Today I added another finished (rough draft) book to my collection, which makes it...six...now....
My first actual novel I began and finished during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which is in November - you've got 30 days to write 50,000 words: nanowrimo.org/) of 2010, almost four years ago. Let's rewind a bit first - I'm feeling story time!
I wrote my very first ever chapter story completely from my imagination around Christmas of 2007, and that ended up being 14 pages (7,500 words) in Word, which was monumental for the time and I was very proud (let me put it into perspective - I was thirteen years old). Keep in mind, the stories themselves were pretty dumb, but the essence was cool, at least to my teenage brain. And I didn't stop. I wrote a sequel (9 pages, 5,000 words), a third installment (a whopping 27 pages and 15,000 words!), AND a fourth one (34 pages, 17,600 words), AAAAND I began to write a fifth book but I guess I got busy or something because I just dropped it (only got to be 4,000 words anyway, and if I recall, the story was starting to get suuuuper cray). All of these were written before an entire year passed. When I was 13-14 yrs old, I dedicated 49,100 words to this idea I had, and I wrote it all in a year. (I hadn't ever actually gone back to see how many words they were or added them up, so this is even very intriguing as well as surprising to me). I can easily say, in writing those dumb stories, I fell completely and utterly in love with writing.
So, back to my first real novel in 2010. Between 2007/2008 and 2010, I wrote little blurbs of things, short stories and whatever; I didn't pick up the idea of trying to write a full-length novel until I was introduced to NaNoWriMo that year. I got really excited by the idea and figured what the heck, I'd try it. I'd pledge to write at least 50,000 words on a piece of fiction of mine in a month. Now, before, I had written almost 50,000 words over the course of an entire year. Granted, I had grown up a little since then, but to cram all that work into 30 days? It seemed daunting, incredibly so, at first. But then I started writing on the idea, just kept writing and writing, and I got it done in a month. At it's finished stage, it came out at 53,600 words. My first novel was born, November of 2010. After that, it's obvious that I simply couldn't stop writing.
That next summer, 2011, I wrote a novella, 29,500 words. NaNoWriMo that same year, I wrote another novel, 52,400 words. That next year, 2012, is when things started to get serious. I was becoming tired of writing one-book stories - I needed something more, at least a book and a sequel or something. I had been sketching out and tossing around ideas for three separate books revolving basically around the same idea, within the same universe, for years. Years. It was NaNoWriMo of 2012, during my first Freshman semester, that I penned the first idea. It's 92,700 words. I had broken the 50,000 word barrier I was under for the first three; I could never seem to get much past it. So this satisfied me for a while, but then, the sequel grew, and then it grew into a trilogy. The sequel, which I penned last summer (2013), turned out 54,600 words. And, friends, I'm telling you all this, because today marks the day that I finished my first trilogy. The third installment weighed in at 54,500, before I've gotten a chance to read back through it and do some quick revisions and additions. Just a couple hours ago, I declared the rough rough draft complete. I am the proud owner of a trilogy. And you may not care, which is okay with me, because I'm pretty darn pumped about it.
The little take-away from this story I can give you is that starting and finishing that very first full-length novel idea is tough. Goodness, it is sooooo touuuugh. I've started millions of things, and finished only these. Some of them I'd rather pitch, but they're my babies and we're proud of each other. So just write, okay? If you want to write a novel, do it. Don't psych yourself out, don't demoralize yourself - just. do it. That first one is hard, but any after that are so much easier, because you have proved to yourself that yes, you can write a novel, because hey YOU'VE ALREADY DONE IT! NaNoWriMo proved the perfect kick in the pants to motivate me to do just that, so if a countdown helps you, then I encourage you to try that. Now that I'm in college, it's hard to find the time in November to write a novel, so now I just do them over Winter break and Summer break
Writing is hard, I know. But to be able to step back and take a look at that rough idea all laid out, well...that's one of the sweetest feelings an author can experience.