A couple of years ago, over at my author blog, I shared my experience writing Scarred Beauty (Wylder Tales #2). I had recently devoured Rachel Aaron’s 2,000 – 10,000. In the spirit of National Novel Writing Month, and as I’m currently in the thick of writing my third Wylder Tales, I thought it fitting to revisit my old challenge. Hopefully, I find the inspiration I’ve been looking for. But first, a little backstory.
Wylder Tales is the first full-length novel series I’ve published. I wrote the first volume, Craving Beauty in 2013 back but didn’t know what to do with it. After a year’s writing hiatus, I republished with a new name and a companion novella, Wolfsbane’s Daughter.
In 2016, I finally published the sequel, Scarred Beauty. Unlike my experience writing the first novel, the words seemed to flow. My goal had been to finish much sooner, of course. I was doing good to put in a thousand words a day with everything else I was writing/real life happenings. Then I changed tactics.
here’s what I done did
Since I came back from hiatus, I’ve kept a writing log on an excel spreadsheet, just like a work time sheet. Every day I clock in and out, record how many words I write, and attach little notes about progress or reasons for the lack thereof. Two years ago, I decided to stop lollygagging around and push for 2 thousand words per day.
Granted, 2K doesn’t sound like a lot.
I’ve read self-help books that teach you how to supposedly write 10K per day. So far I’ve only managed 10K in a day once in my writing career. I felt like a superhero and also a little crazy for it. In real life, I just don’t have time to write that much. It’s enough of a challenge to work from home with my toddler running around, let alone throw my head into a story long enough to put in decent word counts.
Before I dove into this new challenge, I made it past the big climax of the story, which you don’t get any teasers for because spoilers! obviously. This helped a lot though because I was dealing with aftermath stuff. You know, after you put your characters through the gauntlet and then if you’re nice, allow them to process what the heck just happened. To my shock and surprise, I was able to meet 2K that first night, easy peasy. A lot of this was because I was mostly writing dialogue. I can see why so many authors rely on heavy dialogue with less prose these days because it can be easier to write.
If you look at your dialogue like a screenplay you can catch the ebb and flow better.
Also, because you’re writing so much through a character’s perspective, it helps to make sure the dialogue can stand on its own. Can you read what everyone says and it still make sense? Because if you can’t, you may need to give that scene a little extra help. Not like your characters have to describe everything going on in their heads, but it’s easy to dwell too much in the protagonist’s P.O.V. Also, if you make them process certain things out loud, not only is it therapeutic for your character 😉 but it allows you to “show” by “telling” in a way that’s not annoying to picky readers like me.
and then what happened
I wrote 2K every day for four days. I knocked out all those tricky after the battle scenes and made my characters deal while leaving enough mystery. Now I’ll be honest, after four days pumping out eight thousand words, I needed a break. I wrote less than a thousand the next day and let my brain re-coop over the weekend. But I managed to reach over 50K in the novel! What’s more, I was able to pick back up again this week after some of those pesky revisions. Could only manage 1K the first night, but last night was back to 2K.
Sometimes it really is a matter of bucking down and doing it.
The secret to success for reaching word count goals isn’t necessarily being a super fast writer. I’m no speed demon, but I had a solid outline. I knew my characters backward and forwards. I knew where to take the story. Sometimes it just falls together like that. Probably the biggest motivator is that deadline. It really helps if you have to get your pages to your editor by a certain date. No room for procrastination then, right? Another thing that might have maybe helped is I didn’t write much of anything for a week beforehand, just stewed over the story in my head. Meanwhile, I read a lot, watched good shows, filled my head with gorgeous art.
a final word
If you’re working on your own story and reading this in hopes to glean from this post, I hope you were able to carry something away from my experience. All I can tell you is not to give up or feel discouraged. If you write even five hundred words every day, that brings you that much closer. At the end of the day, it isn’t about word count, it’s about the story. Surround yourself with different art forms, be inspired by the world around you and most importantly write because you love it. Remember friends, without great risk, there can be no reward. The best things in life are worth fighting for, even if the battle is within yourself. When we understand ourselves, how we create and what we need to be inspired; when we acknowledge the good and the bad, we learn how to overcome. Let’s tackle these word count goals one hour, one day at a time! Good luck!