Word count: 57,857
LBR census: Love. And awkward discussions of the various forms it takes.
Authorial sadism: Not one but two characters wrestling with some unfamiliar (not to say uncomfortable) feelings.
So I’m trying something a little different with this book. Normally — by which I mean, for nine books now, discounting only my first finished novel — I set myself a daily word-count goal, and use that to measure my progress. Usually the goal is a thousand words a day, and since that’s a minimum, not an average, I build up a little overage as I go, which helps make up for the days I miss, and gives me a margin of safety re: my deadline. (Since this became a professional thing, I use that time for revision, before sending it off to my editor.)
This time around, applying that schedule produces slightly hairy results. For one thing, this book is supposed to be longer, more like Ashes than Midnight. Also, I lost four straight weeks to travel: no forward progress during that whole time. So the five months I gave myself to write a 140K book wasn’t looking like enough, not unless I made assumptions about my overage that I didn’t really want to trust — especially not when even that left no time for revision.
I could have just set a higher goal: say, 1500/day. Or whatever. But I decided to hybridize.
This book is divided into seven parts. I did Part One before leaving town, Part Two by the end of June. So rather than pacing by word-count, I recently decided to do it by narrative chunks, and moreover to do so in a fashion that would leave me a solid couple of weeks for revision. In other words, Parts Three and Four in July, Five and Six in August, and Seven in September, with the book due at the beginning of October. The “hybrid” aspect comes in where I know that each part should be roughly 20K, of which 1K or so is going to be flashback (and therefore written outside my daily quota), so I worked backward to figure out how many words I should aim for in a given day, in order to (probably) finish the relevant part by its mini-deadline.
So far, it’s working out. Beating that quota, combined with a shorter section than anticipated, means I finished Part Three tonight, three days ahead of schedule. And here’s the other new thing: rather than just saying, “Sweet, I can get a head start on Part Four!” and diving in tomorrow, I’m going to take that evening off. I may, if I feel like it, backtrack to chisel off a few of my worse continuity errors in the existing text; or possibly do a flashback. Or not. But I get to take a day to regroup and think about Part Four — and still start two days early.
I don’t know if I can keep up this pace for the next two months. It’s definitely faster than my usual; not brutally so, but enough that it may start to tell in the long term. But I’m more comfortable with this math, for whatever reason, and that’s reason enough to give it a shot.