REALLY COMMITTED. Instead of “trying to write a novel,” I decided “I WOULD write a novel.”
The second part of the success equation was that I decided 100-words a day was SUCCESS.
The third part of my success equation, was that I decided that this was a first draft and that I was allowed to make massive mistakes and to write utter garbage … which I would fix in the second and third drafts.
I have been writing non-fiction for over 40 years. From books to television scripts to articles to corporate and government documents of all kinds. Over those years I have honed my craft to the point where 90% of the time, my first draft is my final draft. I structure as I go. I edit as I go. Last word written is it.
I had to learn that writing fiction is a BIT different. Even having read thousands of novels, I had to LEARN to write one. Where does that “” go? Sheesh, talk about feeling stupid. This time instead of getting bogged down in minutiae I am learning to ignore it.
A major “stopping point” in past attempts has been research. I’d come to a point in my novel where I had to find a character name, or a historic fact, or a science fact. That would get me onto the internet or into the library, where I would get bogged down in details I didn’t need. This time when I come to something that needs looking up I simply write [find it] and then make a note in Scrivener. I can look it up later in the day, or wait until the next draft to find out if I really need the information.
Another major stopping point has been dialogue. Dialogue in a television script is quite different than in a novel. Again, I decided to ignore the details of dialogue. I’ll fix it in the next draft.
Ditto with punctuation. I might even be so bold as to hire an editor!
Scrivener has been a fabulous help to getting my novels written. I have been using it for over a year for my non-fiction work. Writing blogs, doing client work has become easier with Scriveners fabulous capabilities. Scrivener is a godsend for my novels (3 book series) where I have to keep track of characters, places, timing and events, and plot.
My biggest challenge with writing a novel has been to “just write.” Don’t edit, don’t worry about grammar, don’t worry about plot or dialogue … just keep going, just keep writing. It is the barrier I struggle with daily.
Are my novellas any good? Hmmm. They need some work. The first one I did without thinking about plot. Astonishingly it actually worked out.
By the time I started on my second novella, I had read three books on plotting – one specifically on plotting romances. I had a very basic outline completed when I started book two, and I fluffed out some details as I went along. At least I had an “idea” of what I was going to write the next day before I got started. I already have developed a plot and outline for the final book in the series. So though each book is getting better, I still have a LOT to learn.
I’d love to hear from YOU
How are YOU doing with your 100 Day Writing Challenge? What are some of the lessons you’ve learned? What are some of the obstacles you are running up against? Please add your comments and an update on how you are doing!
Here are some of the writing resources I talked about:
Scrivener is an amazing software for writers. It has revolutionized how I write and do research for both my non-fiction and fiction writing. Scrivener costs a paltry $40 and is worth way way more. The challenge of Scrivener is learning how to use it. Since it is NOT like usual word processors (WORD) it is not intuitive. Here is a book that helped me immensely with the learning process. Scrivener Superpowers: How to Use Cutting-Edge Software to Energize Your Creative Writing Practice
To start learning how to plot I got award winning K.M Weiland’s free book 5 Secrets of Story Structure: How to Write a Novel That Stands Out which talks about a three act story structure.
Based on the excellent content in the 5 Secrets book I got K.M. Weiland’s two-book set: Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success and the Outlining Your Novel Workbook, which helps put it all into action.
And finally, since I am writing romances, I got Gwen Hayes book, Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels which explains how the romance arc is different from other plots.