I promised back in January that I was going to start a new novel and that I’d write a future blog post about it. 6 months later and I’ve finally managed it. I’m not the greatest with the self-motivation, which is why I’ve never made much progress with novels in the past. I’ve never really gotten beyond the 8 or 10,000 word mark before losing interest/confidence/motivation/all-of-the-above. The closest I came to a novel-length story was a 3 part Catatonia fanfic I wrote in about 2000/2001! That totalled just over 18,000 words, though was also left unfinished. You can see why I’ve gravitated more towards short stories in recent years. (Side note: I just found a Catatonia/X-Files crossover fic that I wrote (unfinished, of course) and I think that’s gotta be the definition of Peak Chantal.)
However, as mentioned back in that January post, it’s always been an ambition of mine to write a novel, so I should probably get cracking and attempt to instill some discipline in myself. After reading various bits of writing advice online, I’m adopting the following 2 key approaches:
- Setting myself a target of just 300 words per day. So low it’s non-daunting and actually achievable and will slowly add up. Plus I can obviously exceed it when I want to.
- Allowing the first draft to be awful. I have far too much of a tendency to re-read and re-write things I’ve already written, rather than just carrying on and getting the bare bones on the page.
I started writing the novel about 3 weeks ago and I’m up to about 4,400 words. Considering I took a week off when I went to Budapest, so it’s only really 2 weeks worth of writing, I’m really happy with that. I have a vague notion of where I want the story to go, but don’t have it firmly mapped out, which I quite like. I find that I lose interest if I have things too planned out in advance – it feels like I’ve already written it. Fingers crossed I can carry on with this approach and actually have something resembling a first draft by this time next year.
I’m not currently going to give any details about the novel, as it’s still too early days, but I am going to share a very brief part of the previous novel I started. I spent a long time working on that novel, even if it was mostly just disjointed thoughts and notes and rambling catharsis. Reading back through what I wrote, there was very little I was still happy with. One little paragraph I did like, however, was the one below. I felt sad that it might never be read by anyone other than me, so here it is (for those few awesome people who read my blog).
Nothing good ever happens before midday. Even sex isn’t as much fun in the morning – it seems wrong somehow – too wholesome. More fun than going to the gym or having a swim, granted, but it still has a healthy fitness edge to it. You follow it up by showering, getting dressed and having breakfast! It just seems backwards. Sex should never be followed by getting dressed, unless you’re outside and it’s for reasons of public decency.
To be frank, it’s mostly just the last line I like. Years of work and contemplation and I come up with one line I’m happy with! Writing’s fun, eh?