Thursday, 4 April 2013

the writer's edition - month 1 check-in

Last month on this blog I came out of the writer's closet.  I took my writing out from the bottom drawer and committed to creating 250 words per day in order to finish a manuscript I'd started some years ago. Following this public declaration, I've also started to tell my friends and family that I'm writing - quite a scary thing to do (the telling, that is, rather than the writing!).  And I also promised a monthly check-in on my blog, so here goes:

  • Monthly word target: 8000
  • Actual words written: 12669

Can you believe it?!  I am actually more than 4500 words past my actual goal!

Also, when I add this month's total to the existing manuscript, I have 21,951 words written in total.

Yes, that's 21,951 - about one quarter of my overall goal!!  (I feel like the Demtel man here - "But wait, there's more!")

This really blows out of the water the myth I've believed about writing.  I used to think I would need days on end to get any writing done.  I believed that my children would have to be sequestered into full-time child care and that my days and nights would be fully committed to the written word.

Setting a target of only 250 words per day has been a revelation.  It's quick just to write that much and so easy to skip along and before I know it, there are up to 500 words on the page.  It is amazing and I challenge anyone who's dreamt about writing to take up this simple task.  I also believe writing is a form of exercising your brain - that as you write more, the quality improves and the flow quickens.

Here are a few other findings from the first month:

  • Sometimes life does interfere - if I miss my 250 words from one day, I add it to the next day's target.  I don't just think, 'oh I'm already a couple of thousand words over my goal, I'll forget about it'.  The actual target must be reached.  Any words over that goal are extra, not to be counted in hand.
  • My main characters have changed names.  As I worked, I questioned whether their existing names really suited a whole book.  They didn't and now they have new names...  I won't reveal just in case I change them again!
  • I have changed from the first to the third person.  I'm still not fully committed to either, but am leaning more towards the third person currently.
  • I type straight into InDesign, using a file I've formatted to look like a book.  I know that when I eventually submit my manuscript, it needs to be A4, double-spaced, etc, etc, but there's no fun in that during the actual writing process!  It's much easier (and perhaps slightly delusional, who knows?!) to type into a document that has the name of the story or my own name at the top of each page.  It also lets me check paragraph layout and length and other aspects of words in print.
  • It is time to regroup and go back over my pages from this month.  I need to shuffle sections and start to get the flow of the story sorted.  This is going to be the 'hard work' part - checking through for continuity, realism and making sure the story fits the message I'm trying to tell.
  • Some of my existing material doesn't fit this story - I can see that I started going off on tangents in my earlier draft.  I am reeling the story back in and leaving out chunks that don't work.  I'm not going to throw them away though, as they might fit in to another story down the track.

Well, that's all for now!  Next check in happens Saturday 4 May - wish me luck!


  1. Go the third person if you can - I so prefer a third person... unless it doesn't work... and the first is good.

    1. I know you prefer the third person, Katelberry pie! And that's something I'm very conscious of, can't have you unable to enjoy my book!! Actually, it's added another dimension today that I'm going to work on too... all very exciting!

  2. this is really good news. I've been wondering how the writing has been going for you. I like the idea that writing is exercise for the brain - so true. It is also interesting to hear how your story is evolving and changing. I have things I need to do with my life and I am taking inspiration from your positive attitude.

    1. Hi Avril,

      Thanks so much for your continued support! I'd like to think your insistence of elevating my writing from the bottom drawer has played a timely part as well! I think it really helps to have that reliable creative outlet, if that makes sense. As in, one place I can go to and know that I can write, have my 'own' time - even though it's only fleeting - and feel more content elsewhere in my life! Having three kids is pretty demanding, so it's nice I have an escape!!