I am writing to you on day 10 of my experimental novel writing challenge to tell you that these challenges totally work.
On day one I sucked at writing. I stared for an hour trying to come up with the first line. I hovered one hand over the backspace key and pressed it furiously. For a minute I thought it would stop working. I ended the day with 964 words and probably over 1000 that left the screen after I typed them.
On day two, I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned thinking of my story. I got excited. Too excited. I got out of bed and wrote until I hit 3,492.
On day three, I had a huge chunk of time in the morning broken up by an extra long lunch followed by more writing time. I couldn’t stop. My vision got blurry and I had to pause. I ended with 13,564.
On day four, I hit the dreaded 20,000 mark. You aren’t quite halfway but you’ve got some time to kill in the story before you pick back up on some action. Maybe something will come to me in my sleep.
On day five I realized day four lied to me. Nothing came to me in my sleep. I wrote a filler scene and I hated it. My inner editor wanted to stab my brain for killing the passion of the story. I wrote a scene in anger. It went against every piece of my soul. I let my inner editor win and I deleted the scene entirely. I’ll deal with it tomorrow. 22,167.
On day six, I fixed the damn scene but was so distraught over the energy I expended, I couldn’t continue. 23,220.
On day seven, I was forced to write another filler scene. I just wanted to make the halfway mark. Maybe that would give me some hope again. I’d be closer to the action and fun. I crossed the line at 25,267.
On day eight I learned never to trust a previous day’s thought. I had a full schedule at work and though I was right on the edge of a really good scene, I knew once I started I would never be able to sleep. But sleep is good. I needed sleep. I made it to 26,625.
On day nine, a day of zero commitments and pressure, I let it rip. My fingers never stopped except to refill my caffeine and use the restroom. I don’t remember if I ate. I was too busy eating up the emotions that were spinning in my story. It was exhilarating. I’ve had a runner’s high before, I’ve reached perfect flow in the sport of softball where every part of the game was fluid and majestic and my body responded in perfect sync. None of those compared to the feeling of writing these scenes. Not even close. I demolished my previous 10K word day by 5K words. I ended at 41,803.
On day ten at 12:56pm, I wrote word number 50,000. That word was “she”. Without any editing and revision that still has to be done, the book sits at 50,076 words. I wrote my first novel. I have words of a story that I told. It is imperfect and beautiful, raw and amazing. It brings me joy that it is complete. It brings me sadness that it is over.
Over these ten days, I have learned so much about myself and my creative process. I’ve had a lot of ups and a lot of downs. I’ve learned how to break through obstacles and demolish goals. I left my comfort zone in the dust. I didn’t just live on the edge of it, I reached farther than I ever have before. I didn’t know how I was going to react to this challenge and I surprised myself. It was stressful and hard and awesome.
I would do it again in a heartbeat. I will do it again in November. Maybe I’ll stretch it out for 30 days this time. But if it’s anything like this book, I’ll be way too excited to let an extended deadline slow my pace.
Happy writing, folks.