Weekly Musing: Step Aside Sucktember

Ahhh, September has come and gone. With its passing, thank goodness, it means it’s time for another update on how revisions are going for my WIP. For some reason only the fickle writing gods know, there appears to be this pattern where every other month my progress on this novel has sucked.

I started September with so much hope. After all I was on a roll after a horrendous start back in July. I was certain I would be able to keep my momentum going. Since my brain was fatigued, I went ahead and took a few days off as it allowed me to sorta shake off one character before I dived into the other main character. It helped to take a small vacation spending a few days with friends at a lake house that we rented for the weekend. I rarely take vacations and while I did bring my laptop, I only touched my laptop once or twice and that was to check emails and whatnot.

While I came back from vacation incredibly tired, I passed that off to the feeling you sometimes get of needing a vacation from vacation. Physically I wasn’t quite there but at least mentally I was ready to go.

That’s when September turned into Sucktember. Apparently I came back with some kind of horrible cold/flu/plague that made me miserable for a week and a half. Oh, there were a couple of days I did write a chapter or two, but I’ll be shocked if during the next round of revisions those chapters are coherent. They seemed liked they might have made sense at the time I typed them up. Other than those two days, I spent the rest of the time curled up in a ball shivering and sweating through all the PJs I own while my cat, and the husband, watched over me.

Naturally being sick and having gone on vacation put me way behind my own self-imposed schedule. It also killed any momentum I had from August. This made me quite grumpy and I put a lot of pressure on myself to get caught up. A sense of panic set in counting up how long it will take me to finish crept inside my addled brain. After all, my male character started off with about 21 chapters that needed to be revised. This has since gone up to 25 chapters I need to complete in order quasi-adequately tell his part of the novel.

My goal has been to average about a chapter a day. Obviously some ideas that were originally crammed into one chapter have been spread out which means I have to draft new material. Also, I have more than one mega chapter which need to be chopped into smaller, more easily to digest chapters.

In addition to forcing me to stick to a schedule, a-chapter-a-day gives me wiggle room since real life happens. For whatever reason, people want me to be around them so this allows me the freedom to spend time with friends and family. Also with it being football season (Go Wolfpack and Niners), my weekends wind up being taken up with chunks of time yelling at the TV.

This approached worked fairly well when I was working with my female lead. My male lead, though, requires a lot more research since he goes around with swords and represents more of the political and historical component of the story. It doesn’t help that research is often conflicting so decisions have to be made for the sake of the story and characters as to what to go with. So aiming for a chapter-a-day pace probably wasn’t realistic and I knew this going into September. It’s why I set the goal for me to be done by November 1st as I want to participate in NaNoWriMo and it took me about four months to do the rough draft.

Yet while I was just wishing for Sucktember to end, when it did, I realized I had made more progress than originally thought. I got 11 chapters done. Better than the 4 in July and there were no excuses for that pathetic output. Had I not done a thumbnail sketch of my male lead’s story, as well as briefly jotting down key things like what kind of weapons and armor he and his brother need, I think I wouldn’t have been able to get even those 11 chapters done.

I say a grateful goodbye to September and am optimistic about October. It’s the home stretch for the novel. Already a tentative structure of how to interweave each character’s chapters to make one complete story is bouncing around in my mind. October is also going to be better because I get to revise the multiple battle scenes I’ve written. I honestly enjoyed writing those scenes the most and can’t wait to improve upon them. Death to September! Long live October!

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