From Sprint to Marathon
Summer is my time to write. Since I still work full time as a teacher (though I’m blessed to do it out of my house), I make the most of my breaks and pour myself into my writing. My goal at the beginning of this summer was simple—revise Angel Resolved (book 4 of the Lauren Drake series) so I could send it to beta readers and complete the rough draft of my next book, Once Lost. Simple enough, right? After all, my mind wouldn’t be divided by having to do school work and I’d have a lot more hours in my day. What I didn’t anticipate was having to spend so much time revising Angel Resolved. I might have forgotten that in my push to finish the rough draft in January, it ended up being very rough. So, I poured myself into creating every scene to make sure it was what it should be.
By the time I wrapped that book up the second week of July, I only had three weeks left of my vacation. So, I open the rough draft of Once Lost and figured out how many words I needed to reach 80,000 (the size of the typical novel) and then divided it by twenty-one days. 3,000 words a day became my goal, roughly four hours of typing. Not easy, but definitely possible. What I forgot to figure in was research time. I found myself spending hours watching baseball videos on youtube, reading blogs about workout programs, researching cities and places my character goes to. I was spending about six hours a day writing and researching and still didn’t meet my daily goal of 3000 words. When I reworked how many words per day I needed in order to finish in a week and a half, I was up to 5,000. I laughed as I stared at the number on my calculator thinking, “Lord, how in the world am I going to do that? There’s no way.” But the Holy Spirit was gracious to remind me that I can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.
In that moment I shot up a simple prayer. “God, I’m willing but you have to help me. You have to make it flow. When I sit down to write, you have to bring it out of me.”
The next week was an amazing testimony of God’s love and faithfulness. I quickly realized typing 5000 words a day would be impossible if I was going to continue being an effective mom and wife. The interesting thing about this book is from the beginning I’ve heard the main character, Danny, speaking the words to me. Like he’s dictating the story I need to write from his perspective. That led me to the conclusion that if I’m simply recording the words coming to my mind, there’s no reason I couldn’t speak them, then go back and edit. A whole new world was open to me. One day I went grocery shopping and by the time I returned home I had spoken 1500 words of my book. I suddenly saw how God was truly going to help me achieve this goal. A goal that seemed completely out of my reach except with His help. This became my norm. Speaking words at random times into my phone and then transferring them from the email draft that I started into my actual document to add quotation marks, punctuation, and tighten up the writing. With the kids on vacation with friends, I poured myself into my writing. I was on a roll, writing/voicing 6500-7000 words in one day! I watched the word count climb daily. The end was near and I was sprinting to the finish line.
When I reached 58,000 words, I realized I had a serious problem. There were major chunks of my novel missing and I should have been over halfway done. The story was like an onion—with every layer I peeled off it grew more intense. The emotions, the spiritual lessons, the deeper understanding of who we are as people, whether teens or parents. That’s when I realized I needed to go deeper and develop these characters the way they should be so people could relate. So people could see their own story in these fictitious characters to be inspired. God gives us the power to stand against temptation. So they would truly understand the redemption of Christ and how completely loved we are by our Father, regardless of our behavior. The thought that kept rolling around in the back of my head was that I was not writing one book but a series. This overwhelmed me because I was determined to finish this summer. I pushed the idea to the back of my mind and continued writing.
That day I wrote over 7,000 words. When my husband returned home from work early the next morning and I finally shut my computer, I sighed.
“My book is too long. With every scene I write I realize I need to go deeper. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
“It sounds like you’re writing a new series,” he said.
I immediately yelled “Yes!” because in that moment he spoke the words confirming what God had already put on my heart.
That’s how one book became three. The next morning I divided them and suddenly my word count was back in the 20,000 range, but now it was spread across three books. It was a little discouraging, however, I made a new goal. By January, I will finish three rough drafts for the Once Lost series. I figured that’s not too outrageous of a goal considering I almost wrote an entire draft in three weeks.
My sprint has turned into a marathon. Danny is still whispering his story to me and honestly, it’s a hard story to tell. But I’ve made this commitment, to myself and the Lord that I’ll write the stories He gives me.
My summer break is over. In another week the amount of driving I need to do for the kids will double. By the end of the month, it will triple and we will begin our 11th year of homeschooling. There will be papers to grade and lessons to teach and a whole lot of work to do for my teaching job. But I won’t let that stop me from achieving my goal, the goal God has placed in front of me and in my heart. I’ll keep speaking the words as they come, then polish them on paper. And most of all, I’ll keep praying. I’m praying for wisdom, inspiration, guidance, that He will multiply my time, that I can glorify Him with my time and with my effort. I’ll continue running this marathon, striving toward the finish line when it will all finally come together. I know my Father will be looking upon me saying, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”
Has your sprint turned into a marathon? Is the healing taking longer than you expected? Is that perfect job nowhere in sight? Is that dream so slow in coming you feel as if you’re crawling to the finish line? Don’t give up. It’s time to finish well. Whether it takes an extra day, week, month, or year, God’s timing is perfect. Commit yourself and your plans to Him. Ask Him to use your life for His glory. When you do, He will be your coach, encourager, and counselor along the way. You don’t need to fear the marathon because He is both beside you AND at the finish line cheering you on. It’s your race, my friend. Determine to run it well.