I had a vision in April of 1980, of a fantasy novel with an evil mage and a princess with the potential to best him but no training. It started like this:
Scattered moonlight skated, silvered, across the face of Ilyaen’s obsidian mirror.
A lot of sibilants, don’t you think? Well, the world has two moons, not one, and the princess is actually half-Lorefolk (think fae), and the evil mage seems like a pretty nice guy, if a bit dense. I’ve earned a Master’s degree in counseling, so the motivations of all my characters are less callow than they were back then.
Writing alone is difficult for me. So when I happened upon The Write Practice’s 100 Day Book (thewritepractice.com/writeabook), I think it was in Book Baby’s newsletter, I was overjoyed. Accountability, weekly deadlines, and a definite finish date? And it’s not going to break my budget? Count me in!
The program is simplicity itself: all I had to do was determine the amount I planned to write (100,000 words is standard for fantasy), divide it by 100 days, and then write an average of a thousand words a day.
At first, that sounded like a lot. Then I remembered that I wrote 100 haikus in a single night to prove a point to my high school creative writing teacher, that it was possible to write 100 poems for homework. I’ll never forget the look on Mr. Stitt’s face.
Actually, I only had to write 7000 words a week, since we had weekly deadlines. I missed the mark a couple of times due to illness but, in the end, wrote nearly 140,000 words. The habit of writing daily was the most difficult part, and it pushed me on until the point where suddenly my story seemed to flow like water from my fingers to my keyboard.
That’s not all, though. A staff member sends weekly pep talks, there are weekly suggestions on ways to freshen your writing if you’re blocked (which I mostly ignored – sorry, Joe), and weekly personal emails after each deadline. The program is supportive and fun … and there’s a surprise waiting if you finish on time. Plus, there’s a virtual after-party, which I look forward to attending. I was on the road all day during the wrap-up.
I also had the pleasure of reading work by wonderful writers, and look forward to that part of the process when editing Ilyaen’s Mirror in 100 days, starting February 24, 2020.
The experience of actually finishing a novel taught me a great deal about myself and writing in general. The 100 Day Book product actually includes 1/4 to 1/3 of the next book in the series, because I am a ‘panther’s and didn’t have an end point in mind. My first beta-reader and a developmental editor agree on a point much earlier in the story for an ending. I should have had at least a rough outline.
More important, though, is that I did not rough-edit as I wrote. That may cause problems when I get into the nuts & bolts of the next phase. At least I backed up in 4 different places. I’ll never lose a draft again! (Next post, I will tell you why it took from 1980 to 2019 to write the book. Lack of backups play a significant part in the story.)