07 March 2011

The Deal

Shortly before we all flipped our calendars over to the first day of 2011, I mentioned to my teenaged son that I would love to write at least two books a year for the rest of my career.

He shrugged. “That’s easy to say, but can you do it? Say, for the next five years?”

“Is that a challenge?” I asked, raising my eyebrows.

“That’s ten books, Mom.”

I crossed my arms. “I may be old and feeble, but I can still count.”

“Ten,” he repeated. “In five years.”

“Easy peasy.” But maybe it wasn’t. I’d written many books over the years but never on a deadline. I had no idea how fast I could write under the gun. Oh, and edit. I might have forgotten about the editing ten books part.

He put out his hand. “Wanna shake on it?”

Who was this kid? I slid my hand into his. “Deal!”

And so in a fit of insanity, (I blame the eggnog) the deal was done. Could I do it with a day job, kids, and the usual daily life stuff?

I figured it out mathematically. If I wrote 2-3 pages a day times six days a week (I don’t work on Sundays), I’d end up with 12- 18 pages each week. Let’s call it 15 pages a week. In five months, I’d have written a 300-page draft.

I set to work on the first book to see how closely reality matched the figures in my head.

The beginning was a little slow. Lots of fits and starts, stopping to research, watching videos on my chosen locale, looking up words, and translating a foreign language. I did manage to get my 2 pages a day in.

Once I got into the story, however, the words started flowing and 2 quickly jumped to 10 pages a day. On one particularly glorious day, I completed 25 pages before I fell into bed that night. My mind was humming and I was a little delirious, but it felt good to accomplish so much.

In six weeks, I’d written 300 pages. I can honestly say that the first draft of the first book is done!

And I learned a couple of things as I went. To be honest, I’m not a great plotter, but I do a rough sketch of the scenes I know have to be in the book before I begin. The more scenes I sketch out, the easier it is to write faster. I also have to know my characters strengths, weaknesses, motivations and goals before I can begin. And the conflict must be sharp and growing in my mind before I put those first words on the page. After that, it’s all butt-in-the seat time.

It’s doable. It really is.

So what’s stopping you?


No comments: