A guide to writing the first draft of a novel in just 30 days. This part will focus on keeping going and catching up and why it’s not OK to quit.
So you have embarked on the epic journey that is the 30 day novel and everything is going just peachy. You’ve kept up a good pace for a whole week and you feel like a real writer but now you’re starting to get tired and your characters aren’t behaving and your plot no longer interests you and you’re thinking that maybe you should take a break. DON’T.
Or perhaps things are not going so well. You’ve changed plot twice, you hate your characters, you can’t stop editing and the more you try to write the less you feel like a writer. You think it’s time to throw in the towel. DON’T.
It’s time for a little tough love.
That’s what we do. If you give in then you aren’t a writer. If you keep trying for the 30 days but don’t finish the novel or write less than 50,000 words then you won’t have won but you won’t have failed. You’ll still be a writer you’ll just be a slow one.
So write through it. Just keep writing and eventually a plot will reveal itself. Keep writing and keep open to new characters and to existing characters changing. Stop worrying about quality. Stop worrying about continuity. Just keep going. Before your story can be good it has to be written.
Experienced 30 day novelists will often talk about the week 2 wall. Having overcome your initial intertia in order to write you find yourself sailing along untill sometime during week 2 when everything suddenly gets much harder. The main trick for getting through the wall is not to beat yourself up about falling behind. Nearly everyone does at this point. You are wading ass deep through major plot decisions and you’re only just starting to find out what you don’t like about your characters. Don’t worry about it bacause you have plenty of time to catch up.
But you can only catch up if you keep going. It is alright to take a bit of a break at this point but not too much. Take the evening off and watch some television or go out and see a film but don’t avoid writing completely. Put down a few hundred words before you go to bed. That way you won’t fall so far behind and you’ll still have the novel alive in your head.
At this point your main problem may be one of fatigue. It feels like you are spending your whole life sitting in front of a computer screen and you are desperate to be somewhere, anywhere else. The answer is a kitchen timer. Instead of sitting there till you’ve done your 2000 words set the timer for 15 minuites and see how many words you can add.
These word sprints can be 5, 10, 15 minutes or however long you feel like. You can compete against yourself or against others. You can do as many as you like as long as you have a break between. You can give yourself rewards for each one. Mix up the lengths and see what your optimum sprint is.