100,000 Words

This is a personal victory post, plain and simple. I’m patting my own back, and it feels great. This past week, I reached the 100,000 word (400 page) mark on my manuscript.

In the grand scheme of the publishing game, it’s a small victory, but perhaps the most important one to me as a writer. 100,000 is a good looking number, I tell you what, and it represents a lot of hard work, and a lot of personal breakthroughs. The only personal achievement that will feel better is finishing the novel. Everything else that I hope will follow will be an effect of my personal accomplishment.

For years, I sat in the group of dreamers. I was fascinated by the idea of writing my own book. I can remember trying to draw my own “fantasy world map” as far back as my early teens. I soon gave up, cursing my lack of creative abilities and resigning myself to pursuing “normal” disciplines like math and science.

Many years later, after completing a mechanical engineering degree and constructing a nice “normal life” for myself and my amazing wife, I returned to my dream of creating something fantastical. I brainstormed and daydreamed and researched for months, years, but again seemed to come up short on Golden Ideas. I struggled to discover an interesting character cast. I labored to draw up a plot that followed the appropriate form according to writing experts. I toiled, studying writing books, trying to read novels in a new light, hoping to glean the secrets of writing a bestseller. I wanted to learn all of the secrets before I invested enormous effort into writing a book.

December 26th 2012 was the day I gave up. I threw all of my tedious outlines, maps and character bios on the table and put my pen to paper. Fingers to keyboard. Whatever.

And today, I can proudly proclaim that I’ve written my first 100,000 words of cohesive work. I couldn’t be happier.

What I’ve discovered over the course of these past seven months in which I’ve dedicated myself to writing is that for me, the creation process is almost entirely composed of hard work and is manifested in a very different form than I had anticipated.

I’ve found that I am capable of profound creativity. More creativity than I had ever dreamed. My novel has taken shape as I’ve freed myself from formulas and tables. I’m in love with my characters. My plot is exciting. The world is soooo cool. None of it is perfect, but I’m damn proud of what I’ve done.

And you know what? My back-story and outlines haven’t gone to the trash. In breaking out of the cage of being strictly an “outline” writer, I not only opened myself up to some exciting discovery writing, but my outlining ability improved. What I failed to recognize before is that novels are a living thing, and mine needed the freedom to grow. I have changed my story and my characters more times than I can count, but they are real, meaningful changes with purpose and direction.

The point of this post, if there is one, is that each of us might benefit from liberating ourselves from any arbitrary label, stereotype or method. Try new things. Create something. Find that thing you love to do most and get to work changing your world.

-Scott