Writing My Novel: A Well Deserved and Much Needed Break

flying books May 2010 was the first time I ever actively pursued my dream of being a novelist.  I always said I wanted to be a novelist, and I even started some novels over the years.  But I never actually put forth the effort it took to actually make that dream a reality.  I would write 500 words a week or something ludicrously low like that, eventually working myself into having 8-10k words, pat myself on the back for having started, and never actually move past that phase of writing.

With May, I set myself a goal.  2k words a day (Mon-Friday) or 10k a week in case I missed a day during the week, so I could go back over the weekend and make sure I stay on schedule.  And now, with my wife and me leaving for Florida (and Slayage and Disney World) tonight, I am taking a well-deserved break from pursuing my dream.

My novel draft isn’t finished.   But I can now walk away for the better part of two weeks knowing that when I come back, I’ll be refreshed and ready to dive back in to tackle the last five to seven days that are left.

Well Deserved

Vain or not, I’ll admit to being proud of myself.  I finally stepped up and put my money where my mouth is.  And even though I’m not done, I’m close enough to the end to consider the project a success.  I am very close (within 2-5k words) of the end of the main narrative.  After that, I have about 5-10k of additional bridging I need to have in the middle of the book, and I’m done with the first draft.

And it feels good.

I like that I am getting to the end I want before Slayage because I will be able to come back refreshed and churn out some really good fiction to bridge the two parts of the story that really need it.

Much Needed

I love my novel.  It is the kind of novel I would read for fun.  And it’s fun to write.  To be able to see these characters come to life, have my Aha! Moments, and create a story out of nothing.  I am proud of myself for writing so diligently on it this month, staying on schedule, keeping the narrative going, and not falling into the “but I don’t wanna” doldrums, but I have to tell you: I’m tired.

thick-book2 Between the blogathon, my Slayage presentation, and the novel, I’ve been writing a ton (close to 100k words in May, I think).  I love it.  I love it.  I love it.

But I need a break.

And there is no greater break than spending a week at Disney World.  At a Star Wars Weekend! Huzzah!  I can’t wait to see friends from grad school and hang out on the beach with them and my wife.  I can’t wait to sing along to Buffy’s “Once More With Feeling” in a room full of professors and academics.  I can’t wait to see a Stormtrooper legion walking through Disney Hollywood Studios.  And I look forward to not having to get up every day and make sure that I write the prescribed number of words on my novel.

Even though I’m on summer vacation from teaching, I still work every day.  And the next ten days are going to be my actual vacation from any kind of work (even the dream fulfilling kind).  I’ve worked hard this month to be technically “off work”.  For anyone who doesn’t think that writing is work, sit down and try to churn out a novel in a month and a half.  Or heck, just sit down and churn out a novel.  Don’t even put a time limit on it.  Do it as you can and feel inspired. You’ll change your tune, I promise.

Ten Whole Days?

In a way, I feel bad.  I have gotten so used to this schedule for the past month, I fear breaking it.  I mean, I even wake up on the weekends and immediately feel as though I should plop down at my desk and connect to Office Live to begin working on my manuscript.  So with a ten day trip starting today where I will most certainly not working on my novel at all, I wonder how far out of the groove I am going to get.  Luckily, I am close enough to the end of the story that I don’t feel I’ll lose steam in terms of storytelling.

I do fear, however, losing steam in terms of discipline.  The 14th of June is going to be very much like April 27th (the day I started writing full-force); I will have to just sit down and write despite the urge to take a day or two off to recover from vacation.  And that’s okay.  I’ve done it once, and I’ll do it again.

What I think is going to be great, though, is how once this novel is finished, all the others will come so much easier.  I will have learned a great many lessons, and I will be able to apply them on subsequent projects.  taking_a_breakAnd this 10-day hiatus is no different.  Even though I’m a creature of habit, things happen.  Routines break.  And I may not always have a few months off from teaching in which I can throw together a draft of a novel.  It very well might be late nights and early mornings with whole days or weeks in between sessions.  So this well deserved and much needed break is just another object lesson on my road to becoming a working writer.

A very welcome object lesson filled with sunshine, beaches, and geekery.

Even though I’m taking some time off, never fear!  I have some blog buddies guest posting here to keep your RSS feeder filled with all sorts of high quality, pop culturey goodness.  If you’re interested in being included, email me using my contact form, and I’ll get it scheduled when we get back to the hotel room.

So I guess I’ll see you all in ten days.  Don’t have too much fun without me.

By B.J. Keeton

B.J. KEETON is a writer, teacher, and runner. When he isn't trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he is either writing science fiction, watching an obscene amount of genre television, or looking for new ways to integrate fitness into his geektastic lifestyle. He is also the author of BIRTHRIGHT and co-author of NIMBUS. Both books are available for Amazon Kindle.


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