So two years ago, when I was writing THE MUSES, I wrote roughly 100 pages before I figured out what was actually supposed to happen in the story. Then I scratched everything I had written and started over. Maybe this is just a really long way of writing an outline or doing prep work, but it seems to work for me.
Earlier this month, I was busy working on the SEQUEL for THE MUSES, but I also really wanted to do NaNoWriMo this year. I had the insane ambitious idea that somehow I would finish a rough draft (around 80,000 words) of THE SEQUEL by the end of October so I could start some stand-alone-novel-about-a-vague-high-school-new-age-whatever project in November. I only had about 10,000 words of the SEQUEL (first titled UNTITLED SEQUEL and then MOUNT OLYMPUS and now I’m back to SEQUEL again) when I decided this, but somehow I was going to do it. (Not sleeping?)
So I’m chugging along today and I get to page 96 (about 26,000 words) when I realize the scene I’m writing belongs at the end of the book. Which would be great if I was on page 396, but I wasn’t. So it occurred to me that instead of writing my rough draft skeleton, all I really have been doing so far is my extensive prep work. I actually need to scratch the whole thing and start over because none of this stuff really happens except that scene that should be at the end.
At first I thought “well, I’ll just wait until after NaNoWriMo,” and then I had the bright idea: why don’t I work on the novel I actually want to write right now for NaNoWriMo? Brilliance! (So I’m a little slow.) I don’t know why I got this idea in my head that a sequel wouldn’t “count” or that I needed to do something else and get out of THE MUSES world, but that’s no bueno. I need to stay in THE MUSES world. Things are just getting good! I’m just figuring things out! I have written my crap 96 pages, yes, but now I have *ideas* and I can figure out what is actually supposed to happen, and the 96 pages is a great starting off point. It’s like a diving board. Or something.
So now I can kind of relax for the rest of October, toy with my 96 pages/outline/whatever, read a lot, and not start working on my “real” first draft until November. I still get to participate in NaNoWriMo, and I have a rough draft of SEQUEL by the end of the year. Everyone wins. Hoorah!