Writing My Novel: It Has Begun!

Microsoft Word DocumentToday is the first day of the rest of my life.  How about that?  Well, more accurately, and less clichéd,  today is the first day after finals, which means that today is the first day I get to sit down and treat writing my novel like it is work.

As I write this, my manuscript sits at 22,157 words.  My goal is 85-100k by the end of June.

Keeping My Eye on the Finish Line

When I got home from work yesterday, I took the calendar off our kitchen wall and hung it next to my desk.  I grabbed the orange Sharpie I usually label DVDs and CDs with and wrote “2k” on every day Monday-Friday between April 27 and June 30 (except for June 3-13 when we will be in Florida for Slayage). At the end of every week, I also have an approximated word count goal to help keep me on schedule (for instance, this week has 28k under Friday, April 30).

Each day when I reach my goal, I am going to take a blue sharpie and X those 2k words off my calendar and update it with my actual word count.  Doing so should give me a visual cue of where I need to be this summer if I want to reach my writing goals.

If I get ahead, great.  If not, then I have something to shoot for and keep me in line.

If there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I am a slave to lists, schedules, and routines.

And if I am still writing on this novel on June 30th, I will reach 100k words. Which is too long for a debut author, even if I am writing science fiction. According to Collen Lindsay at The Swivet, newbie authors trying to get an agent/editor should “err on the side of caution” when considering our manuscript’s word count.  I take that to mean that if I’m still going as I near June 30th, I need to find a stopping place and wrap the narrative up or start planning a sequel.

Wish Me Luck?

I would say so, but I don’t think luck has anything to do with it.  Instead, wish me motivation and stubbornness.  Because from my limited experience, those are the two main qualities an author needs to actually write a book.

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.


    1. My wife and I are attending “Slayage,” an academic conference on the works of Joss Whedon. I am presenting a paper on Wash’s death in Firefly and she is doing a presentation on Aspiring to Evil in Buffy/Dr. Horrible.

      My initial goal was 70k, but I actually bumped it up to around 80k so I would have a little breathing room because of the structure I want the novel to have. But I’m about 4k over that budget right now, so we’ll just have to see how it pans out and if I get to tell the story the way I have it put together in my head. If I start approaching 90-100k, though, I have every intention of stopping and breaking it into another book.

      1. I wouldn’t automatically break into another book if you hit 90-100K. I say write, write, write and then cut, cut, cut. I’ll help you with the cutting 😛

        1. You know I’m going to take you up on that, right?

          And it was never my intention to do a sudden break (Pirates of the Caribbean 2 proved to me how frustrating that truly is). I was just thinking of finding a stopping point and working the rest of the complete narrative into a second book if there’s need.

  1. The semester is over already? Winter break seems like yesterday.
    Good motivation (coffee) and much stubbornness (tying your leg to the desk), sir. I look forward to updates and maybe, one day, even a hint as to what the novel is about.

    1. Yeah, it does seem like it just started. This semester was really short at my school, too: only 12 weeks of instruction. They have a policy to hold commencement on the first Saturday in May no matter what, so that cut us a week shorter than usual this year.

      I’m keeping the topic pretty close to my chest right now. I’m one of those paranoid types like that. But as I get short stories finished over the summer, I hope to have one that works in the world of my novel that I can post here.

  2. I’ve got to stop reading these “I’m writing” posts. They just make me want to dust off my own novel and tangential novella writing plans… and I have entirely too much on my plate already.

    So… job well done, Beej? 🙂
    .-= Tesh´s last blog ..GW2 Manifesto =-.

    1. Then do it! I’m glad I can have that effect on someone, honestly! I have a lot on my plate, too, but meh. In my mind, being able to finally (potentially) being able to live my dream is worth putting in that effort and work around all the other stuff.

  3. I learned that level of planning won’t work for me, Gordon. I have a plan in my head and a “notes” document, but I can’t be that rigid with it. I have a post lined up this week going into more detail with it, but I learned early on that outlining the whole book and making character bios was the least productive thing I could do with mine.

    I look forward to reading yours! Get it done, already! 😉

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