How To Write a Historical Novel in Seven Easy Steps: Step Four
4. Write Lots of Words
In the case of The FitzOsbornes at War, I had to write about 136,000 words. Luckily, I didn't know how ridiculously long the story was going to be when I started typing, otherwise I'd have been too intimidated even to begin the book. As it was, I simply sat down at my computer every day, looked at my stack of index cards and told myself, 'Okay. Today, I'll try to get through two cards.' Then, after I incorporated each bit of information from an index card into my story, I'd put a tick next to the information on the card (as you can see in yesterday's index card photo). It was very satisfying to end a day with a couple of ticks, but that didn't happen very often. Sometimes it would take me weeks to get through a single card. Sometimes I'd decide that a particular fascinating fact was never going to fit comfortably into my story, no matter what I did. Regardless, I plodded on. I wrote the book in its correct order, from the first chapter to the last, so I wouldn't get confused. This also helped motivate me ('Okay, today I have to write that boring yet necessary bit about Churchill, but as soon as that's done, I get to write that funny story about Henry!'). Yes, writers are weird.
After about a year and a half, I had a whole lot of words printed on paper:
Don't even ask how many pages that is. TOO MANY. That's why it needed to be edited.