Monday, January 14, 2008

NaNoWriMo: The Fallout

I'm a freelance writer by day. And I've just landed a new client. While I usually don't write about freelance writing topics on this blog (I have another blog for that purpose), I feel there's enough spillover on this one to make a post here justified.

My new client wants me to write a paranormal romance novel. She's given me the spec--a brief description on the topic, similar to a dust jacket description; lengthy character descriptions; and about 37,000 words of writing. My job? To outline the rest of the book, see where it's going, and then finish it. Luckily enough, our writing styles are similar enough to be nearly indistinguishable, and I feel confident I can write a seamless middle and ending to her more-than-a-little-muddled beginning.

I love my new client. She's very writer-friendly. She can't pay me up front, but she can promise me a healthy cut of the royalties. 100% of them, to be exact. Yep, she plans to let me take it all--although I have to let her use her name as the author. Even better, she loves my work. I've just finished the outline, sent it to her, and received a response later today: "Oooh, BRILLIANT!! I especially loved the bit about the talking space unicorn!"

That's hyperbole, of course. There is no talking space unicorn. It's really more of a zebra, with antlers.

Okay, I have a confession: My new client is me. NaNo has come and gone, and while I didn't finish my book, I did get a healthy start. And I've also decided to do something a little different with my writing. With NaNo, I struck off blindly, letting my fingers fly as fast as my imagination would take me. That's great for pure inspiration, but I'm slowly learning that it's not enough to sustain me through a whole book project. I keep getting lost. And when I get lost, I start over, thinking that if I only start in the right spot, I can finally make it to the end.

But here's the thing: I also write professionally. And I've easily written enough in the year and a half I've been in business to fill several books. With client projects, I'd never dream of setting off without a thorough understanding of exactly how I'd get there. So I've decided to do something a little different: instead of relying on sheer imagination and inspiration to get me to the end, I've decided to treat this book project as I would any other freelance writing project. I've written out a basic, 300-word teaser description (which I've found keeps me very focused), then constructed an outline. It's not the most exhaustive outline; I didn't write a detailed overview of each scene. Some areas are more fleshed-out than others. But now I know what will happen from beginning to end, and I'm hoping my inspiration and imagination will carry me through the areas that are not as detailed.

My new client is very lenient. She is allowing me free rein to finish this, as long as I follow the outline I've agreed on. She approves of my writing style and has a great deal of faith in me. The only thing is this: she is intolerant of missed deadlines. She insists I keep to a schedule of 2500 words per week. I can go over some weeks if I want, but I may not go under. That's fine with me; I never miss a deadline for any of my clients.

It's time to treat my creative writing as seriously as I take my freelancing. It's time to have a detailed plan and follow it, and not to skip my deadlines. Ever. For any reason. This may be the most important client I ever work for.


Anonymous said...

What a scrumptious post! You totally had me hanging on every word. I had a pretty vivid image of the client, shocked as I was by the fact that she was going to let you keep 100%.

And what a great idea to treat yourself as a client. I love it! This was the "make my day" post for today and I thank you.

Melissa Donovan
Writing Forward

Felicia said...

LOL I'm glad you love your new client ;) And that sounds very wise to treat it like a job. That will surely help to keep you organized and on task. You could even do a project timeline so that you can aim to meet your deadlines :)

Kirsty said...

What a fabulous idea!

You completely had me at the beginning of the post - I was wondering who this eccentric lady was who would do such a thing.

Maverick said...

Yep, she's pretty eccentric, and her standards are sometimes impossibly high. But strangely enough, we get along. I think I'll keep her around for a while :-)

Maverick said...

Thanks! I really think it's important to take your novel writing seriously as part of your job--not just the thing you do on the side, when you have time. So part of my New Year's resolutions is to finally treat it like a job this year--no excuses, no skipping a day, setting deadlines and sticking to 'em. I think it will work--I've done it successfully plenty of times for other people.