I am Sarah’s failure to write a novel*

*in two months.

As you may know, back in November I set a goal for myself: to write a 100K word novel in two months. I had a break in school from the beginning of November until January 3rd, and though I knew it was likely impossible, this  was the only time available, so I tried.

You have to make lofty goals otherwise you might hit yourself in the foot, or something.

Not shockingly, I didn’t finish the novel in only two months. I barely cleared 30K, in fact. Am I discouraged? A little. But mainly, I learned some very useful lessons, which was really the entire point of the experiment.

1. If I really push myself, I can write about 25K in one month (in a month without classes).

2. Write-ins work. Other writers like them, and so do I. These are definitely something I will continue doing. I write about 3,000 words in a four-hour write-in.

3. I can write a novel, it’s just going to take me more than two months.

4. November and December, with three major holidays and my favorite convention, are really the worst possible months in which to try to write a novel, unless I want to neglect and infuriate all my friends and family.

5. I love writing short stories. If I avoid writing them, I end up like a bulimic, desperately binging after a long purge, which led to the almost complete neglect of the novel in December after an otherwise successful November. I need to pace myself, allowing myself to write one or two short stories each month while also working on the novel.

6. I’m pushing myself too hard. It’s damaging my sanity. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the journey is as important as the destination. If I’m not enjoying the process of writing the novel, then why am I doing it? I need to find the love again.

So where do I go from here? I’m going to keep working on the novel. Slowly but surely, I’ll get it done. I don’t have much time to dedicate to it right now, with two classes and a full-time job, but there are breaks in school, and I’m trying to find ways in the future to balance my life a bit more. More on that later (hopefully).

If I didn’t have school, I could probably complete the novel in four months. With school and work and other projects, I should probably give myself eight months, at least. If I can finish the darn thing, and start the first round of rewriting/edits, by next year, I will be pleased. Do I want to put it off so much? No, not particularly. I wish I could finish it sooner. But, as much as I want to be rid of them, I have to balance the other aspects of my life or I’m going to lose my mind. Or, at least, make myself miserable desperately grasping for a future that has yet to be (and might never happen).

Slow and steady wins the race! Don’t count me out of the Novelist Club just yet.

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4 thoughts on “I am Sarah’s failure to write a novel*

  1. I once managed 100k in a little over two months, and that novel was by far the worst thing I’ve ever written. Slow and steady does win the race–not to mention, it gives us the time to enjoy what we’re writing. It makes it feel more like a process than a product. Sounds like your experiment with glut-writing put you in a good place!

    Plus, who says you need to write a novel? Lots of writers just do short stories. It’s a delicate and challenging art form, way harder than novels.

    • Thanks for the input Lorna! I imagine I would come to hate a novel passionately if I put in the kind of intense hours it would require to write 100K in two months. Kudos for getting it done!

      I’d like to support myself with my writing, and unfortunately that’s nearly impossible to do with short stories. They simply don’t command enough money. If I can write novels, I might realistically be able to afford to become a full-time writer. This is a dream I might not be able to live, but I haven’t given up on it yet. I see completing the novel as the first step toward being able to support myself with writing, but the destination is so far away that it gets frustrating sometimes. I need to just relax and remember that it’s not a race. I’ll get there when I get there!

    • Thanks for reading Chante! Don’t worry, we’ll get there! Just don’t give up, and keep working. Even a few words a month will, eventually, lead to a novel, though that might be a pace slower than either of us could accept. 😛

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