The last few days I’ve had a lingering stress growing in my head, which has taken the edge off the Christmas high a bit. Last night I was ill in the middle of the night, which sucked a lot. But waking up today, I think it might have done the trick. I managed to get a full night which is good, and I don’t feel ill now, which is fantastic. Given all this, my plan for the next few days is simple: relax, and do as little as possible.
That sounds on the face of it like a silly thing to say. I’m on a Christmas holiday, what else would I be doing? While yes in theory that is true, having this much time off does tempt me even as I write this to try for a big wordcount day. That is what I’m worried about, and what I need to tell myself not to do. I have to let myself recover from a busy year and intense run of projects. Miscalculations in September almost threw my whole publishing schedule out of whack, and if I’m going to transition into writing WHT up after New Years, I need to keep my current momentum up.
The good news is it looks as if I will hit my deadline. I moved TSS’s deadline from December 13th to December 31st, swapping the digits round to account for the disastrous month of October, and there is a strong chance I have a finished draft of TSS by that time. If I do, that clean break is invaluable and gives me a clear three months and thirteen days to get through WHT. If I keep my current pace up, I will finish that in good time, unless WHT ends up nearer 110,000 words in length. I want to avoid that.
I suppose it’s worth talking about why I aim for shorter novels rather than the 190K behemoths some fantasy literature throws into the world. I do like those stories too, and longer books can give richer experiences. But they can also drag, pretty hard. If you drop a note in a 75-95K story, the beats will right the ship in a chapter at most. In a story twice that length, it isn’t two chapters, but usually nearer to five. Why is that? Because longer novels by their nature rabbit hole. They go down a lot of routes a tight story doesn’t. Sometimes it’s the best part of the book. Sometimes it’s where the reader loses interest and moves on.
Long story short – see what I did there – I don’t feel I have the talent to do the latter with consistency, so right now a tight story is my friend. I can use that to demonstrate I am capable of writing well structured and gripping plots. When I get better, my work I guess will get longer. I’d be lying if I didn’t also note 90K works well for my “three/four month sprints”. While this is my unpaid second job, it’s vital I use my time in a smart way. If I go too long, I will lose not only potential readers based on the above, but also time for more projects. And this is the year I want to write a lot more projects.
I’m going to chill for a bit, and if I can do 1K before I have to go out at 4 I will. But goal number one is keep my head on straight, and stick to the plan.