27 May, 2016
May: Writing, Not Writing and Writing by Hand
I wrote the first chapter. I didn't like it. I couldn't even say why. There was something wrong; the voice wasn't there somehow. I tried again. And again. Three weeks into May and I hadn't even got 2000 words done, let alone my target of 9000. So I tried something different. I wrote by hand.
If I was to create an ideal writerly-life, I would write all my novels on sunny mornings in a summerhouse at the bottom of my perfect country-cottage garden. There would be a sea-view, of course, and I would be writing with a fountain pen in Moleskine notebooks. Later I would sit at my vintage typewriter and type it all up, sipping tea from a chintz teacup. In reality, I sit crammed into one end of our living room, with a view of two baby monitors, praying the boys don't wake up from their naps before I've finished my train of thought. I write on a computer because it's conveninet in a number of ways (including the fact that I taught myself to touch-type). And, despite being British, I can't stand tea.
The only thing I do by hand is plan. I find it easier to organise my thoughts if I can scribble and draw arrows and tap my pencil on the desk. I realised that I also plan by hand because I feel more creative - more in tune with what I'm trying to write. So, desperate to get my novel underway, I started to write the first chapter in pencil in a cheap exercise book. It worked! It took longer, but for some reason, the voice of my main character began to come out. When I typed it all up I asked my husband and my friend/chief-reader, Jenny, to have a look at it (a sign of how insecure I feel about my writing - I NEVER ask people to look at just a snippet of an early draft!) and they gave me the thumbs up to keep going in the same voice.
I haven't done 12000 words this month. I hope to get another thousand or maybe even two in at the beginning of next week, but so far I am only on 5800 so I won't hit my target. I am however, underway. Full steam ahead from here! I won't be writing the whole novel by hand, but I definitely WILL be going back the pencil and paper method whenever I need to sort anything out, or overcome a bump. Do you write by hand? How do you overcome hurdles in your writing path?
I will probably try to write a monthly update on here. If some of you could pretend it's fascinating and cheer and wave pompoms from time to time, that would help me enormously, thanks.And don't forget that voting is open in the People's Book Prize - please vote for my novel The Art of Letting Go in the fiction category!