Writing a novel in 90 days
Numbers that end in a zero are so neat, aren’t they? Turning the big 40 or 50 or 60, making a million, wrangling a deal under so many thousand dollars …
Writing a novel in 90 days has the same ring. For me, at least. At the writers’ retreat at Springfield I attended earlier this year, our wonderful teacher, Sarah Selecky, mentioned a book by Alan Watt called The 90 day novel.
Well, I am proof that it can be done! This week, I finished my young adult verse novel about a street artist and a violinist. What I loved about Alan’s book was the balance between writing exercises that tap into your subconscious and structural questions that help you work out the three acts of your book.
This style suits me beautifully because I lean on both my right and left brains, switching between both the creative and linear processes. I’m an editor so I use my left brain mostly to check minute details such as hyphens, timeframes, consistent end-of-chapter questions, with a little bit of right braining to help develop characters and move the plot along. But I’m a writer, so I use my right brain mostly to daydream, make connections, create, with a little bit of left brain to assess the pace or rearrange the structure.
In my personal life, I rely on my left brain to organise our home and the kids, but I love to relax by turning on my right brain with sewing, cooking, painting.
Alan’s book – I’ve never met him but seriously, I could write him a love letter! – is the perfect blend for me. I don’t go too off-tangent because I have a framework to work within but his prompts give me lots of space to daydream and imagine.
So I now have the first draft – so rough it could be used as sandpaper, so full of plot holes you could hide the Titanic in them, such thin, underdeveloped characters you could see through them like tracing paper. But it’s a completed first draft, and I love the premise and my two protagonists.
I’m putting it away for now, because – drum roll – Alan also has a book called The 90 day rewrite! And I have a very polished manuscript, a middle-grade verse novel, that I want to revise quickly before I send it out on submission.
I’ll check in with you in 90 days time!