I set myself a target of writing 60,000 words in September. A week in I realized how ridiculously over-optimistic that was and took the estimate down to 30-40,000. At the time of writing I have written 30,524 and there’s still time to get another few thousand words in. Overall, good progress.
But then there’s the but.
Despite knowing better I expected to write in a linear fashion. That would mean that by now, I’d have 54,000 words taking us neatly from the beginning to just past the middle of the novel. Instead I have the first third kind of done, and a whole bunch of scenes arranged loosely in chronological order. I have clear ideas for the end, but am a little lost on the middle third.
I also have a long list of things I need to do, from research I need to carry out through decisions I need to make to notes on changes. Some of the notes are in the text, some are in a separate note-book I keep for lists and thinking out ‘loud’. My list of characters has grown, the family tree has fallen to pieces, and I keeping forgetting what we know, what has happened and what the point of it all is. The chapter plan, and its associated word counts, no longer has any resemblance to the text. I’m flailing and need to take a step back to see if I can fit things together before I make the next great push.
And that, I understand, is entirely normal. This is how novels are written. I knew it was hard work: I didn’t know it was so much like wandering about in the dark, bumping into walls and feeling like an idiot.
Ultimately, I’m progressing according to plan. Not according to my structured plan, but according to the overall plan, the one that says “write a novel”. I hold on that thought, tightly.