90 days of novel writing is now under my belt

So you know how I was writing the first draft of a novel in 90 days? You must do. Well, that 90 days is over now and I sort of wanted to share how it went, and how it’s going to go from now on. I’m going to write a whole other post about how much I loved the service I used to help me write it, KritikMe, but for now, I just wanted to talk about the actual writing and what I have taken from this experience.

When I first started, 90 days seemed way off into the future, and I wondered if I would even make it to the end and what would be different at the end of the 90 days. Would I be in a relationship? Would I have a different job? Would I be getting up every day to write in the same house? Well, the first two stayed the same but the last one came true, I woke up this morning on the last day of the course in my new flat and thought back to 90 days previously when I had no idea what would happen. Hindsight is one of my favourite things.

I’m such a commitment-phobe but Louise made it clear to me that this was an all or nothing thing, and so I went all in. I followed all her guidelines strictly (at least to start with) and I was so pumped to start with the actual writing. I knew I just had to get stuck in and the words would flow onto the page like they always see to do.

And so time passed, and it came in peaks and troughs. Some weeks I would be so pumped to write, writing well over an hour a day for days at a time, coming into work at 7 am to write before my shift and just generally powering through when it came to word count, discovering new plot twists and things about my characters all the time.

And then I got to a place with it where I wasn’t enjoying it at all. The deadline was fast approaching, and I was so serious about meeting it but I was getting nowhere. I was obsessed with quality over quantity when it came to word count and I was stressing every minute that I wasn’t writing. The plot, in my opinion, was embarrassing and childish and the characters were lacking the substance I had first envisioned them with. Then I had my final phone call with Louise and we made a breakthrough. I changed the gender of my main character. All the other characters stayed the same, bar one, and it breathed a whole new life into my work. Since then, it’s been less about just getting words on the page and more about developing my characters. Now the 90-day deadline has been and almost gone and I’m no longer stressed about it – if anything I feel like this is where the whole thing is really just beginning. The last 90 days has given me the kick up the ass I needed to get this thing started, but writing a novel, especially your first ever one, is definitely a marathon, not a sprint.

I’m so excited to continue with this work and improve on it, finally hitting that elusive word count but having learnt so much more on the way and being able to do it in my own time. I’m so excited to keep you updated on how it’s going with the second draft and to hopefully make something real out of this thing that I’ve invested time, sweat and tears into. (I’m usually quite sweaty anyway but y’know.)

I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned through this process so far is that you can never stop improving as a writer and your work is never really finished. I’ve learned that if you’re really not feeling it with your work, go with your heart and your instinct and change it up a bit like I did. I also learned how much reading other incredible novels can shape your work in ways you never knew possible. Even though it’s so, so far from YA Sci-Fi, reading Disgrace by Coetzee and reading the course material on it totally changed the way I get those words down on the page. It’s always been my dream to write a novel like it’s poetry (see Lorali by Laura Dockrill) and this has got me one step closer to achieving just that.

I’ll keep you updated on how it’s going but for now, I’m going back into my little novel world. See Y’all in a bit. x

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