Here’s a little bit about the work that went into my debut novel.
I started Mage Slave as a NaNoWriMo project all the way back in 2010. Nanowrimo—aka National Novel Writing Month—was huge for helping me learn to quiet my inner editor. It’s a month where writers get together and try to write 50,000 words in one month, on top of their lives and Thanksgiving and everything. And I learned SO MUCH! I practiced just not worrying about anything and letting the words come. Letting the story happen! It was liberating! If you want to write, even if you don’t think you’ll have the time, I highly recommend giving NaNo a try.
I didn’t “win,” though. (Winning is finishing the 50K in one month and uploading it to the NaNoWriMo site.) I did get to 33K at a rapid clip, but when I realized I was about 33% of the way through my novel, and that novels were 100K, no 50, and that it would take me until likely January to really finish, I lost momentum. Especially when Thanksgiving and tryptophan hit!
But I did continue to push on. And I’d gained some good habits during Nano! In particular, I chose 3 days a week to designate as writing days. I put reminders in my calendar that would go off when I was at work to tell me: tonight is a “Write Night!” I would commit to spending at least one hour writing, although that usually turned into two or three, really.
One big thing that helped me make progress more than ever before was that I didn’t beat myself up when Write Night didn’t happen. But I stayed committed to 3 nights a week, so if it didn’t happen, I would immediately mentally reschedule it for another night. This helped me keep up regular writing when the whole “write every day” thing didn’t work for me or my life.
I also kept a spreadsheet of my word count and entered each session how far I’d gotten. This was primarily so I could give myself rewards! I made small rewards like a new journal or a piece of cheesecake for when I hit certain milestones, with a big one at the end. (It was technically a piece of jewelry on Etsy… which I could never pick because analysis paralysis lol.)
I also had a small ritual and lit a candle every time that I sat down to write. I think that’s the only Yankee Candle I’ve ever burned all the way to the ground… 😉
I used index cards for an outline and spread them out on a big piece of white drawing paper to help me see the story as a whole. It also helped me feel a sense of progression. I wrote in Word, but did a lot of my editing in Scrivener. I also went to a great workshop that helped me learn about condensing the essence of a story down into one sentence on one index card… That helped me really see where I was going.
I ended up being delighted to finish my first draft that February.
Then began the long process of editing. And editing. And editing some more. There were large chunks that were completely boring and had to be excised or enlived. Overall, I’m not really sure why editing and revisions took so darn long, except that it was so mentally hard and not the fun part of writing. I also had some big life changes that meant a break for about two years, and another large side project that took center stage for a long time.
But writing would not quit me, so I kept going.
As you can see, it took almost 6 years to finally finish the painful editing and get Mage Slave into your hot little paws. And that doesn’t count all the failed books before hidden away in my hard drive that helped me learn how to write it!
That said, I am so honored to have been given the chance to tell you Miara and Aven’s tale. I truly hope you enjoyed it.