27 May, 2016

May: Writing, Not Writing and Writing by Hand

At the start of May I began to write the second draft of my novel-in-progress. My plan was to try to write a full draft by the end of the year. In real-terms that meant writing about 3000 words a week. As a full-time mum that was a daunting target but I was ready to give it a go. It hasn't been the smoothest of starts.

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!

5 comments:

  1. There really is something about writing by hand. I think tis the particular tactile experience--a different one from the keyboard.. Somehow you tap into your innermost thoughts. I usually write my poetry by hand first. And I used to write my short stories by hand first. I haven't tried writing a novel by hand, though.

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    1. I don't write poetry, but somehow I can't imagine writing that on to a computer. It seems too utilitarian somehow!

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  2. The great thing about writing by hand is that it's immediate - train, leaning over a kitchen table, hunched up on the settee. And you can play with diagrams (I like Venn diagrams so much that one of my characters uses them too), or sketch cartoons badly, and there's the oh so satisfying swishy nice when you cross out a line. We look forward to progress reports. You will get there!

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    1. Thanks :) I did enjoy being able to scribble a few more lines without booting my computer up. It felt more manageable to write in available moments somehow, rather than having to have chunks of time.

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  3. I'm so reliant to my computer that I can barely remember how to sign my own name any more!

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