A new novel beckons: Curse of the blinking cursor
Every so often I encounter the blank page. More so when I’m about to embark on a new project. And every single time (and even though I now have 6 completed novels written) it affords me the same sense of excitement mixed with a dash of oh-my-god-how-am-I-going-to-finish-this! It’s just so much of blank emptiness that needs to be filled that’s so easy to make a writer doubtful.
I’m busy outlining Lost Soul, the second book in the DarkWorld series. It’s so much fun playing with characters and scenes, defining motivations and refining plot lines. But once it’s done, the next step is to open up that document and face the blinking cursor.
Breaking it Down
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It’s upwards of 90 thousand words, roughly 100 hours of writing time for me. that’s a huge job to face down. Breaking it down into manageable bits makes it feel less daunting, makes the task seem less insurmountable.
If I’m concentrating on one particular project I like to set a goal, maybe 5000 words per day. If I don’t hit that goal I readjust my numbers as I write but I keep track. I’m a spreadsheet nut so I love drawing up a list of days with my targets, actuals and running totals. Watching my progress keeps me in line, makes me want to hit my target and makes the ginormous job so much easier to complete.
The Mid-novel Slump
Some writers have this problem and although I called it the mid novel slump, we tend to experience this slump at different times for different projects. Some writers hit the one third mark and sit back frustrated because it suddenly feels like you’re running on empty. I usually reach this point at around 60K. The end is in sight and yet finishing seems like I’m climbing the steepest mountain.
At this point I am often tempted to begin my revisions, and sometimes this has worked. I’ve gone back, tightened the plot, fixed plot holes and motivations which may make the final 30k much easier to write.
Sometimes this is a bad idea, mainly because it’s a reason to keep fiddling and never finish the novel. This is an especially frustrating problem for new writers so I’d suggest newbies don’t take this route, just write to done and then revise.
If you don’t have a problem finishing, if you don’t fall into the cycle of fix fix fix without reaching the end, then going back to revise may be a good thing for both you and your novel. It gives me the opportunity to read what I’ve written, to remember the cool stuff I wrote, to refine those awesome story threads that I may have forgotten (believe me this happens pretty often) as I’ve been barrelling along meeting my daily wordcount goals without a backward glance.
For now I’m rounding up Dead Chaos (Valkyrie #3) and plotting Lost Soul (DarkWorld #2) and maybe I’ll throw in a revision for Seals of Hades (Irin #1). Let’s see how things go…