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  • Writer's pictureSydney J. Shields

What am I writing now?

Last month, I sat down to write an entire novel in 1 week.


And I failed.


I made it to almost 41,0000 words out of my goal of 65,000. I finished the first draft about 2 weeks after that, and I have been rewriting/editing daily since then. It has been taking such a toll on me because it feels so far from being done, and I thought this entire project would take much less time.


I genuinely thought that I would write all 65k words in a week, then edit for the rest of May and get a final word count between 70k - 80k, then have beta readers at the beginning of June, and then be almost ready to query now. WHY DID I THINK THAT????? WHERE did I find the AUDACITY??????????


This book is SO FAR from being polished and ready for queries. It will be AT LEAST 2 weeks before it is even ready for beta readers, and I'm positive that they will have a ton of feedback that will lead to another round of edits.


That's fine! That's cool! I'm cool! I just need to keep pushing through until the thing is DONE.


All this to say, I was not prepared for the difficulty ahead of me when I started this project.


And I'm still not.


BUT here is what I'm thinking: when I hit 20k on tiktok, I'll do another "One Novel One Week" Challenge, and I'll be so much more prepared. I also want to be even more transparent during this challenge than I was last time. I want to show everything—the prep, the outline, the breakdowns, and basically anything I can get away with (without spoiling the book).


I just hit 15.5k this morning so there should be a good bit of time before this challenge. I'm writing this blog now because I'm currently brainstorming for this upcoming book, and I wanted to show you every step!


Of course, right now all I have is a bunch of incomplete sentences on a mostly blank document. But that's how it starts!


Here are the vibes:

(I might change my mind and write a different idea but here's what I'm thinking now)

- Non-western mermaids

- Pirate Queen

- Tragic Ghost story

- If you mixed DEAD TO ME x PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN x HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE and made it sapphic


Now, I want to be totally honest here. I am genuinely struggling to push through the edits of the last novel I wrote in a week. It has been incredibly taxing, but I mostly attribute that to the fact that I wasn't just trying to finish a draft in a week; from the beginning, I was trying to get a book to the querying stage as fast as possible. THAT is why I'm so burnt out over this.


Drafting is easy and fun and very rarely stressful for me. But the drafting phase ended a long time ago. Normally, I take a nice long break after I finish a draft. For WHERE THE WATER BURNS, I finished it I think late November/Early December of last year, and I didn't start editing until February. I didn't even look at it again until then. And to be honest, I still don't really think that it's done. I sort of just said...maybe it's good enough???? And sent it out for querying (don't do that. bad idea. rejection, rejection, rejection).


I am just the most impatient person ever, and querying already takes SO LONG. My thought process at the time was this: If I send out queries NOW, I probably won't get any requests for at least 6 weeks because that's the timeline I see for a lot of agents. By the time I get requests, I'll have done an additional 6 weeks worth of editing. I AM A GENIUS!!!!!


....Except I got a request the next day. THE NEXT EFFING DAY?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! When the WHOLE INTERNET told me that I would be lucky to hear back AT ALL?!?!?!?! I was so excited but also SO MAD LMAOOOOO


So, as you can imagine, I got a rejection on that request. It was SO nice and had real feedback that I'm trying to implement into my new WIPs.


And, you guessed it, my queries! I am not sending out a query for this new book until the manuscript is perfect and polished. I learned my lesson.


It's a learning process! Watch me make mistakes and then DON'T DO WHAT I DO!!!! But also, you should finish your draft. Definitely do that.



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