When I first began this new novel, I picked a random genre and planned to write 60,000 words. Because 60,000 seemed a reasonable number. My plan was wrapped in a pretty pink bow with no questions asked, and I was comfortable and settled in my new goals. It did not take long; however, to realize the story had other ideas.
My novel has since morphed into a completely different genre, in which 60,000 words is not an appropriate word count, according to the many guidelines I’ve read online. And so, my original idea has led to an interesting turn of events.
How did this happen, I wondered.
It happened because the story is in the driver’s seat. I am not plotting this novel, but rather, am letting my intuition guide me completely. Whatever words come to mind, I write, without any idea of where this is headed. So far the process has been quite fascinating cluing me in to several key aspects of my writing:
- Writing style (or “voice”): I picked a different genre for the wrong reasons. My writing is dark and often touches upon topics I find disturbing. My wanting to write in a “lighter” genre was my attempt at stifling my own voice due to fear. Lesson learned. Trying to control your writing at the expense of being inauthentic does not work.
- Writing time: The early morning hours are a much more productive time. Between 5:30-11 AM is my sweet spot.
- Writing rhythm: When I feel completely mired and overwhelmed by writing, I need to make a change and try another creative endeavor (i.e. painting/drawing); exercise; or allow myself to stare into space/daydream without any guilt. This rejuvenates and refreshes me allowing the next day’s writing to be easier.
- Characters are in control: Genre and word count are tools to help categorize and give a constructive measurement to use when writing. This story is evolving around the characters. It is a window into their lives; their emotions; and their growth/experiences. I am more focused on them and allowing the story to revolve around their actions and wants rather than plotting the narrative.
- Daily/Weekly word count increases with practice and consistency: Simply put: the more I try to write; the more I write. Practice. Practice. Practice. As consistently as possible.
My new writing goal is 90,000 words. I am only a quarter-ways into the first draft so we’ll see what the story decides.