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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Sunday, January 9, 2011

NovelTrack: The 31 day, 50,000 word push

Here we are, the first full week of 2011 safely tucked under our belts.

January is ACFW's NovelTrack-Writing Month (one of four, the others being April, July and October). The goal is to set a specific word count goal and report it, so that you are accountable to others for reaching your goal. The point is to help you as a writer push away your inner editor, your distractions, and just write. Each participant can set their own word count goal. 10,000 or 50,000, the choice is yours.

I chose an intentionally difficult word count, at 50,000 words.

Your first thought might be, "Are you nuts?" (hey, it's a fair statement. That was my first thought to myself!)

After all, I'm trying to juggle a full time job, church commitments, and the mundanes of daily living along with all this writing time. And pushing myself for 50,000 words hardly seems in keeping with my 2011 goal of being "Rested, not ragged," as I was for most of 2010.

But I have been feeling for a few months now that the time had come to push myself--hard--with my writing.


Well there may be underlying reasons that even I don't understand yet. But I've been thinking a lot about the process of writing my first novel, which took six years. Yep. Six. Too long.

Worse, probably the first 3 years of that time was spent writing my first draft, on again, off again. WIth many chances for the flow of the story to grow cold and have to be re-ignited again. I'm not talking about my passion for the story---that burned bright throughout. But having a passion for your story is not the same as keeping the nitty gritty detail of it burning in the forefront of your mind for 36 months.

I believe it was a mistake to allow myself to drag the first draft out for that long, and I do not want to make the same mistake with my 2nd novel. Whether in years or months, my first drafts are always going to be messy and need re-writing, so to me, it is better to hammer it out over a handful of months.

So how does that 50,000 word count goal shake out on a daily basis?

I will write 6 days a week. That gives me 26 days in January, divided by 50,000 is roughly 1,925 words a day. So by the close of January 8th, I should be at 13,475 words.

Actual? I'm 2,965 words behind, my word count standing for the moment at 10,510 words.

But still, not bad for my very first week of beginning to instill the habit of daily writing. Especially good considering I've been very much under the weather all week.

And today (Jan. 8th) was one of the best writing days I've had in a long, long time. It's hard when writing to totally disconnect from the mundane cares of everyday life and totally immerse yourself in your fictional world. But today I was able to do that for a good chunk of time and it felt wonderful!

That totally immersed and absorbed feeling of disappearing into that fictional world is one of the chief benefits of being a writer, aka escape artist.

I hope for many more such escape artist days during the month of January and beyond.

May your writing and your lives be blessed in 2011.


Dana said...

Hi, Brenda. 50,000 words is indeed agressive! But if you make it, what an accomplishment! Question: when you entered the Genesis contest, was your novel complete?

B.K. Jackson said...


Yes. And no. 8-) The full manuscript had been finished and rewritten several times, but I did another set of marathon revisions over approximately a 2 week period when the manuscript was requested a few months later. And in truth, I'd like to revise it again, but I want to get my next manuscript's first draft done first.

Oye. I can never give a simple answer...