This year’s been a busy one in the writing dept. In April, I finished the first draft of a book for Chicken House. After a two week break to recover, I then got started on my next story for Faber, which I finished a (very rough) first draft of at the end of July. Though the two book projects are quite different, the process I went through in the writing of them felt similar, and made me wonder if I’m starting to develop a bit of a pattern to how I work. Here’s how things seemed to go …
Drink tea. Select notebook. Do research. Doodle with coloured pens. A lot. Ideas feel jangly + superficial. Drink more tea. Drag out of self- kicking and screaming- a word count of approx 500 words a day. Constant revisions. Have an idea for the title. Put the kettle on.
More research. Less doodling, more chapter planning. Ideas begin to bed in. Manage 1000 words a day. Stop at 20,000 words for serious revisions/structural edits. Title now set in stone. Knowledge of final lines of story but only outline of how we get there. This stage lasts the longest- 2 months or more.
The home strait- the final chapters are in sight, the story threads start to resolve. I’m now completely committed to characters and their worlds, and feel pretty emotional about the prospect of saying goodbye. Word count soars- 2,000+ words a day. Long stints at the computer. Sleep no more than 4-5 hours a night. This stage lasts for about 2 or 3 weeks.
The end. Typing those final words is exhilarating and heartbreaking. For a good few days I’m still full of that world, still thinking of my characters. I’m raring to get started on something new- but don’t. It’s time to reconnect with reality. To say ‘hello’ to family and friends. To clean the house, take the dog to the vet, pay bills. And sleep. When the tiredness hits its like a steamroller. I read a lot too-easy, involving stuff to nourish my brain. I treat myself to something- a new bag, books, a fresh notebook for the next story?
This time I went a step further. My Faber book includes a main character called Olive. So, what better way to celebrate than get a little Olive of my own…