It occurs to me that I keep mentioning exceptions to my novel writing process, but it’s been a while since I’ve actually reviewed what that process is. So, both for the sake of my own clarity, and for whatever interest it might hold for all of you, here’s how I’m approaching the Sunspin project.
I measure my productivity in terms of daily output of word count. I know some folks object to that as a metric, because of the pressure they believe it creates on me, as well as on others observing. However, in my case, I find word count a useful tool for personal accountability. Writing isn’t in the word count, of course, it’s in the plot, characters, setting, voice, style — all the myriad components of story. But given that I trust my own writing mind, I know I can drive those components forward. Word count is my vehicle for that progress.
In that context, my goals for myself on the Sunspin project are 2,500 words per day, five day per week. In effect, if I manage at least 12,500 words per week, I have achieved my goals.
This has been complicated by the fact that in Sunspin, due to the complexity and overall size of the project, I have to keep stopping to revise both the manuscript in progress and the outline. This is rather contrary to my usual process wherein I strongly prefer not to pause for revision while drafting. My need to calibrate progress and maintain the balance of the complexity trumps my sense of wanting to power through the draft in the interests of maintaining control of the story voice. This book is for several reasons well outside my span of control, the first such major project for me in years.
As of last night, Calamity of So Long a Life, the first volume of the Sunspin trilogy, stands at 59,500 words. That’s the completion of section one of three in the book. I’m 1/9th of the way through the whole project in draft.
However, because of this issue of span of control and calibration, I’ll spend the next couple of days doing a close read and light line edit of this first section. That’s in lieu of my 2,500 words per day. Which will, honestly, make me a bit twitchy. That’s the downside of holding myself accountable via a word count metric. But I’ll still be working on the project.
By Wednesday or so, I’ll have this wrapped and be on to section two of Calamity of So Long a Life. At that point, I’ll be placing this first section out to beta readers, and thinking ahead again, 2,500 words at a time.