Help! I’m almost at 35,000 words and my characters haven’t even begun to unravel the mystery of my novel (and neither have I, for that matter. I still don’t know what happens in the last third of the story, and this novel has no title and therefore no excerpt posted on my profile). This came unexpectedly, since I was under the impression that I was writing a fun short novel that would be fast-paced and entertaining.
And I don’t really think it’s either fast-paced or entertaining, to tell the truth.
But this is the middle of the month –okay, a bit more than the middle, but whatever– and I think it’s normal to feel incredibly insecure about how things are going at this point. So in an effort to make myself feel more motivated, I’m going to brag a little (in second person). And hopefully my bragging will make you feel like bragging as well, because if there’s one thing you can always count on, it’s human ego! And then we can make each other feel better about our writing progress, whether you’re doing NaNoWriMo or not, and arrogance will actually be a helpful thing, for once.
1. You’ve written a ton of words. So maybe you thought your novel was going to finish at around 50,000 words, and now you’re thinking the word ‘end’ will probably end up being word #108,245. Yes, you have a lot of work ahead, but think of how proud you’ll be when you get to open your Word document (or whatever) and see all the pretty numbers, and scroll through an impressive amount of text and feel extremely proud of yourself. Just don’t zoom in too close; avoid looking at all those typos and bizarre metaphors.
2. You’ll have more material to edit later. Which sounds like a punishment, I know, but it’s actually a blessing in disguise! This way, you’ll be able to pick and choose which scenes you want to keep, which paragraphs need to be shortened and which characters can be cut out all together, without feeling like you’re cutting off your novel’s limbs. You’ll actually want to make it shorter, so your finished product will be a concentrated version of all the things that make a good story: emotion, action, dialogue and great characterization. And you won’t even have to think up new scenes!
3. You’re exercising your writing muscles! They say that to become a good writer, you need to write every day. Not only are you currently writing every day, but you’re also writing a lot every day. And that’s an excellent achievement. Sadly, it doesn’t mean that it counts as actual exercise… so make sure you’re not eating too many snacks at 3 a.m.
like I am.
4. You’re creating more for your story. Even if this first draft ends up being one of those novels that gets completely rewritten, and ends up looking like some badly-written Alternate Universe fanfic of your future published material, this will be what that successful bestseller will be born from. You’re getting to know your characters, expanding their stories, realizing what you need to learn more about and writing a couple of really funny or poetic lines in the midst of all that rambling and rather rushed description. This is like the first time you try to cook something by doing it straight from the recipe: you’ll do your best, you’ll be totally confused most of the time, and you’ll probably get the measurements all wrong. But next time, when you try again, you’ll know how much you should put of everything and it’ll all go much more smoothly.
So for now, I’m happy just aiming to just write as much as possible, no matter how far behind I am in the actual story. And you should join me in looking at my dashboard and smiling self-centered-ly because we’re achieving something.