A Novel in 30 Days

Hello wonderful people! It’s been a busy month–I finished up my detailed outline (my last post breaks down how I go about outlining), and now, I’m currently drafting my third novel. The kicker: I plan to have this full draft completed in 30 days!

What does that mean, exactly? Is the novel just “done” after 30 days? Definitely not, but I will have a draft of the entire novel from beginning to end with all the major beats in place. I’m aiming for a 50,000 word draft, give or take– I’m not really focused too much on the final word count right now, because I’m a very concise writer and my early drafts are pretty short. For example, the first draft of my last book clocked at about 46,000 words, and the final draft was 90,000 words. My guess is that this first draft will be 50-60,00 words, mostly because I’ve built out more of the subplots this time around.

I once read that a first draft is simply a writer figuring out how to tell the story to themselves, and I really liked that. A lot of writers consider their first drafts dumpster fires, and I used to think of mine as the same, but now I just tell myself, “I’m finding a way to tell this story to only me right now.” It takes a lot of pressure off of trying to write something “good” at the first draft phase, when you know you’re going to make it good later. My goal right now isn’t to write something great, but to create a blueprint for something great.

That said, I can already see the difference from this first draft versus my second book’s first draft: I’m a stronger writer now than I was back then, and it really shows even at this early stage. The voice is coming across much more strongly, the character interactions feel more complete, the overall plot feels tighter and clearer. It’s an amazing feeling! Sometimes it’s hard to know if we’re progressing in our craft, and this is one of those times where I can feel it with every page.

While I’m aiming to have this draft complete in 30 days (daily tracker shown in the picture above), I’ve made sure to build in time for breaks. My social life is, well, next to nonexistent right now, but it’s still important to take time to breathe. From a physical standpoint, I also tend to get headaches if I write too much at once (I work full-time and that’s all on the computer, aaaand I work in the video games industry, so you KNOW I’m looking at screens constantly), so I need to give my head a break. 

So while I’m giving myself 30 days to write, I’m only actually writing for 25 days. I’ve created a buffer for things like my husband’s birthday, or if I get sick, or if I just need a mental health break, etc. I was feeling pretty under the weather earlier this week, so I took the evening off from writing and had zero guilt about it or worries that I was falling behind schedule. This was a lesson learned by previous writing schedules: I’d make unrealistic goals, then kick myself for not meeting them. Now I still set ambitious goals, but I’m kinder to myself, too.

In my next post, I’d love to share more tips for writers looking to create a full draft within 30 days, or perhaps for those looking to do NaNoWriMo this November (which is essentially what I’m doing on my own here). It can be pretty daunting to think about writing a novel in 30 days, but if you give yourself the right tools and you go in with a game plan, it’s far more manageable.

Wishing you a wonderful week with cozy weather,
Valerie

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