Writing a novel is bit like running a marathon, except you do it entirely sitting on your arse and no one hands you bottles of water when your energy’s flagging. You do, however, frequently shit yourself.
It feels like I’ve been working on my current WIP for ages, but I didn’t start the actual writing phase until the beginning of this year. (As opposed to the staring-out-of-the-window-aimlessly phase.) By the end of September, I will have been working on this thing for nine months. Also by then, to have any chance of meeting my deadline of delivering the book to the publisher on 31 October, I will need to have completed the first draft.
Yes, my deadline is the same as Brexit.
If I manage to stick to the schedule, that will give me a month to tighten it up, fill in a few gaps and spot any egregious errors.
I won’t have been working on it for nine solid months, you understand. Most of my writing is done one day a week, topping up at weekends when I can. One day a week for nine months is 4×9 = 36 days. Let’s add half as much again to represent the weekend writing. That makes a total of 54 days. If I’d been working on the novel full time, spending five days a week on it, that would represent 11 weeks’ work. That’s just short of three months.
It occurs to me that if I was able to keep that rate up over a whole year and was working full time on novel writing, I would theoretically be able to complete four novels a year, with a little bit of slack. Three books a year would even allow me to take a few holidays.
Of course, if I was writing at this pace, I would almost certainly have a complete breakdown.
I’d be found huddled in the corner, my face in my hands, sobbing, “I can’t do this! I can’t do this!”
Actually, that’s pretty much what happens anyhow.
The point of all these calculations is – uhm, I’ve forgotten. I think I thought it would make me feel better. Maybe it does. Or maybe I’m already having my breakdown?
But there is a difference between saying “I’ve been working on this book for nine months” and the reality which is that it’s only been 11 weeks spread out over nine months. It doesn’t reduce the achievement. It just helps to put it in perspective.
By some miracle, I seem to have accumulated over 90,000 words.
My hope is that they make some sort of sense. Frankly, if they don’t, I’m screwed. There’s no room in the schedule for them not to be making at least basic sense.
More importantly, the story is moving into its final phase, which is just as well as there are only two more official writing days left to me. I confess I’ve added some extra ones by taking a few days off from my day job.
I’m beginning to think I can do this. Someone throw me a bottle of water and an energy bar.