As it turned out, I didn't finish novel #2's rough draft last night. Let me tell you what I did accomplish in the last two months and then I'll get into lessons learned, risks and mitigations. I wrote 29 chapters, out of 35 I'm predicting, maybe 36. I wrote 193 pages in MS Word. I wrote 110,688 words.
I'm not done yet, I expect I can finish the rest of the first draft in the next week or so. But I will be relaxing a bit, spending some time with the wife, watching movies, reading, gaming; all the stuff I'd put on the shelf the last few weeks.
So, why didn't I make my goal? My wife would tell you I set a timetable that was too aggressive. I'm not sure. Writing part time, I nearly finished at ~36 chapter novel in two months. Or...maybe a little less than that. Now that I'm checking my notes, I actually started writing Novel #2 for real around May 4th. So I didn't quite give myself two full months. And those days may have made the difference.
A lot of little things make the difference between hitting a deadline and missing it, I've learned. First of all, never check email while writing. In fact, it's best not to use the internet at all while writing. (Exceptions for google and wikipedia for quick checks on grammar and the like) I became a lot more productive when the only website I had up was www.google.com. Second, avoid video games. Seems obvious, doesn't it. Well, I bought a copy of Master of Orion from www.goodoldgames.com and that wonderful game ate up hours and hours of productivity while I sat in the Thorne of Writing (tm). Finally, I learned to take deadlines seriously, earlier. I spent a lot of my time in early June playing games and not managing my time well. If I'd cut that off just a week earlier, I would have met my goal.
Obviously I'm disappointed in myself for missing my self-imposed deadline but some things did go well. So let me share some positive things that worked well. First, the more I wrote, the better I got at it. I know, crazy-sounding but hear me out. At the start it would take me three hours to do a chapter of about 5 MS Word pages. By last night, I was doing a chapter + in an hour and a half. Practice makes perfect. Second, a designated writing location and writing time worked. I had a comfortable Throne of Writing (tm) in a fairly quiet part of the house. Next, outlines help SO much. My first novel, Smooth Running, just sort of happened and then I had to go back and prune, trying to find the plot in all the adventure. This time, I started with the skeleton and built from there. I used the snowflake method to write this novel (see http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/art/snowflake.php ) and it worked For Me. (all the cavets apply here, every writer needs to find what works for them). Now I didn't follow the outline precisely. Some new chapters crept in and some chapters didn't quite go the way I'd planned, but that's ok. I'm a discovery writer, I know that now. The journey is at least half the fun. God above, I love writing fiction. I do. Finally, having a concrete goal to work towards was useful and important. I started this blog partially as a way of holding myself accountable.
In any case, I'll keep with the blogging and the writing. I'll be updating you on what's happening next as it happens. For now, I'll take a few days off, reacquaint myself with the wife (meaning I'll only write for two hours a day :) I promise. ) and then write a few short stories. That should be interesting, I havent' written any of them in a long, long time. Like fifteen years of long. I'll let Jael and Jacob rest as well, then go back and begin my first revision.
Thanks for reading.