Week 35

I know I’m in trouble when I start picking out the crumby fluff from underneath the buttons and edges of my mouse pad. There is nothing like the sight of my wooden cuticle-pusher poking between the plastic keys of my laptop to make me realise there’s nothing doing.

Not much written this week.

I’m still trying to finish off section three, but after finding it difficult last week, I thought about it some more and realised the problem was a lack of drama, that the defining scene – one that changes my main character’s thinking about how to solve her conflict, and prefigures a later, more significant decision – was dealt with too early.

I started re-ordering scenes in my head.

This, of course, is anathema to story. Or so I’m told. The advice for the first draft I’ve been working to is, just get it down. Don’t think, don’t rewrite, don’t restructure.

My problem is that planning is constantly with me; I can’t seem to put it down, push it to one side and forget it. I try to focus on the screen in front, but I have a clear overview of my story (not to mention it on a corkboard in front of me), and refer to it constantly, in breaks from writing, on the bus, washing up. I find it hard to stick at the story for long.

I wonder if this is a modern malaise of the cut-and-paste generation, or if Jane Austen ever forgot what she was on about. I guess she had fewer episodes of X Factor to deal with.

Jane Austen multi-tasking by the pool

Knowing how much needed to be reworked meant I had little appetite for getting down the final part of what I knew would be a flawed section. The final scene was all wrong: the wrong setting, the wrong positioning of characters. I couldn't just carry on. When I tried, I was writing for the sake of it; billowing out sentences and following lines of thought in the hope it would all come together.

Instead I left the earlier scenes as they were, scribbled down some notes about my new, preferred order of events, and started the final scene - the one where a number of strands need to coalesce - from scratch, as if everything led up to it already.

I kept to my usual schedule: a crabby first hour and a half, full of fits and starts, then a quick break followed by another two hours, the best of the day. Usually by this point the ideas are coming much more easily, and I hammer away at the keyboard, distracted only by the rumbling of my tummy.

Lunch, and a final hour, but this is almost always disappointing. Not terrible, but no way near as good as the middle bit. I know there’s not much more in me after an hour, and try to finish sooner rather than later.

There’s probably a solid three hours of writing in every "day", more if I’ve kept momentum up by writing throughout the week.

That’s hard with a full-time job. So I made a big decision this week which I hope will make things easier (if a little tight)...

Word count this week: 1,070 Total word count: 67,022 First draft: 52,019