Wednesday, February 8, 2012

And Now, It Gets Serious (or "I'm an Idiot")

For the past few weeks, I've been making what I consider to be "pretty good" progress on my novel.

I just passed the 60,000 word mark today. I seem to have more and more mental stamina as the days and weeks tick by. I'm able to sit down and just run with the story as it plays in my mind, basically transcribing the movie in my head into the computer.

I have a big announcement to make, but let me preface it with some background. I've always been a writer who thrives on deadlines. Even in law school, I wrote 30 pages of a research paper in the day-and-a-half before it was due, mostly because I was "slightly more than undisciplined" in my work habits 3L spring, but in large part because deep down, in the back of my mind, I knew I could do it. I've written about my procrastination habits in the past, and part of being a successful procrastinator is knowing the "zero point," where you absolutely have to buckle down and work your ass off to complete whatever the project is.

So, I'm going to work the usual schedule on my novel this week, and try to work up to 5,000 words a day by Friday. Hopefully that would put me at 70,000 words going into the weekend, when I plan on outlining the third part of my book.

Then, next week, I plan on writing the remaining 50,000 words to finish it up.

"But D.J., you're crazy! You just got really worked up over finishing 50,000 words in a month. What makes you think that you can finish 50,000 in a week!?"

I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone else with this; ultimately I want to create an enjoyable book for readers more than anything else, and I'm sure that my rough draft simply won't make sense. I've already altered a number of things in my head that I need to fix, but haven't gone back and edited it yet simply out of my desire to get the first draft utterly complete.

No, this is more to prove that I can do it to myself. I haven't given myself a good challenge in a while, and I think that this is a way to really do so in a 50/50, "can I do it or can't I?" sort of way.

And more than that; I need to know what my absolute upper limit is in terms of productivity. Not so that I can procrastinate more in the future (though it would certainly be nice for that, as well...), but so that I can plan out what projects that I can realistically take on in a given period of time, and how much raw product I can produce when absolutely pushed.

Will it be good, or even passable work? Will I be exhausted at the end, and need a few days to recover? Do I even have it in me? I have no idea.

But that's part of the challenge--I want to see whether or not I can do it, and test my limits.

Maybe I'll do it, or maybe I'll fall short. The important thing is that I'm going to push myself, and see exactly what that upper limit is right now.

Besides, without anything cooking for Valentine's Day, what better time to try?

Days (of work): 23
Words: 60,542
Pages: 208 2/3

D.J. Gelner covers the Rams beat for, and is an aspiring author.  Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) or facebook (here).  E-mail him at  You can also listen to his podcast (Bottle and Cans) here.

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