At the beginning of January, I set myself a challenge. It was one I’d been building up to for a couple of months – researching, outlining characters, padding out the plot – and just like last time there were lots of people ready to warn me that I might be setting the bar too high.
My plan was to write my second novel before Easter. I’d set out to write my first around the same time last year: I got started a little later, as January was spent just coming to terms with being a mum, but I’d actually been writing Lili Badger in my head for ages. And being aimed at the young adult market, my initial word count goal was only sixty thousand.
This time round I was mother to an almost-toddler rather than a newborn and I was aiming for ninety thousand words in my first draft. I wasn’t sure quite how long Arthur was going to keep up his very convenient twice daily feeding and napping in the sling routine. Oh, and on top of all that I’d also decided to start a blog.
Still, once I’d ironed out a few issues with motivation, characters and research, I actually really enjoyed throwing myself into the world of a new novel. As the story progressed, scenes I’d loosely mapped out almost seemed to write themselves, and I was getting a real buzz from watching the progress bar moving in the right direction in the brilliant Scrivener app. There were days when I didn’t write as much as I hoped, and even some when I didn’t manage to get in front of the computer at all, but the deadline was still far enough away that it didn’t make a discernible difference to my overall word count – I really didn’t need to worry about it too much.
And then suddenly we were in March. Arthur was ill – again – and the sleepless nights and constant breastfeeding were really beginning to take their toll. On top of that we had a trip to London planned to promote my first novel which ended up taking out almost a whole week of writing time. It was with trepidation that I looked at Scrivener’s project targets on the Monday after we got back from London: and, as I feared, my daily word count goal had gone way over the fifteen hundred words that I knew I could manage.
But actually it’s been ok. Well, better than ok to be honest. Things in the story have reached a climax, so sitting down to write has got even more exciting. Several times over the last couple of weeks I’ve had to drag myself away after crossing the two thousand words mark because Arthur’s patience has worn thin. He’s generally been pretty fantastic though – still napping well, and enjoying playing independently at my feet (and maybe trashing my study just a little) – so that not only have I been able to get back on track with the novel but I’ve even kept the blog up too.
The first draft isn’t finished yet – still 16,682 words to write, as those of you on Twitter might have noticed from my daily Scrivener updates – and of course the first draft is only the beginning of the journey towards the completed novel. But to have less than 20,000 words left, with 12 writing days to go until my self-imposed deadline, feels pretty damned amazing.