It’s been a week since the kids went back to school and I’ve been able to resume my ambition to write a complete novel. It’s a running joke among writers that we are world-class procrastinators easily distracted by- ooh, squirrel! And have you seen this hilarious photo…

What was I saying? Oh yes – as I continue my exploration of how this novel writing lark works, I thought it would be interesting to occasionally blog my experiences. If I’m doomed to get distracted then I might as well own up to it and perhaps even work it to my advantage.

Week one was a mixed bag, with some important foundations laid in preparation for the actual work going forward. I spent much of it reviewing the world-building, narrative notes and chapter plan I’d made last year, as well as reading through the five chapters I’d already written before the pandemic and lockdowns absorbed all my time and energy.

I also took some time to reach out to some key individuals for their blessing last week – after all, my story involves the hypothetical continuation (albeit metaphysical) of real people whose lives have ended. Thankfully, everyone so far is on-board with the concept.

In reviewing the work I’d already done, I resisted the temptation to make any changes for fear of getting lost in a loop of perpetual self-correction. Better that I press on and finish the first draft before getting the hatchet out, at least according to some of the many writing advice videos and blogs I’ve read.

If I want to see this project to its conclusion, I need to be making progress, not faffing about with busywork (he says as he sits writing a navel-gazing blog rather than writing the actual manuscript – but I look at this as warming up at the start of the week). Or perhaps it would be more appropriate to apply a military philosophy I’ve heard from royal marine friends to ‘get the rounds down’. Substituting rounds for words, obviously. I’m not planning a mass shooting or anything.

But I worry that what I write might be inconsistent and tonally uneven, or that my mood or my undulating health might impact the style and quality of my writing. It’s hard to know what is good practice, but I’m mindful of the Stephen King quote,

‘Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.’

Thankfully, by the tail-end of the week, I did manage to actually get down to continuing the story proper and wrote about 2.5k coherent words (despite some very noisy roadworks outside my house). That doesn’t sound like much – especially as I’m writing in the shadow of a certain Drew Wagar, an experienced author who I’m now proud to call friend and who once famously wrote an entire 7000-word short story (proofed and edited) for my nephew Michael in less than 24 hours. But it was a first – and important – step.

For me, Drew’s achievement has now become a unit of measurement against which I will always compare my writing output. Last week I wrote less than half a Wagar in total, and given my long covid challenges, I have no intention of trying to equal that endeavour in a day, but I do hope for something close to that in a week.

At that rate, I’d estimate my first draft will be finished by Christmas. Assuming that the total word count will be around 100,000 words (or approximately 14 Wagars).

Anyway, distraction over: word brain on, time to go to work.


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