This week, I officially sent off book three (*cough* Chaos Reigning *cough*) to my editor, so I thought you might like a peek behind the curtain of how a rough draft comes about. Thanks to Scrivener, I have a detailed history of my word count for each day.
It is not very pretty, but I hope it helps some of you who write as slow as I do. You don’t have to write like the wind. You can write like molasses in winter and still write a book, you just have to hang in there and keep going.
Finishing the draft (not including a week of edits) took 165 days, but I only wrote on 124 of them. I started on February 18 and finished on August 1. For a good chunk of the book I was writing every day, including weekends. I prefer to take weekends off, but a deadline waits for no woman.
Let’s start with the overview before diving into the details. The monthly breakdown looks like this:
You can see that I really struggled in May. I had edits for TQA and proofs for AB, plus I always struggle in the middle. You can also see why, at the beginning of June, I decided to see if I could push my deadline back from July 1. I hated to do it, but if I hadn’t, June might’ve killed me.
Luckily, there was some room in the schedule, so a later deadline gave me a bit of breathing room. I actually took some weekends in June off, but I was still stuck in the middle, so between the two, my word count was not good.
In July, I realized I had to get serious or I wasn’t going to make it, especially because the RWA conference would take up an entire week. Sadly, my brain did not get on board with this plan and I went into RWA in a mild panic. Where I met with my editor.
I tried to oh-so-subtly warn her that while I intended to hit the deadline come hell or high water, she might get a draft that had been finished a hot second before I hit send.
She must’ve seen the fear because she was super cool and told me not to worry about it.
Then I came back from RWA and wrote ~17% of the book in four days, and it was super easy (comparatively). That August word count is from one day. I wrote a third of the words I wrote in the entire month of May, in one day. I’m still slightly concerned that I actually fell into a coma and this is just a nice dream. You all are real, right? :)
Here is the daily word count breakdown for the rough draft of CR, along with a few comments about what was happening (click to enlarge):
As you can see, I only occasionally write more than 1,500 words a day, and I do this as a full-time job. Some days I’m lucky to write 500. Edits on another project completely derail me.
When I started, I had a paragraph blurb that I’d written a million years ago when pitching PR, so I had the basic idea of where I was going, but no details.
Writing like this means my subconscious does a lot of work behind the scenes. I think about the book in the shower, while doing dishes, and while falling asleep. This book, in particular, took a turn I didn’t expect, even though I perfectly set it up in book two.
But if anyone asks, I’m going to swear I had it planned all along. 😉