Thursday, 4 August 2011

So how is your writing progressing?

I’m making steady progress despite a major wobble this summer. I think I got wrong footed by doubting that what I had written was any good. I’m not exactly sure how this happened but it may have been because I wasn’t feeling great physically.

So last month I changed course and started writing my new novel.

Mad? Maybe...maybe not.

As long as I have ideas I will continue to commit them to paper. It’s probably why I frequently stop work on the big stuff and write short stories too, because I can’t bear the thought that I might lose or forget a concept for a story. So it is recorded and if I’m honest maybe at a later date the ‘short’ with a small adaption could slide right into the novel.

However this time around I’m working differently trying out a new format, as there aren’t going to be any chapters… did I hear you cry in horror? It’s going to be one long piece currently divided into four sections. If I don’t try I won’t know if it works. However I can always adapt the finished book once it is written.

I’m never quite sure how my mind works but I do mull things over before I begin to write. A concept will grow organically from one small idea or overheard piece and I will play it over several times, looking at it from different angles until it fixes.

Recently I had to write a romantic tryst. For the life of me I couldn’t think of one single romantic idea! My mind went blank along with my memory banks and failed me until a week or so later an idea dropped in and made me smile.

Now why couldn’t I have come up with that idea at the drop of hat? Maybe it’s because the new book has been nurtured quietly in the back of my mind whilst I was busy and now it’s ready to be released on to the page. And perhaps I needed the perfect angle rather than an off the shelf or standard solution.

But I think I get the greatest fun from putting my new characters in to situations that make them awkward and I like to play around to see how they might react. Of course in fact the reaction is my reaction or my version of the character.

So here are a few of my rules for writing:

• Be kind to yourself.
• Write the first thought that comes into your head and let the idea run out on to the page.
• Don’t edit your thoughts or the writing yet.
• Write everyday if possible, if not possible, write as often as you can.
• Let your work rest before revising a single thing.
• Don’t limit what you write you may not know it but your thoughts may be ahead of your plans.
• Don’t worry or fret about grammar at this early stage. It can be sorted later.
• Anchor the location, describe where events occur. (I’m bad at this and I must improve!)
• Be honest: Why would others read it?

What writing rules do you live by?


  1. So hard to not edit after I've written a page. I need to let things sit.

  2. I think it's important to try new things - like your novel divided into four sections rather than chapters. And yes, avoiding censoring your work when you first put it down is vital otherwise it might kill the inspiration.

  3. Write down notes, snippets, phrases, sentences, character names, anything that pops into your head. Carry a small notebook with you everywhere so you can jot stuff down right away and then transfer it to your computer with perhaps a little more detail later. You never know when a character and a story line will come to you out of the blue and it will be so great that you know that it will inspire you to continue... and then you don't write it down and it's forgotten because you drop the milk in the grocery store. Don't let that happen.