Writing Through the Malaise!
When I am writing a first draft I have a daily word count of 2000 words that I try to stick to, five days a week. That way I find the momentum builds and an interesting plot and complex characters develop (hopefully) and I find I get into a rhythm and pace I’m comfortable with.
I tell myself that when I’m finished for the day, I can read the next chapter from a book I’m currently reading. I also offer myself treats like a chocolate croissant or glass of wine...basically I bribe myself.
And I keep telling myself, I don’t care what you write, just write something! As the saying goes, you can’t edit a blank page.
I have just completed Nanowrimo (November 2009) and found it a great exercise in discipline and motivation. Every day during November I forced myself to write 1700 words. The motivation was the desire to win the competition and produce 50,000 words (all different) at the end.
I think when you’re feeling uninspired, it’s a good idea to look at your long term objectives as well as the short term treats like a shower and sleep. I keep saying to myself, once I have completed my first draft of 80,000 I will have written a whole novel.
Then the fun really begins with the re-reading and editing. It’s a huge sense of achievement.
I work from home during school hours, during the school term. Nanowrimo was so good for me because I knew it would be the last burst of extended creativity before my children started summer holidays. When they’re at home I still check my emails and update my website and blog etc but I’ve made a deal with them that I won’t lock myself away for hours in my office and ignore them. Sometimes it’s a hard promise to keep, so no matter where I am I keep a notebook and pen handy just in case I have a brilliant idea (Rarely happens.).
In the first draft, I think it’s important to enjoy the process, to understand that you are in control of a completely make-believe world...you alone control the characters and what they look like, how they speak and what they do. It’s a fascinating journey and I love not knowing what’s going to happen to my characters next. Writing is a great adventure.
After growing up in Brisbane, I ran away to Sydney, via London, and worked in book and magazine publishing. After many years living in the inner west, I was surprised one morning to wake up and find myself married with three children and living on the North Shore.
I’m not one of those people who’ve always wanted to write a novel...okay, I am one of those people. But it wasn’t until a few years ago I seriously challenged myself to do something about it. In fact, it was during an alcohol fuelled New Year’s Eve party where friends had been discussing the merits of a newly published novel.
‘I could write that,’ I blurted to anyone who’d listen. I’ve long forgotten the title of the book from that night, but the idea of writing my own novel, quickly became my New Year’s resolution. The next morning my husband poked me in the ribs, force fed me two Nurofen + and pointed me in the direction of the computer. I also have a vague recollection of him quietly sniggering.
I thought it would be easy. Why not? I had some ideas, so set myself up with several ‘how to’ books, a corner of an overcrowded spare room I could call my own - and was filled with great enthusiasm—confident that at the following New Year’s Eve do, I’d be one of the very few who’d managed to keep their resolution. I'd have written my first novel and would be well on my way to publication.
In my dreams! That was eight long years ago.
Along the way, This Wife’s Life was short listed for the Varuna/HarperCollins Manuscript Awards in 2005, and then in 2006, Lucy Springer’s Story was short listed. With a hell of a lot more writing, rewriting, editing, and several buckets of tears, Lucy Springer’s Story morphed into what is now Lucy Springer Gets Even. LSGE is available at your local bookshop now.
Meanwhile, This Wife's Life has been rewritten to become What Kate did Next. What Kate did Next will be available in book shops from late December 2009.