Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Tuesday, 01 October 2002

This novel writing thing is beginning to run along more smoothly. That's no guarantee that it'll continue to go smoothly, but things are going much better now than they were the first four or five days I was trying to work on this novel.

My reaction is: I'm glad I'm not doing a novel dare.

I became very interested in Clarion two or three years before I went, and started following a large number of Clarion-related web journals. Several of those people participated in a "Clarion novel dare" at some point along the way. In a novel dare you try to write a novel in a month. You also document your progress, usually on a web page.

I was always a little jealous. I thought it sounded like great fun to put aside as much as possible of everything else I was supposed to do and write as fast as I could for a month. The usual target for a novel dare was a novel (that is, a whole story) that was at least 60,000 words. That was a substantial amount of writing, but plausible--I've had plenty of 2000 word days. Putting 30 of them in a row seemed unlikely, but not impossible, especially once I got rolling. It also seemed like a great way to turn an essentially solitary activity into something where you could feel like a member of a group.

I also saw all the obvious negatives: The elevation of quantity over quality, the 60,000 word length not being especially salable these days, the documented writing process more likely to hinder that salability than help it. But those things seemed like minor, theoretical objections. I would have been delighted to participate in a novel dare.

It would have been a bad idea. I suspect I'd have written 10 or 20 very bad pages in a futile effort to hit the 8-pages-a-day average that would be required for success, and then I'd have given up.

But, since I'm not doing a dare, I've been able to struggle with the first 8 pages of my novel, trying various things, until I have something that seems like a solid base for the next section. I haven't come close to the word-rate a novel dare would call for, but I've produced stuff that I think I can build from. (Although all I wrote today was about half of a scene. I thought I knew where it was going, but now I'm thinking of several alternatives. I need to do a bit of world building here.)

Jackie and I met for lunch and then went for a walk in the park. Then she picked me up after work and we went for another walk in a different park. Work went okay, so all in all it was a nice day.


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