My first four completed novels were written during National Novel Writing Month. For those of you who have never heard of Nano, the goal is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. It was fun and taught me how to write something from start to end, but by the fourth year, I was completely burned out and declared, “Never again!”
The next two novels’ (the epic, overly long fantasy and its sequel) first drafts took me about a half a year for each. I wrote when I could, sometimes stopping for a long period of time, but eventually I finished them. Of course, when I realized they were way too long, I had some serious editing to do, which I was in the middle of when I got the idea for The Sight Seer.
I was at work, daydreaming as usual, when the idea came to me. By the time my shift was over, I knew my three main characters, knew the major plot points. I got home and wrote, stopped for dinner, and wrote some more. The story consumed me, and I wrote every chance I could, only stopping for pesky things like headaches or, you know, Hurricane Irene threatening to wash my house away (it’s really hard to concentrate when you’re wondering if you have to evacuate or not!). I jotted down the day I started my new project, just to give myself an idea of how long it would take me to write this, and imagine my surprise when I wrote “The End” on Day Forty-Two.
I was so against forcing myself to write 50,000 words in 30 days, saying it killed my creativity and took away the fun of writing, and meanwhile, I had written 73,000 words in forty-two days. With Nano, you have to write 1666 words a day to reach 50,000 by the last day. With The Sight Seer, I was averaging 1738 words a day! Of course, some days I wrote 500 words and other days I wrote 4000 words, but do you see what I’m saying? I was adamant I would never do Nano again, and meanwhile, I did it anyway, without even realizing it!
Out of all the novels I’ve written, The Sight Seer was the one that possessed me. So, in a way, I guess I can understand why I wrote that much in such a short amount of time. The story was begging to be written, and as fast as possible. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write this quickly again (my current work in progress, written while querying, took me seventy-five days and it’s 20,000 words SHORTER than The Sight Seer!), so it’s definitely an experience to remember!
With each attempt so vastly different from the other, I’ve learned that I can’t compare my writing experiences. Some novels may take half a year, some may take a few short weeks. As long as it’s quality writing that I’m confident enough to share with others, then what does it matter? Find a pace that works for you, and run with it!