How I Wrote a Book in 20 Days: A Diary – Part Three

Read parts one and two before reading part three…

PART ONE: CLICK HERE

PART TWO: CLICK HERE

Please note: I only wrote diary entries on days where I actually completed some writing. There are only 20 entries in this diary but the twenty writing days were spread over the space of a month and a bit. This diary does not include my notes on editing (I don’t want to give away all my secrets!)

***

Day #10

Today’s Monday. So that means my last writing day was Wednesday, last week. Thursday last week was a day of finishing editing on someone’s book, Friday was a shopping and seeing my daughter collect a certificate in school day. That didn’t allow much time for writing and/or editing, and we were away all weekend so I didn’t write then either. So now I feel like I have a bit of catch-up to play. I also feel like I’ve got all these ideas in my head that I’ve generated over the past few days and now I’m scrambling to get them down before I forget them! Being creatively energised is a good thing but it’s so easy to burn out, too. At the end of each writing day, I always try to make sure there’s a thread to follow the next day.

While walking to and from my daughter’s school today, I had a thought. I remembered something I read a long time ago. It was a quote from somewhere or other that said (more or less) that it’s much harder to write a tender book than a book of drama, angst, erotica or mystery. I do love writing various genres but I have felt that of late, I’m writing to please others and not to please myself and so I’m aware that with this book, I’m deviating and also pleasing myself. I am also aware that it’s much easier while writing to throw a spanner in the works and make my characters deal with it instead of following a train of thought where the characters slowly and lovingly develop. So, at the moment I’m shutting down a lot of my “plot twist” moments, steering clear of them in favour of writing a tender book which is not designed to shock or thrill, but more make the reader become at one with the main character and view her journey as if it’s real – as if it’s happening out there in the world, right now. I want this book to make people cry, don’t get me wrong, but I also want it to do that without the shock factor. I want this book to gently take the reader on a journey they may not have anticipated, but still a journey that’s very believable, relatable and all at the same time, touching beyond what they anticipated.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about writers and their notebooks. (I mentioned at the start of this journey that it was the thought of starting writing that was worse than actually starting writing. I am well aware that, at the moment, I’m loving the creation of this book but soon enough the process will all be over and I’ll be in mourning for yet more characters I’ve lived alongside and now have to let go of…) Anyway, yes, I have a lot of notebooks filled with notes and some Word documents filled with notes, too. Notebooks are like that mental hurdle you have to get over in order to start writing a book. Notebooks are where you stuff your thoughts when you’re not quite ready (or equipped yet) to start writing the actual book. Notebooks receive the splurge and don’t contain all the detail surrounding each bit of dialogue that enhances feeling, tension of a scene, location setting, resolution or problem. As I progress with this project (much like I’ve progressed in the same way on projects before), I realise notebooks can be helpful for pointers, reminders, bullet points, section ideas etc… but the only real way to actually achieve anything when you’re writing a book, is to do as Hemingway said, and “sit and bleed at the typewriter…” or something to that effect anyway. Because this book has directed itself, and continues to do so, it is seemingly much better off for organic development – and I am very much inclined to agree with Hemingway, one of my all-time favourite authors and an inspiration. Anyway, I am loving the direction this story is going in, but I maintain constant awareness of not pushing myself too hard, while also preparing myself for the range of emotions to come. As a writer, and no less as a person, self care is utmost. Utmost.

Word count so far: 33913

Day #11

I’m getting deeper into the story now, the meatier stuff evolving. We’re in the second third of the book where I always try to start bringing all the characters’ innards out on display, as we reach an understanding of what the matter at hand is here, i.e. what is the dealio.

So, we’re getting to the crux of the matter and I’m delivering more details slowly, in pipette-fuls. I’m gradually building more context, giving my heroine more of a dynamic with herself, but also with all the other characters. She’s now discovered a potentially calamitous truth about her boss which could end very badly.

I’m beginning to see the overall potential of this story and my faith is going to pay off, I know it is. I just have to keep going! And it’s so exciting to think about where this might go. My vision of how I’ll feel at the finish line is still unclear so for now, I’ve just got to keep riding this wave and see where it takes me.

d4f385cf78e3d384b55b40deafb61f89

I added one chapter today which was just enough. I wrote this morning but then spent the afternoon setting up social media posts as I have a sale on at the moment. Let’s see how I’m feeling tomorrow, eh?

Word count so far: 37223

Day #12

After today’s efforts, I can officially count this as another novel added to the pile, as I passed the rudimentary 40K word count mark which takes the book to novel-length.

It feels good. But with all my books, I never write small. I have written some novellas in my time actually, even some short stories, but most of my novels are 90,000 words plus, some have even reached almost 160K. At the moment I’m aiming for around 90-100,000 with this book. In the back of my mind I know I’ve got enough room to stretch my legs out and let this take its course, on the other hand I also have a vague idea what I need to pack into each section so the reader doesn’t get bored. I also want to achieve everything I need to without dulling down the narrative too much – all while leaving a few bits up to the imagination while detailing the most important moments of character development in considerable depth. As someone who’s written over fifteen full-length novels, I am well aware that all this crafting and sewing together of the plot mostly goes on in the back of my mind now, leaving the conscious me to really just enjoy the story.

Today as with most days, I never put my fingers to the keys before ten a.m. After the rush of getting my daughter to school, I need to allow time for my brain to settle and calm. I need the lake in front of my mind’s eye to be absolutely still. So, when I get back from dropping off my daughter, I make a cup of tea. Set the washing machine running. Make all the beds, open the curtains, the windows, wash the dishes. Pick stuff up off the floor. Basically, I’ve got to mentally and physically clear the decks before I can fully relax and sit down to write. I also use this time to check all my social media accounts, answer emails, set up automated media posts… hopefully before the strike of ten when I start tapping on the keys or at least start reading through some bits. The same goes on days when I’m editing – I never edit when my brain’s scatty because it’s easy to miss things that way.

Lunch is usually around one, though earlier if I’m particularly hungry, sometimes later if the writing’s got me so fixated that I feel like I can merely survive on fresh air.

Sometimes I’ll work all day, with only that short break for lunch. A lot of days I use my evenings to key in notes or do research, maybe some more social media… In fact, there was a time I used to be up until one a.m. finishing stuff off. That does not happen anymore (leftover bad habit of when I had no time during the day to write). My health comes first these days. And my writing during the day is so much better off for me getting a good night sleep every night. Speaking of which I’m writing this diary entry at half eleven at night because this was the only moment today I could write it! Sweet dreams…

Word count so far: 42910 ← so achievable when you know how

Day #13

Whoa, I am so close to the halfway stage now, I can almost taste it. Half a novel. Is it true? Can it be? At some points during my days, I’m envisioning scenes and getting chills. I’m trying to fragment pieces of information my mind grabs at and make tendrils of thought into full, detailed scenes. My mind’s still chasing ahead, trying to enjoy the good bits before I’ve tackled the difficult stuff. I have to slow myself down. I know this from experience. I have to let this story tell itself. I have to succumb to creativity.

There are always moments of doubts, too. Such as, who will read this? Will they get it? Will they like the heroine? Is she going to lure readers to live her journey alongside her? Those moments pass eventually. For me they do anyway. I think they pass because I just love writing so bloody much!! I always remind myself, I am doing this because I love it. I love this. I love the way I can live somewhere else in my mind while I’m writing. I love imagining the finished product. I write for the finished product, and I love to see how surprised readers are sometimes, when they read my stories and get a totally different angle they weren’t expecting.

For now, sleep. Tomorrow’s Friday so I’ll be trying to knuckle down to writing another nice chunk before the weekend swallows me whole again. Time really does fly when you’re living the dream.

Word count so far: 46,467

TUNE IN FOR PART FOUR THIS TIME NEXT WEEK!

fc6165718fc5b18c54f659e191a4097c

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s