June 2023 in writing

In June, I finished writing the first draft of the 2nd POV character’s arc, and started on the 3rd and final POV character.

I’ve written 77 of 97 outlined scenes; 41 1/2 of 48 outlined chapters. I averaged a little over a scene per day. At my current pace I will finish up the first draft by ~July 20.

2nd POV lessons

The story was a little too disjointed in the second POV. I think I need to go back with the lesson learned from Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s “replace ‘and then’s with ‘but’s and ’therefore’s” to make sure the story flows.

The final battle felt like it hadn’t been properly set up. I will refocus the story to lead up to it. I also think some small side plots may help. Besides making problems more challenging for the 2nd POV character, side plots may also help the reader get to know and care about the side characters. It’s the danger to these side characters that helps ramp up the tension and need in the final battle.

I’m wondering if I would have realized these problems if I were more experienced. I’m still learning what needs to be there for the story to work. I’m not sure if this is a first book thing, or if all of my first drafts will be like this. It does sound like it’s not uncommon.

I’m still learning who the characters are. What their motivations are. I’m adjusting both the plot and the characters to match each other and fit the critical beats I want to hit.

Daily schedule thoughts

I loved the 5am writing slot. I woke energized despite any lack of sleep, witnessed the beautiful pre-dawn light, and started writing. The house was quiet. The city was quiet. My mind was quiet except for the story, which blossomed and grew and flourished without distraction.

(I even used this slot during our week in Santa Fe. I wrote outside and watched the sun rise over the mountains. I only locked myself out of the rental house twice during our stay. The first time I waited til someone else woke to let me back in, and kept writing. Not my chosen route to encourage myself to keep writing, but it worked.)

One downside of my 5am schedule was the feeling of accomplishment I had at the end of it. Sometime in the morning I’d finish my writing for the day and feel like I was Done. I would relax afterwards, then find myself crashing in the early afternoon from lack of sleep. My errand and non-writing todo lists grew and made me feel anxious.

Plus, I had a lot of non-writing distractions in June. This will continue into July. Archer has had some bad news, so we’ll be prioritizing his quality of life. Mercy is costuming again, so I especially want to avoid dropping the ball on my side of the chores. And Finn asked me to help with some production on a song, so I’ll be getting back into music for a bit.

These days I get up around 7 or 8, walk the dogs, work out, handle whatever errands and other todo list items I want to get done. Afternoon writing is more of a slog and less of a joy than morning writing so far, but I’m able to get it done along with my other priorities. Evenings with the wife and dogs. An hour or two of Diablo after they fall asleep.

I’ll look for a way to make the morning writing work for me, but this is working for now.

Every day?

Since I started my first draft in late April, I’ve written at least a scene every day, except two. Two days in June I was useless in every way: exhaustion, headaches, personal issues kept me from functioning at all, let alone leaving headspace to write. I managed a few paragraphs one of those days and a few sentences the other. I made sure not to dwell too long on missing my daily quota, and instead focused on getting back to it the next day.

There are conflicting opinions about whether writers should write every day. As I understand it, Victoria Schwab gives herself weekends off, and is very successful and productive doing so. I do wonder how my productivity would be affected if I try weekends off. Worry about my productivity dropping off has kept me from trying it so far.

Camp NaNoWriMo?

I’m going to keep writing a scene every day in July until I’m done with the first draft. For the rest of July I plan on tackling the problems in the first draft and starting the planning, outlining, and writing of the second draft.

I thought about joining Camp NaNoWriMo to track this, but I think there’s enough going on that I’ll skip this one.


June’s stats:

Manuscript markdown files: 97
Manuscript words: 79273
Total markdown files: 418
Total words: 222204

Based on these numbers, I have plenty of room for additional descriptions, expanded scenes, and maybe even some side plots for depth, while staying within the 120k word count limit recommended for first time, traditionally published Fantasy authors.