First draft – be gone!

This blog has been neglected recently while I finished the first draft of my novel.

Yes, I’ll say that again. I finished the first draft of my novel.

I have writer friends who can get these things knocked out fairly quickly. I am not one of those people.

I’ve had the idea for this book floating around for ages. And when I was on maternity leave in 2012 (!) I sat down and wrote 12,000 words during my daughter’s fifth and sixth month, when she had a morning nap routine. And then I binned them all and started again. And then I procrastinated, did some research and got stuck.

It’s nice and easy to get stuck when you have a full time job and a small child for the simple reason that you have an excuse not to write. And for a while I concentrated on my small part in a collaborative novel that was published last November. So it’s really been the last eight months or so that I’ve been working on this manuscript seriously.

I work full time hours, five days into four, and the other three days I look after my daughter – a three-year old toddler. So my writing pattern is: Monday – Thursday up at 6.30, get us both dressed and out the door, work for 9 1/2 hours, come home, faff doing domestic things and then sit and write. I usually manage just over 1,000 words a day in this way. Friday and the weekends depend very much on the weather, what my husband is doing and how much stuff I can’t get away with doing. Even then, I only write in the evenings.

This has got me through most of the manuscript, including a major structural rewrite about halfway through when I realised it was suffering from “saggy middle syndrome”. Still, I’d wrestled with this way of working and come terms with it and then we went on holiday where there weren’t any domestic arrangements to worry about for a week and I got 18,000 words done a night. Such bliss.

Apart from time, staring at a screen and writing all day for work, being tired and having an aching back, the other major impediment to writing tie is not having an office. In a house with a child this is useful. IN a house where you write when the toddler is asleep and your husband is slightly deaf and likes to watch loud TV programmes in the evening, it’s essential. Except that somehow I have a manuscript without it. But my dreams consist of a door I can close and soundproofed walls.

So I’ve tried to excuse my absence. In the next blog post, I’ll be taking a look at some of the tools I’ve used to help me through my first draft.

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