I thought I could do that again.
This year, at the end of March, I finally figured out a plot for my new story, a YA contemporary set around storm chasing, and I was so excited to write it! I was completely prepared. I’d carry my notebook around, and I’d use the same method I’d used for Starstruck: find my magical cookies, outline every chapter briefly before starting it, and write.
Boy, was I wrong.
Despite knowing my plot, despite being more experienced, that book did not happen in eight weeks. I finished it yesterday, four months later, at 66K compared to 78K for Starstruck.
No, Under The Dark Clouds seemed intent on giving me a hard time. I kicked it off in April with CampNaNoWriMo, setting my goal at 20K to get back into writing. I need time to get into my writing flow. At the end of April, I ‘won’ NaNo with a little over 23,000 words, and I was flying.
And then I froze and crashed. Hard.
Somewhere in the second half of April, I had convinced myself I could finish a first draft for UTDC before I would go on holiday to Spain on 20 May.
That didn’t happen.
In fact, I hardly wrote anything at all. My holiday in Spain was a much-needed break of my serious attempt at not failing at being an adult, and I wrote a couple of chapters while I was enjoying the lovely sunshine, sea and beach. So, end of May, I had maybe 25-30K.
June was a little better, and all in all I must have added around 12K.
But YALC was drawing closer, and I really wanted to finish a first draft before I would go there—before I would have another short week off of work. When I finish a draft, I like to have one or two weeks off, just so that I can create some distance before I dive into edits.
I signed up for another Camp NaNo round, and I kicked July off with 42K. During May, June and July, I often didn’t think I would even get to 65K—the minimum word count I was aiming for. There were times I thought I would finish my first version somewhere between 35-45K. As time passed and I hit 40K, just before NaNo started, I became a bit more confident and aimed to finish a first draft at 55K.
But then the magic happened, and I was flying again, even though I loved the book one day and wanted to rip it apart the next. Constantly. I’m not kidding you—this first draft has been a huge struggle, and I’m so, so relieved I finally have a finished draft. Now I can start fixing it.
Yesterday, on 24 July, I finished my first draft at 66K, and I already know some things need to be added and others need to be more fleshed out. But that’s okay.
The funny thing about all of this?
I did not once use my notebook! Well, except for the beginning to figure out my magical cookies. But from there, when I found the outlining thing didn’t work this time, I just… let go, and kept my cookies in mind as I wrote. In my mind, I’d analyse my emotional dominos when I felt like I was stuck (although the frustration that came with being stuck was… intense.) Not one chapter was outlined before I wrote it.
So there you have it—I had a plan, but it never worked. And it just shows how different books can be, and that sometimes you need to be flexible and let go of a method even if you think it’s… magical.
With that said, I’m going to enjoy my writing-free week! There’s one more day at work tomorrow, and them I’m off to London for YALC. Books! Workshops! Agent rounds! AUTHORS!
Tell me: what is your experience with writing different stories or books? Can you use the same method for all of them?