Planning, Hard Work, and Serendipity

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So, what does it take to write a novel? You might think I'm talking about an outline, character sheets, backgrounds, a timeline of events, etc. That's not it, though. While those things can certainly be helpful, there's a piece that seems often overlooked when reading about the craft of writing.

Hard work

Yep, that's the answer, right there. Writing a novel is a ton of work, and none of it is easy. I've spent somewhere over a hundred days on it so far. Each day, I've spent an average of 4 hours of my free time at night doing it. So, four hundred hours so far? Add pre-work on top, which was about another month or so, and we're suddenly at 500 hours of work.

What else could you do in 500 hours?

  • There have been 193 episodes of Ancient Aliens. You could start at Season 1 and finish through the most current episodes at Season 17. You'll still have 307 hours left.
  • You can officially become a beginner at your choice of musical instrument. The time to get comfortable with the basics varies by instrument, but you'd be well on your way with that much time.
  • Get shredded by spending 500 hours working out.
  • Play through Dragon Age: Inquisition about six times, hitting every side quest. Skyrim? 5 times. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? 11 times. I'd recommend at least two complete playthroughs of each game in the Longest Journey series, though. It's worth it. If you do that, you'll still have 440 hours to use.

Those are just a few examples off the top of my head. But the point is, writing an entire novel is a ton of hard work. When I finish the first version, I will have spent over 1,000 hours on it throughout about six months. I'm sure there will be rewrites and edits after that, so who knows where it will end up?

It's not for the faint of heart. But then again, as I've mentioned in previous blog entries—I just set a reminder to work on it for the same time every night, and I do it.

You make time for what's important to you. For me, it's writing. For you, maybe it's the same, perhaps it's different. That's okay. The critical thing here is to be aware of where your time goes. Are you happy with how you've allocated it? If not, switch it up.


The more I write, the more I stumble across these serendipitous moments in my story. They are happening all the time now. A scene in a chapter that I wrote months ago magically connects to my current scene, usually in unexpected and beneficial ways. I did go into this with a somewhat detailed plan of attack, but the entire process is a creative journey that keeps me on my toes. It's fun.

I look forward to more of these kinds of moments.

What's new since last week?

  • I broke the 85,000 words mark. That also includes several rewrites on earlier chapters.
  • I've noticed that the quality of what I write has drastically improved since I decided just to sit down and write every single day. 100+ days later, there is a dramatic improvement. It's hard to put my finger on precisely what it is, why it's so much better, but it's there.
  • I'm still editing backward. I have maybe around 50K words to back-edit. Just like writing forward, I'm plugging away at back-editing a little every day. It's worth it.
  • I named a few other minor characters that pop up. What's in a name? Answer: a lot.
  • I wrote a scene in a Waffle House in rural Kentucky. I needed a few questions that were very specific to Waffle Houses in rural Kentucky. I used to live in Tennessee, but I now live over a thousand miles away. I couldn't just drive over to one and ask. So, I tried Google, and it was clueless. I picked up the phone and called one at 2 AM. Sometimes, Google just doesn't know the answer...but Peggy does. Thanks, Peggy.