My challenge to myself in the second half of this year was to write a novella and have it published by Christmas.
I started writing it on the 31st of July, and it’s fair to say that it didn’t go quite as I envisaged.
The story I wanted to tell turned out to be much bigger than a novella. Indeed it doubled in length so that it was a short (50,000 word) novel.
I wrote in this diary a few weeks back about how I was going to miss this target. But I still think if it had stayed the novella I’d originally intended, then I’d have hit my goal.
Instead it’s a novel, and it’s a novel I’m damn proud of.
And one of the things that makes me feel particularly chuffed is that I started it on the 31st of July, and yesterday – less than three months later – I sent it off to the editor.
I used to be annoyed at myself for being a slow writer. It seemed that the most I can manage is a book a year. If that. With jealousy I used to stare at the more prolific writers and wonder how they managed it.
Now, I’ve found a way for me not to match the Stephen Kings of the world, but at least get more of my ideas out there.
Every train trip, every lunchtime, every evening at home is now structured around writing. I have the goal in sight to get this particular chapter finished, that section done, the book completed as fast as I can.
Before I begin I break the story down into thirds, and then I plot out the first third. Then knowing what’s going to happen in each chapter of that third I start scribbling them in my notepad. When I’m getting to the end of writing that third, I plot out the next one, and when I’m writing that one in the notepad I start typing up the first section. I basically get a conveyor belt on the go where I am always writing and rewriting and constantly shaping and polishing the book.
The result? I’m writing quicker, and I think I’m writing better.
The above is just a rough guide to my process. One day perhaps I’ll try and break down the formula, the schedule I’m now using, so that others out there who are struggling to write fast can take some inspiration.
For now though, if you’ll forgive me, I’d just like a little moment of self-indulgence in which to feel that little bit chuffed.
If you fancy reading a FRJ short story, there’s one available right here.