First Milestone

November 22, 2005

In my previous Book post, I wrote about developing a work plan for my novel. The work plan detailed on which days I would write, for how long, and dates by which I would achieve certain goals. At the time I created the plan (late February 2005), I was working full-time for a local video game developer. The game project with which I was involved was in its final three months of production. Anyone who has worked in the video game industry will tell you that when a game goes final is not a good time to have any other plans for your life.

The work plan specified that I would work on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and one or both of Saturday and Sunday, depending on completion of household chores and errands. I gave myself Friday and Saturday nights off for socializing. Tuesday evenings I had a pre-existing class. Weeknights I was to work for at least one hour. Weekends at least one hour, preferably two or three.

The goals outlined by the plan were simple. Complete 50 pages by the end of July 2005, 100 pages by the end of October 2005. Have a first draft by the end of March 2006.

In March I got to it. It was a struggle at first: an hour at night doesn't leave much time to get into the 'flow'. I seemed to average 500 to 700 words per session, over 1000 for longer sessions. Sometimes I'd do as poorly as 200 words. I kept a log. It was daunting, and often felt like I was chipping away at a huge block of stone whose final shape I couldn't quite make out.

The book seemed to move in fits and starts. Overtime would keep me at work late on many evenings, and some weekends as well, but the project was better than others in that I still had some time for my personal life. I made time for it. Progress felt excruciatingly slow, but bit by bit, it started to add up. I hit 100 pages on June 19, 2005. Sure, they're fairly short pages: approximately 200 words per page. The word count was about 20,000 at the time.

Still, I was ecstatic! I'd doubled my goal over a month early. The steady work had paid off. I revised my November goal to 200 pages.

Next time: somebody gets overconfident and la-zy

Books read on writing or creativity during the period covered by this post:

What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers, by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter (I didn't read the whole book)

The War of Art, by Stephen Pressman

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