First Draft Done Mostly as Planned

It wasn’t as much fun as going all out, but it probably is a better way of working in the long-term.

I finished the first draft of my novel, Overbooked, on November 22, several hours before we left to pick up our first child for Thanksgiving break, which was my overall goal. It took 102,795 words. Which meant I averaged just under 5,000 words a day. I had tried to establish 3,333 as my goal, but that didn’t last long. Not when I wanted to finish early, and it was clear the book would be well over 80,000 words after just a few days of writing. But if I’d started with a goal of 5,000 words a day, the chances are high I’d have averaged more than that. It’s just the way I am.

Even with the plan of not overdoing, it was very difficult not to strive for 10K on the first and second days. It was very hard not to write another 5K on the day someone passed me on the word chart, and stayed just a few thousand ahead of me. I had a great time meeting the person who did that and calling him my arch-nemesis. I’m delighted there’s another person who is writing 10K a day, who started late, who might just pass him. Part of what I love about NaNoWriMo is that it allows me to be very competitive.

Doing yoga and painting to limit the amount of writing resulted in one bedroom painted, and a very sore left shoulder–so I quit doing that after the first week.

But I took frequent breaks. I walked a lot, biked on the exercise bike without trying to write at the same time, and I waited to write a scene instead of struggling through it when I was tired. I often thought the scene was much better for my having waited.

I posted the first chapter on and it will be critiqued in early December. I’ve gone over the first chapter once, and plan to do a second and third pass before it comes up, but it’s ready for feedback. I’m debating letting the rest of the novel sit a month or two, or doing a quick, clean-up pass. Haven’t decided yet.

The biggest change from previous years is that once I finished the first book, I didn’t move on to another project, or add scenes just to keep writing thousands of words a day. It feels strange to be done before the end of November, but that is also part of my plan not to overdo this year.

I even worked on my back-of-the-book blurb.

Overbooked: When her flight home from Amsterdam is overbooked, Candice stays behind. Her business-obsessed husband and independent teenage daughter point out that Candice doesn’t have anything better to do. An extra day in Amsterdam turns into two when her family doesn’t even bother to update her on their difficulty in returning home. The attention of an attractive French man makes her consider going to Italy with him. She’s always wanted to connect with the father who walked thirty years ago. Should she take this opportunity, or return home to a huge house that’s as empty as her life?

About Katherine Lato

Writer, thinker, observer and participant in life.
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