Nine months ago, I was finalizing my debut novel, An Uncertain Faith. It was a story that I had toyed with in my mind for several years. I was fortunate enough to have a sabbatical from the day job during which time I wrote until my fingers hurt. My youngest hadn’t started walking yet and was content to sit in a corner of the room playing with his toys.
I had dreamed of being an author and now I had a book to my name, but I wanted more. I didn’t want to be considered a one and done writer. I self published. I didn’t vanity publish. I was going to have to follow-up my first book with a second.
My next book idea hit me in a few months later. I eagerly fired up my computer and began plotting the outline and character notes. I had to record the dream while it was still fresh in my mind.
The problem is outlines don’t exactly fly off bookshelves. You have to actually add content. I knew how many words had gone into An Uncertain Faith. I was going to meet or exceed that quantity before I could say the work was complete. Unfortunately, if finding time to continue writing outside of the demands of the day job wasn’t difficult enough, I was also going to have to fit in time to promote the first book. Additionally I now had to keep up with two very mobile, and very active young boys.
I expect that no one would have faulted me if book two never made it past the outline stage, or if I continued to work on it as the mood hit until I was gray and the kids were out of school. My dream of being a multi-credited novelist would remain that. An unrealized dream.
I had to transform my dream into a goal.
I set myself a deadline. Combined with my word count total, I was able to determine how many words I needed to write per writing day. I will admit that the juices flowed better some days than others, but I kept writing anyway until I hit my daily quota, otherwise I feared writer’s block might set in.
My deadline for the first draft is June 1st, and I am pleased to say that while it is definitely still a rough draft and lacks a sticking title, my manuscript has a beginning, middle, and end.
Now I am ready for my next challenges. I need to polish this draft up, re-writing whole sections. Then I need find another batch of readers willing to see past the grammatical errors and run on sentences, but just as willing to tell me exactly where the story needs more work. I will have to remember that just because I spent the last six months living with these characters, others might not see them quite the way I do. This last step is never easy, but typing the first chapter wasn’t either.
It’s time to reset the clock.