It's been a while since I wrote. I completed my memoir and sent it to my agent and then needed a break. I was exhausted after the intensity of working on a book for 3 years and finally reaching the marathon of completing it, but also this term has been brutal. The demands of teaching have kept me busy as I am teaching two new subjects and this short term one means that the same amount of work has to be squeezed in a shorter time frame.
Finally this long weekend there was an oasis of time stretching before me, an eager muse whispering into my ear, and an empty house with no distractions. I opened my Scrivener document and began to read the manuscript I had started over a year and a half ago. It was my next young adult novel and I had developed a plot using the screenwriting book Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. I had the characters, storyline and theme mapped out. I knew who my young adult female protagonist was, but the male protagonist who was her friend was underdeveloped.
While working on my memoir I had written a 10,000 word section about a friendship that I had with a boy during my high school years. He was my puppy love, the boy who always liked me, but I took for granted. When I finally looked his way, it was too late and so we never were. I realised this section had no place in my memoir so I set it aside, leaving it as my next novel. One night the solution presented itself. I realised that the puppy love boy could be the male protagonist of my current work in progress. And so now I had all the pieces of the chess board, I just needed to write.
My writing method is to write the crappy first draft as quickly as possible. Quality is irrelevant, the only thing that matters is quantity. To this end I do my own version of Nano where I try to slam down 50K words in a month. I have a spreadsheet so I can track my wordcount and ensure I keep to my word target. Usually by the time I get over the 50K mark I have figured out all the scenes in the novel and know the characters intimately, then i go back to the beginning and start smoothing out the rough edges, editing and polishing the manuscript. I keep jumping around from scene to scene, chapter to chapter using Scrivener until I am finished. It's as if once I have so many words-the novel wills itself into being and I don't have to fight for motivation, it just pulls me back.
So my goal is to write 40-50 K in the next month. It should be doable since I am looking at the last two weeks of term and then two weeks of school holidays. I find social media and blogging a great tool to motivate me. Once I write things down and make them available to the world I have to be accountable. So this is me-being accountable.
Amra Pajalić is an award-winning author, an editor and teacher who draws on her Bosnian cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like her, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture. She writes memoir, young adult and romance under the pen name Mae Archer.
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