I am working on my debut novel, book one of a dystopian survival trilogy, which I am not prepared to share the details just yet. This story has been bouncing around in my head for nearly two years. In that time, I have gathered a ton of notes about the story, characters, and scene ideas. This list has grown in size and randomness, meaning they weren’t placed in a linear order.
After a couple of failed starts, I buckled down in June making writing a daily priority. I have set and track loose weekly goals, though I don’t beat myself up over it if I fall short. Consistency is vital, I have read, and I am proud that I have been consistent in my writing, with occasional days off for pressing matters and family time. Overall I do write for at least an hour on weekdays (workdays), and 2-3 hours on weekend days. I am pleased with my progress.
Knowing my personality and how my brain works, I had to make some changes to how I approach successful writing. I looked at what led to my failed attempts in the past to see what I could do to cross the finish line of writing my first novel. I am a person who can get bogged down by over-organizing, over-thinking, over-planning, and having to learn everything there is before starting; in other words, being too much of a perfectionist. I have read, listened to, and watched so many books, podcasts, and videos trying to learn the craft of writing , that it took up most of my time writing time.
Sometimes the topic I dove into had no relevance for where I was in the writing process. For example, how to market your book or self-publishing tips. I haven’t even written the book yet. Or I dive in the worm-hole that is the writing community on social media. I am NOT saying this is terrible, but if not managed, it is a total time suck. Additionally, I stopped following or doing writing prompts. Once again, NOT a bad thing, but NONE of this was getting me to my goal of writing my first novel.
When I set out in June to build a habit of writing consistently so I could get to writing the words The End, I told myself enough trying to learn to write a novel, it is time to write a book. Focus on the task at hand, write the first draft. Editing, publishing, marketing, etc. can all wait until I have the first draft.
I started by working on my theme, for the overall story in book one, and a general concept of theme for books two and three. Done.
Next, I worked on my antagonists for the trilogy, focusing primarily on book one. I put in as much, if not slightly more time into the antagonist as I did the protagonist. The antagonist has a personal theme, a character arc, and their own wants and needs. Once this was complete, I moved on to developing the protagonist (in-depth) with a personal theme related to the overall theme, their character arc, wants, and needs. Antagonist & Protagonist Done.
That was followed up by fleshing out the rest of the main characters. Character Development Done.
I should mention while all the above was in progress, I was continually writing more notes about the plot and specific scenes.
As of last week, I started outlining the structure of the novel by organizing my notes from two years into specific beats within the structure of book one. If the notes didn’t have a place in book one, it was moved to book two or book three notes. Organizing notes within book one structure – Done.
I am currently working on the outline for Act I, breaking down what I want into structure beats and chapters. This is going really smooth, and I am having a blast putting this story into some form of coherence. I have set my goal to finish the outline at the end of September.
I am so excited to get going on the first draft, and I have set my goal for finishing the first draft at the end of the year. I am shooting for 90,000, and have broke that down into 7,000 words a week, which should get me to the target. To hold myself accountable, I have put my progress in the sidebar to the left under “Current Project.”
I am enjoying the process, I am motivated to write daily, and I can see this book morphing into reality.