On June 27, 2016, I was hiking w/ the cub scout group my son is a part of, and I’d just done that same hike the night before with friends. It felt a bit like Groundhog Day going over that same trail again. I laughed. Then the wheels began turning. A new idea formed. With that idea came the next idea that it might be fun to chart this ONE project to see how long it actually takes from the conception of a new idea to when that idea hits shelves *fingers crossed*.
I often push myself HARD when I draft, trying to crank about between 5-12K a day. I’m not doing this. I began this project during the summer – I have a family and things I want to do. I’m saying 2k a day is enough, and once that 2k is done, I can walk away and play with my people.
6/27-7/4 2016 – I let the idea percolate in my brain. Thought about it on walks. While throwing balls for dogs. While walking dogs. While grocery shopping. While trying to sleep with extra dogs in the house.
7/3/2016 – I took a few hours to write up character profiles and do some loose outlining. The book is very reliant on the end being a twist, so I had to start with the end and work my way back. I’m also very much a character writer, so I have to build my characters before I can really write or do any kind of in-depth plotting (which seems to be a futile pursuit for me anyway). I wrote up about one page, in all caps, of basic plot points. The character sheets were longer.
7/4/2016 – Sat down and wrote up 2K while discussing hair color with my daughter.
7/5/2016 – woke up too early, banged out 1k. Trying to remind myself that this is FIRST DRAFT and nothing needs to be awesome. Finished this day at 4500 words. So tired after weekend of the 4th. And trying not to write TOO much because I get obsessed, and I have life things to do. I added to the all caps page of basic plot points.
7/6/2016 – 40 minute sprint in the morning – 2K. Ended this day with 7700 words. And they’re not perfect, and I’ll need to layer in, but they feel good.
7/7/2016 – Two short sprints of writing. Ended the day at 10,200.
7/8/2016 – Wrote 2k before getting out of bed (BEST!) Only writing I did was that first sprint. I ended the day at 12,400.
GOT COPYEDITS ON ALL THE FOREVER THINGS. Every time I’m in a groove on a new project, I get edits on an upcoming release. EVERY. TIME. I know this is a good problem to have, but still…
7/9/2016 – Started the day by writing 1k of the ending. I know this’ll change, but it still gives me something to work toward, AND it helped me add to the loose plot point page I’d worked up earlier. Today is SATURDAY, so I sat and wrote up another 1500 words, and I’m calling it good. Gotta read and gotta hang w/ the fam! 14,400
7/10/2016 – SUNDAY, so I never feel obligated to write. But still ended the day at 15,900.
7/11/2016 – My list of new things to thread through became big enough that I started at the beginning again. I went over the first 10K, and word count is now 16,700. Since I have copyedits, I doubt I’ll have time for more today 🙁 Ha! Sometimes when you take the pressure off yourself, the words just flow, and you can’t stop them. 22,800.
7/12/2016 – NADA – worked on copyedits.
7/13/2016 – Mapped out the next few chapters. Love 3rd POV for versatility in switching POVs b/c I’m adding another one. 23,400
7/14/2016 – Wrote up a scene I’d mapped out. 25,600
7/15/2016 – Did a ton of conference related stuff, and after a week of not feeling so great, felt well enough to work out. 27,700 – and feeling like I have VERY little left to write. Going to be a THIN first draft.
7/16/2016 – Saturday. Had LOADS of family stuff to do today. Opened MS, made a few notes, did a LOT of thinking on how to flesh this thing out because right now my rough draft is going to be a scant 40K… 28,600.
7/17/2016 – SUNDAY. Wrote a few notes on chapters through the end, and today I filled in some parts of those. I’m still missing some kind of important thread to tie this all in together. But sometimes out of order is awesome. I just wanted to hit 30K today. 30,400
7/18/2016 – Now that I have a solid handle on the ending and the main plot points, AND now that I know the characters better, I’m going to do more thorough character sketches. I have one down, so I’ll be starting at the beginning of the MS and writing/adding/tweaking as that one character, and then another, and then another… If I continue on just writing and not planning, I know I’ll have a mega-disaster. 32,200
7/19/2016 – Took the day off to hang with my kids in the sun 😀 Summers in Alaska are over far too fast. 32,200
7/20/2016 – Sat down to write, and was interrupted by life. Fortunately, I quite like being alive, so I took advantage. 32,700, and I’m trying to be okay with that.
7/21/2016 – Spent some time erasing CAPITALIZED NOTES I left for myself. Stopped at 35,200. I could write more, but kids are only out of school for so long, so we went and played.
7/22/2016 – 36,800. I hate to do this with so few words, but I’m calling a very rough first draft. Spent time making notes on the things that need to be added/threaded through. Hope I get my word count up to a point that makes this a novel… Going to set novel aside while I finish copyedits, and maybe go over another older MS on my computer. Hoping that’ll give me a clear head when I step back into this because I know there’s a TON to add.
TOOK A NICE LONG BREAK FROM THE MS
9/22/2016 – Did a skim-read, and started IN DEPTH character sketches, starting with the “bad guy” – the bad guy has to be the hero of their world, so that was a fun thing to work on. Re-worked first two chapters.
9/23/2016 – rewrote the blurb and logline to suit the changes. Worked through 6 more chapters. Deleted and wrote. 38K
Got notes on an MS from agent – time now divided between the two projects.
9/26/2016 – Added 1k. Worked through two more chapters.
9/29/2016 – To page 100. 41K
10/3/2016 – 43,500 – Did a bit of rearranging… Deleted a thousand, added more than that.
10/4/2016 – 46,277 – more rearranging. Deleted 2K *weeps*, but still ended up ahead.
10/5/2016 – spend a chunk of the day chasing after a STUPID lost dog. Deleted a lot of notes to myself that were part of the MS word count but still ended the day at 47,500
10/6 /2016- Wrote a LITTLE but spent the day outlining the novel so I could figure out if my pacing and reveals were where they should be. Have a bit of rearranging to do in the final 1/3. 48,500
10/15/2016 – 62,000. Ready to set aside.
TWO MONTH BREAK
12/20-12/23/2016 – Read over entire novel. Feel it’s ready for a reader. Finally.
12/26 – 30/2016 – Read out loud to hubs.
SET ASIDE TO CONSIDER PLACES TO ADD WORD COUNT TO HEIGHTEN TENSION. ALLOW LIFE TO BE CONSUMED WITH FINAL STEPS TO OPENING REGISTRATION FOR THE STORYMAKERS CONFERENCE.
February – Sent to a reader. Made a few fixes. Sent to agent, who suggested I work on something else. I deflate.
Summer and fall: Move from Alaska to Colorado just after having major surgery. Play with other stories, but don’t touch this one.
Decide to revisit the book after binge-watching a lot of horror. Tweak small things, realize that the main “bad guy” needs to disappear, leaving no “bad guy.” < – You’ll just have to trust me on this. Are you laughing b/c of all the word I did on “bad guy” above? Yeah. That was fun.
Have another epiphany while out hiking. Re-write blurb.
Pitch new blurb to an editor I would really like to work with. He loves the pitch. Realize that I have to re-write again to follow the pitch I presented. DAMMMMMIT. (Thank you Storymakers!)
Send new book to one reader, revise, and then send to another. Do two rounds of revisions based on notes from the second reader, and things I discussed as possibilities with the first reader.
Take Lisa Mangum’s class on ENDINGS THAT DON’T SUCK (thank you UVU!) and come up with a new small thread, and a way to bring the ending back around in a better way than I had before, despite the body count. < – yes, you heard that right
Get a pass from the editor who loved the pitch. He had only ONE note, loved the book, not right for their line right now. Jo wants to think before book goes out.
Talk out one point that I keep coming back to, and being unsure on, with Kaylee Baldwin at ANWA (Thank you ANWA!). Decide that one thing needs to be changed. I change that thing. Read over the whole book two more times. Layer in a bit more of one of the characters. Know with my entire being that this book will never feel done. But no books ever really do.