Diary of a Wannabe Writer, aged 32

Giving The First Draft A Chance

rp_writing-2-300x240.jpgYour first draft needs faith.

I have been thinking about my first draft a lot recently. When I am not trying to start it, I am thinking about it – how I want the story to go, the characters and their backgrounds, the odd piece of description or dialogue that I think could work (most of the time I manage to write things down before they disappear out of my head forever. I have had things disappear and then I curse myself for not keeping a notebook nearby but that’s for another post.)

There are a few ways in which I have attempted to begin my story as I try to figure out where to begin. Should I start it with dialogue? Inner monologue? That’s the problem – you over think and then the false starts pile up and before you know it, you have 1,000 words of roughly the same scene. I end up going back to the beginning as I convince myself that what I am reading isn’t good enough. I worry Continue reading

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That Elusive First Sentence

Diary of a Wannabe WriterThat first sentence has become my nemesis.

I’ve now settled into the New Year and have just about stopped writing 2013 when I should be writing 2014. The new year brought new but familiar writing goals which is to get the first draft finally written in time to submit to the RNA in August (especially as I didn’t manage it last year.)

I have been thinking a lot about the first sentence as I attempt the first draft. How do you pick the moment and the words that will begin your novel? It has caused a little bit of stress particularly as it’s easy to overthink. Of the many books on ‘how to write a novel,’ that I own, having a good first sentence that grabs readers attention seems to be a common thread.

Of course, I know that Continue reading

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A Novel in Thirty Days. Am I Mad?

writing-2My writing world this week has mostly been working on National Novel Writing Month. Anyone who has taken part in it before knows it’s a marathon. It’s frustrating and hard work but it’s such good fun all at the same time.

After wondering whether to work on a new idea, I decided that due to my false starts, I was close enough to the beginning of my current work in progress to work on it for National Novel Writing Month in the hope that it will get me far enough into the draft to not be able to start again (and thus the end of the false starts.) There is some logic in my madness I am sure.

I am about 10,000 words into it now (at the end of the first week) – so far so good. One trap I have nearly fallen into though Continue reading

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Finding Your Own Path

writing-2This week, I have been thinking a lot about my writing process and how to approach it. I have to confess that, at the beginning, I did read interviews with authors, looking at how they approach their writing, trying to pick up tips to assist with mine. If it worked for them then surely it should work for me, right? Not necessarily.

The belief that published authors will somehow have some magical formula; wisdom that they can impart that will suddenly help you produce your book all comes down to many of them, in my experience, saying the same thing. There is no magic formula, aside from sitting down and actually writing.

That’s half the battle with writing a first draft, at least with me and that’s finding what works for me. I am forging my own path, my own way of working – finding which elements work for me and putting them into practise so that I can sit down and write.

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How Much Planning & Research is Enough?

writing-2This week, I have been thinking a lot about the research and planning of my novel. Before, I’ve not always bothered with it as much as I maybe should have done. It actually scares me a little. It all seems overwhelming. I’ll have a vague idea of the plot and who the main characters are but will then find that names will change half way through.

I continuously ask myself ‘how much is enough’ before it stops being helpful and starts becoming procrastination and a distraction from the actual writing of the novel.

The idea of planning also has me wondering, if I know too much about my characters and my story, what surprises are left for me to find let alone the eventual reader? The answer…probably more than I think.

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Approaching Editing

writing-2This week has been a productive one, at least over the last 72 hours. After discovering 750 words.com, I have managed to write on there for the last five days. I have rediscovered Morning Pages. I had forgotten how much i liked doing them and how much of a help they are. It’s not work on my work in progress but it just allows me to get all of the baggage out of my head and onto the page. If you’ve never tried Morning Pages before then I recommend them.

As for the first draft of the novel, so far, so good. I have written just over 3,000 words since the beginning of the weekend. My problem now, is keeping the momentum going. As I may have mentioned before, I have a habit of reading what I’ve written too soon after writing it.

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Getting Past The First Sentence

DiaryIt’s been a quiet week where the word counts are concerned, mostly because we went away for the weekend on a two night cruise over to Bruges. Despite the weather, it seemed like a lovely city and the view from the top of the Belfry was stunning (the stairs up there… not so good. 366 stairs in total.) The tour guide, Mary was a great character and very funny (inspiration for a fictional character, that’s for sure.) I did take a notebook and managed about 100 words.

Last week, I did also get the opportunity to attend the Red Network ‘How To Write a Beach Read,’ and I found it very inspiring. On the panel was Lisa Jewell (I just love her,) Tasmina Perry and Flic Everett.

 It was very encouraging to hear that these best-selling novelists suffer false starts as this has been my main nemesis. I have word documents – some a couple of pages, some only a paragraph. There is only one thing to it, I am going to have to disable my delete key.
If you’re interested in writing fiction, these Red Events are so helpful, especially if you’re just starting out.
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Getting to Know You.

personI’ve been working on the first draft of my book for a long time now and it’s been plagued with its share of false starts. There have been moments where I’ve wanted to give up altogether but if there’s been one thing that has stopped me from abandoning it, it’s my main character.

Carrie is like a constant voice in my head – a voice that refuses to shut up. It’s similar to having a legitimate imaginary friend except that this one is constantly nagging me to write.

When I submitted my first RNA New Writers Scheme project last year, one of the comments from the reader was that my characters needed development. I didn’t know Carrie very well and I should do.

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Making Time to Write.

SnoopyThe last few weeks have brought truth to the rumours that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do. I can’t actually remember a time where I wasn’t surrounded by packing boxes. We’ve been in the new house a week and we’ve still not got sorted out.

However, I could barely do anything until my study/writing area was set up and even that took a couple of days. Kitchen equipment, clothes – no, nothing was as important to me as my little area where I can write.

My writing time has taken a beating. My deadline for the end of August Continue reading

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Another Point of View…

blackboard_first_person blackboard_third_person

So, I’m plugging away at my first draft, fighting the ever plaguing voices of self doubt in my head; the voices telling me that ‘this is rubbish’ and ‘what the hell do you think you’re doing? What makes you think you can write a book?’ 

My main debate this week however, has been point of view. Which one do I choose for my novel? Third person or first person? All these questions and I know I’m not the only first time writer to ask them and I won’t the the last. 

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The Fear of the First Blank Page.

keep writingA blank page makes me nervous but the first sentence makes me even more anxious. I have an idea – an idea that won’t go away but getting it down on the page seems to be more of an issue.

I sit down at the computer, I open up a word document and I begin. The motivation and momentum is strong but it’s not long before these run out and the lack of confidence creeps in, at which point I will stop writing, read what I’ve written and then decide it’s not good enough despite it being a first draft.

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The Mountain of the First Draft.

PieChart-FirstDraftI have wanted to be a writer for a long time but the hurdle of becoming a writer is that, at some point, you have to actually sit down and write a book.

Many people say that they’d like to write a book but few get through their first draft.

Ah yes, the dreaded first draft. I’ve been working on my manuscript for a long time and it’s been through many stages and false starts. I have an idea but getting it down on to the page terrifies me.

I’ve taken part in National Novel Writing Month for about five years now and it’s strange how differently I approach that challenge. As I know no one else is going to see my draft and that it IS just for me, I can write (my record was 23,000 words in one evening. A productive night that I, to this day, don’t know how I managed and have never since.)

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