Week 52

Clearly I write too much about writing a book, rather than actually writing it. The latest Google Ad being served to me starts: Have You Written a Book?

Have I? Well, no I haven't. It's been 52 weeks - a whole year - since I went to a writing retreat in Devon to get the ball rolling on this novel, and in that time I've written almost 90,000 words, left my job and got a freelance writing career going.

Not bad, but not written.

I can't stand the idea of being one of those people who's interminably writing a novel. The phrase is embarrassing enough, and I say "novel" with as much squeamishness as "vagina". I'd like to get this over with as soon as possible.

I also want to write this book fast as I worry it has a short lifespan. Partly because I will lose interest in it and therefore momentum, and partly because the subject - though universal - is timely. A film is due out this month about a similar subject, and a stage show later this year. I need to get this written. I need to finish those 90,000 words.

Detail of a clock

Trouble is, work continues to get in the way, and provides a handy excuse not to get on with writing. Currently I am working seven days a week, with the aim that I shall earn enough money to work less in the future. I tell myself that it's just an excuse, but working all day and in evenings and at the weekends does not make me want to jump out of bed early in the morning and start writing too.

Freelancing lacks the stability of a contract, and with every job I am offered, I wonder if it'll be the last. So I take the work, and push writing out to get it done, the very reason I went down this route in the first place.

For a halcyon month or two, I was working 2.5 days a week. It was bliss. What I'd always wanted - bags and bags of time to write. I was broke, walking everywhere to save on the cost of a bus, and eating at home before I met friends. But I was writing.

Except I wasn't. I was walking. Thinking. Watching films in the afternoon, because I can. Discovering the kind of crazy, popcorn-hating misfits who watch films on their own in the afternoon. Signing up to Pilates classes just for the feeling of relative calm and freedom you get doing a nonchalant cobra stretch next to frazzled new mothers. Opening my Macbook in cafes and wondering at my new lifestyle. Wondering who else had noticed my lifestyle (brackets: Macbook). Buying another chocolate twist to frustrate the hobo eyeing up my seat. Enjoying the city I live in.

Unfortunately I live in London, where the roads are paved with coffee shops that cost three quid a pop. I buckled. I took the work. I need the money, dammit. This ain't no writer's garret, and I ain't no Chatterton.

Besides, I wasn't getting as much writing done as I should. It's a strange phenomenon that, given short bursts of time in between everything else, I write regularly and diligently; but given all the time in the world, I fill it with procrastination. It makes me wonder if all those warnings about full-time writing are true. Is it possible? Does anyone do what they love all the time?

First things first: I need to finish this job. I need to find my work/writing balance again, which means finding time every morning, some spare afternoons as well as weekends to get this book done. Not too much time, mind. But time.

Word count this week: 0 Total word count: 95,028 First draft: 85,012