I recently (as in yesterday) started writing a novel, a new novel. I wrote 720 words, and then I went on Twitter to announce that I was working on a new project. I called it a "zygote." Naturally, that got me thinking about how writing the first draft of a novel is like being pregnant, how it takes you through all the same stages, the same emotional ups and downs.
Phase 1: The Zygote Phase, 0-10,000 words: It's too early to tell anyone you're working on a new novel because it could still be easily aborted (consciously or spontaneously) at this point. You're excited and full of hope when you think about what this novel could be, how it could change your life, but you're trying not to get too attached.
Phase 2: The First Trimester, 10,000-30,000 words: Now the book is actually starting to look like a book. The story is starting to form and if you put your ear up to the screen, you can almost hear the heartbeat of the thing. You're starting to get excited now, but it's still too early to start talking about it for fear of jinxing things.
Phase 3: The Second Trimester, 30,000-50,000 words: The bloom is off the rose, and you're really getting sick of this whole process. Yeah, the book is really starting to take shape at this point, but is it the right shape? As much as you love these characters, you're starting to regret ever giving them life. Nothing seems to be going as planned, and you still have twenty-five thousand words to go. Plus, you've been sitting on your ass so much, not to mention stress-eating Oreos, that your body is starting to spread to Jabba the Hutt proportions.
Phase 4: The Third Trimester, 50,000-60,000 words: The second trimester/second act freak-out having passed, you're now starting to enjoy this process again. You're in the groove. Sure, you're out of shape as all get out, but you have something concrete to show for all the work and resulting Oreo cookie bloat.
Phase 5: The Home Stretch, 60,000-70,000 words: The end is near. It is so near you can feel it. Right now getting to the final sentence is the only thing on your mind, and you no longer even care how you get there. The goal right now is to finish the novel as quickly and painlessly as possible. You throw out your rules and plans and personal beliefs, using every trick you can think of (place fillers! deus ex machina) just to get to the end.
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