Knowing that I had started late, I decided on a theme and story line that I thought would be pretty natural for me, a story of a girl entering a witches’ school, and undergoing the initial entrance test to awaken her magic. Or not—kids who don’t pass the test don’t enter the school. The overall plan was simple—present the girl with an initiation-type experience and then an adventure—together, a series of challenges that (hopefully) awakens her talent and prepares her for learning magic, and eventually for adulthood. The detailed plan was to draw cards to provide me with vivid images of the people and situations she would encounter, so I didn’t have to plan ahead for what happens next. Though, as with any outline, I reserved the right to decide something else would make a better story.
Having started late, I knew I needed to do about 2000 words a day, and was managing a little more than that. Then I hit Windycon and holiday planning and winterizing the house and, well, life. With Thanksgiving coming up, I decided not to make finishing a priority. I never even loaded my word count.
But still, as an experiment, I think it was worthwhile. I did learn that I could consistently write that many words in a day, every day, if I made it a priority. Even if I didn’t have a detailed roadmap. Even while working full time.
I also got much more comfortable with improvisational writing--given a vivid enough prompt and a viewpoint character I liked, I could pick up the baton and run with it, and consistently get results that I was pleased with.
And I learned how much faster I could write if I kept a story in the forefront of my mind, so I didn’t need to go back and reread to get all the details about the world and the plot and the characters back into the forefront of my mind. Not that that was a surprise, but doing provides a different level of knowledge.
And, of course, any kind of high-intensity sprint builds up whatever type of muscles you're exercising.
One of these days, I plan to go back and finish Mirri’s Walkabout. I got poor Mirri through the initial part of the test, where she obtained the tools she would need in a series of encounters with teachers from the school (and they were not at all what she expected) and now she's stuck out on her own, tasked with finding her way back to the school. She's timid and insecure, but still, she deserves better than that.