A couple of weeks back, I fell behind on my novel-writing schedule. My goal was to polish a draft from my extensive hand-written notes and passages. I always write in a black Moleskine notebook with a Uniball Vision Rollerball pen, waterproof, fadeproof, with a micro point (.5 mm) tip. Usually, I write a sentence 7 or 8 times, crossing out my previous attempts, until the words form a construction I can live with. By the time I type it into a word processor, the sentence itself is several drafts ahead—in this way, I tell myself, even though it makes me a slower writer, the finished product has higher-quality workmanship. There is no scientific way to prove this.
I also keep my daily word counts in an Excel spreadsheet, a deadline-based form that calculates my goals on a rolling basis. It takes a deadline I set for myself (e.g., January 15, 2013) and then calculates how many words I need to write per day to reach my goal. On each line, a box turns from FALSE to TRUE if I hit that daily word count number. On the main page, a couple of charts tell me my overall percent progress into the book or project. Right now, those numbers are too low, and there’s far too many red boxes with the word FALSE in them. But I’m not giving up. I’m redoubling my efforts.
It’s time for a hard return to writing. Especially now, as so many people gear up for National Novel-Writing Month, or, as the abbreviation-obsessed call it, “NaNoWriMo.” So this week I set about writing and thinking about writing even as I struggled to keep from getting sick. Even as I planned to remodel my house, even as I worked at my full-time job during the day. I just forced myself to find the time. I also forced myself to read, and I’m about 75 pages into The Best American Short Stories 2012.
In the hours in-between, late at night, or early in the morning, I pitched freelance work. I sent out queries, and, in some cases, heard encouraging things from editors. I also set to work on the novel again. There’s nothing quite like the swollen, bloated, complicated anatomy of a novel, the sheer size and scope of it, the number of words a novel comprises—100,000 words for a 300-page book—and the number of ways you can go wrong when writing a creature like that into existence.
If you feel so inspired, feel free to share your stories of deadlines and goals with me in the comments section. I’d love to hear how your work is going. But even as I type this, I know that, if I write tonight, I might be able to get back in lockstep with my word-count deadline.
So it’s time to wrap this blog post up and get back to writing.