I’m half-way through writing my new book and it’s the one I’ve been waiting to write for a long time. I am lost in the world of story and I can imagine no other place I’d rather be. I’m enjoying the process of bringing my characters to life one page at a time. I have a basic outline but I feel free to change it as I go along to suit the direction of the story. I write about 90,000 to 100,000 words for my first draft. I aim for 1000 words per day but if that doesn’t happen that’s fine and sometimes I write more. When I finish a 3000 word chapter it’s one that I have worked hard over. I cannot fly through a first draft and leave behind spelling mistakes and rambling dialogue. Every writer is different.
My new story has a working title of Bright Spirit and before I began writing this book I visited the various areas where much of the story is set and read a few books on the subject matter which of course led to more research. However, research is a long piece of string and writers need to know when to stop. So I don’t do a lot of research in the beginning but I do know enough about the characters and setting to start writing. By the time I start the first draft I know who my main characters are and also some of the minor ones. My main characters don’t change but minor ones are sometimes deleted or I add new ones.
I read somewhere that writing a first draft is like pushing a pea uphill with your nose and I agree! For me, it’s a time of hard work and struggle, and I am heartily pleased when I put that last full stop on the page. When I finished writing my last book I can honestly say if my characters had stepped through my front door at that moment I’d have known them because they had become part of my family. But it’s then I let go of them.
Like most writers I have a notebook, for my last novel I had five, but this time I only have one, and I don’t read them again. I disposed of about ten old (large) notebooks earlier this year plus about 100,000 words from a ‘might be used file’. A notebook is very handy.
I always know the ending of a story (although it can change). Bright Spirit is a straight narrative written in first person so it is easy to jump from an earlier chapter to a later one.
I was asked recently about my writing day. I write most days for three to four hours in the morning. I am very methodical in backing up my files on a memory stick and/or emailing them to myself. I work in Pages, the Apple version of Word, and then convert the file to Word when needed. Most of the publishing houses, editors and agents work in Word.
A writer doesn’t produce a book all by themselves. It takes multiple input from many people to get a manuscript ready for publication. It’s something worth working hard to achieve.