I have just hit the 20,000 word mark. At this point you should know if a book is working or not. You've established enough of the story so that the general trajectory is fixed to a point and the characterizations are fairly fleshed out. In other words, you've reached the point where you know if you have a viable concept. Yes, we are cooking with gas, kittens!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Do you know what I love about writing? It's not static. Just as much as a reader is at the mercy of the writer, the writer is at the mercy of her/his id. Each book I've written has been different, and by that I mean the process has been different. Some of this is due to circumstance, some of it is that my ability to write has improved, but I think it's because every book is a treasure hunt, for the author as well as the reader. That's why it's so cool. The first book was the endless rewrite. Part of that was because it was such a horrible book and HAD to be rewritten to make it into an intelligent whole. The second book was the book that I thought I'd never finish--that little ovarian cancer scare--but also, and I think this is fairly common with a second book, I lost my confidence. I had to get it back paragraph by paragraph. It was extremely painful emotionally, but it's amazing what being told you don't have stage four cancer can do for your productivity! Who cares if it's horrible? I'm here to write it!
This book is an interesting mix. I see a rewrite in front of me (mostly the beginning, always the hardest part for me), but I also have that confidence, that sense, oh, let's just have fun here, shall we? Yeah. I'm having fun.
But mostly, and, obviously, I don't think this is true for everyone, but I'm coming at this as a wreader. At some point you should surprise yourself. That a paragraph or a scene pops out of nowhere and you type away not sure if it's going to work and then it's sit back and go, whoa. It's as if I were channeling that scene not writing it. You sit back, reread it, and then, hopefully, smile and say to yourself: I like that. Don't know where it came from but YOWZAH!
Of course, there's always the YOWZNOES! The snake pit of cliche that dogs every writer. Those phrases that one tends to use to death. I've found that phrase cloud pretty helpful. I now have a list of words and phrases I am not allowed to use.
Some day, I'm going to make a map about the writing process. Sort of like a Candyland for writers (I overuse "sort of" ALL THE TIME). The "cliche" spot where when you land it bumps you back to the "Land of Snores." The "Doldrums" where you can't get out because you're writing but not going any place constructive in the book. It's only when you draw a "Delete last chapter" card that you get free. Wow. I think I have a really good idea here!
See. The Id. So sneaky. So fun.