A funny thing happened on the way to my book

April 21, 2008 at 9:15 am (Writing)

I had an odd thing happen to me on Saturday, something I don’t think has ever happened before. I wrote (more on that later–can’t resist a guilt-free backstory) and when I was finished, looked at my word count. It was at 1800. I started a scene in progress, so I was at 600 to begin with.

Allow me to show off my college education.

1800 words – 600 words = 1200 words.

1200 words / 250 words per page = a little under 5 pages

Big deal, right? Well, in a sense it was. I had been on a good pace for a little over a month, aiming for 24 pages a week (I can tell you how I got to that number, but then I’d have to do math again. I like you people too much to subject you to that.) The Saturday before (the 12th), I had written 5 pages and reached (insert minor fanfare here) Turning Point #1. That’s right–I’m 1/4 through my book.

And then I stopped.

I’ve had similar things happen twice before in the past 12 months–once last May when I had an idea and ran towards it with wild abandon and no brakes. I really burned myself out after about 3 weeks, due to my crazy self-imposed schedule, my difficulty switching from1st person back to 3rd, and a topic my inner self didn’t really want to deal with after all. That partial is now safely tucked away, fermenting. The second occurrence was last August after RWA Nationals. I had some fantastic response to my romantic-comedy-paranormal-lite (rom-com-para-lite for short) and while it was being read by those who requested it, I got my tuckus in gear and started on book #2 of the series. I reached the first turning point and got stuck. I realized my hero was dour, depressing and gosh, no fun to be around. Blech. The good news is I found a hero I like so much better and he’s fun and sweet and perfect for my heroine. But, I got some not-so-good news on my requests and went back to edit the first book in the series. Still absolutely love it (the series), but I’m wondering if my rom-com-para-lite needs to be put away to season until the pendulum swings back to first person stories that aren’t dark and all vampire-y.

And then while I was editing, a kernel of an idea that had been planted deep in the loam of my brain started to grow. Remember those speeded-up films you’d watch in 5th grade science class of a flower breaking free of the dirt and blossoming, all within a minute? That’s what this story did. Music talked to me, the characters talked to me, pictures talked to me–my head was blossoming.

So I started in in February.  I had to. Subtract 3 weeks in March when I had that nasty, awful cold/flu/sickness from the pits of bronchial hell, and then hit my writing stride. Until Saturday the 12th.

That was the day I hit my first turning point, the scene in the story that really talked to me, almost caused me to drive off the road when it first came to me. And I wrote it, topping off an act I love and can’t wait to go back and edit, clothing my paper doll in lush velvets and satins. The only problem was, I knew my next turning point and man, I have my Big Black Moment ready to go, but I think I froze for a little while on getting from TP #1 to TP #2.

I was able to come up with some wonderful details to really flush out my antagonist and had some good thoughts about a few scenes in between TP1 and TP2, but no writing. Now, some other things happened in that week, but I know it’s not that difficult to scratch out a page and keep the momentum going. So on Saturday afternoon, I got my tuckus in my chair and wrote. 1200 words worth, but you knew that already.

Ending this long path of backstory and circling back to my initial sentence, the odd thing that happened when I saw that lovely number was this:

I didn’t believe it. It didn’t feel like I had written almost 5 pages, it felt like 2 at the most. I even copied the section I had written and pasted it into another document so I could confirm the word count. Yup, 1200 words.

Sunday morning I was able to sit down and write 900 words and that felt like it. Don’t ask me what the difference was, but I still have the urge to go back and physically count those words from Saturday.

Or maybe I shouldn’t. That kind of thinking is how I found out there’s no Santa, but that’s another story.




  1. Robin said,

    Yay on the word count! *high five* And I’m betting those 5 pages are awesome! Because when the writing just flows and you can’t believe you’ve written as much as you have so effortlessly, that’s when some of the best stuff comes out. (I think. I’m by no means an expert. lol) And 900 the next day? Woo hoo! Keep up the great work! Now I’m gonna venture to produce 1500 wonderful words in the next three hours. That’s right, you heard me. You’ve got your fingers crossed for me, right? Thanks!

  2. Cynthia said,

    I love those days when the words just fly. Almost makes up for the days it’s all just metal grinding against metal and after hours of this you have a page and half plus a headache and probably a cramp because you started writing sitting in a barely comfortable position you are afraid to move out of fear the fragile grasp you have on words will vanish the second you do.

  3. Kyle said,

    Hey Pam!

    Thanks for the kind words over at my blog…!

    I have done that SO MANY TIMES, it’s really hard to believe. BUT, I have also done the opposite WAY more! Haha. You sit for what feels like hours, typing away, and, after you come up for fresh air (just long enough to wipe the sweat poring down your face), you realize it’s only about a page. Where the hell did the last three hours go? *sigh*

    By the way, what is it with romance writers and vampires?! LOL… I love it. Brings me back to my Buffy/Angel days.

  4. Pam said,

    Aw, Robin–you’re fabulous, really–you are. I’m awful with myself when I don’t meet my goals but for some reason this one was different. But I’m back on track now, right? And I’m sure you went way beyond your 1500 words, creating magic and romance and excitement and all kinds of good things.

    Cynthia–hi! I hate the endless sitting and staring too, and since I discovered whoever it is in our neighborhood who has WiFi, it’s even worse. One of these days I’m going to do a post on momentum and how important it is to writers. (That image of metal grinding against metal has me squirming uncomfortably in my chair, thank you very much. I keep thinking of chewing on tinfoil. *shudder*)

    Kyle–the kind words thank-you comes back ‘atcha! And I am so with you–the endless sweating and toiling and pounding of the keyboard for…345 words? Huh? Man, I hate those days! And for myself, it’s not necessarily vampires–I am a Joss Whedon junkie and Buffy is my most recent fix. However, there are some good vamp stories out there and most of them are by romance writers. We do like our bad boys. 🙂

  5. Ilana said,

    Glad to hear its rolling again. I remember the feeling from NaNo, but I’ve been so deeply into editing that its been a while.

  6. Caryn said,

    That’s wonderful, Pam! I’ve definitely had days like that. Sometimes the words flow so easily, and before I know it I have a thousand or more of the best words I’ve ever written, whereas some days I can struggle for hours, typing and deleting and typing again, and end up with a half page of blah. What you were saying about pushing yourself too hard is, I think, key. Writing takes so much energy, and I think we need some time for our store of creativity to refill after we’ve poured it all into our writing. (Which is the excuse I’m giving myself for reading blogs right now instead of working on my book.)

  7. Pam said,

    Ilana–I am in [i]awe[/i] that you did NaNo. I can do 1000 words a day and after a month I start to burn out if I’m not careful. 1667 for 30 days? Only if you want to turn me into a raving, Turrets-like creature with a messy house and hairy legs. (And that’s the pretty picture I’m painting!)

    Caryn–this is why I love talking to the writers–you all understand what it’s like. I love/hate talking to people when they say, “Oh, you’re a writer? I’m going to write a book someday.” Good luck, sweetness–call me when you hit 10,000 words! And amen to the creativity. (Hmm…maybe that’s why romance writers like vampires. Are we on to something, Kyle? 🙂 ) And now I’m going to surf a few blogs and then try for my 1000 words today. And then start my new Melissa Marr book. Because it’s that replenishing creativity, dontcha know. 😉

  8. Pam said,

    P.S. That [i]awe[/i] was supposed to denote italics. Obviously I’m much better at smiley faces than CSS or whatever it’s called. I’ll stick to my words instead.

    Ilana–I am in rocking awe that you did NaNo!!! 🙂 (Much better I think.)

  9. Caryn said,

    Pam, try them inside the greater than/less than signs instead. The brackets are for use on the forums, but the gt/lt signs are usually used for regular website html. 😉

    Oh, and I once mentioned to my neighbor that I was writing a book. He told me with absolutely no irony whatsoever, “Well, once you get it published, you should get it on the New York Times bestseller list,and then you’ll be set.” Yup. It’s as easy as that. I just smiled and thanked him sweetly, then moved on.

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