Day Twenty Two

Word Count: 39,404

Not long to go now and I’m still ahead.

Whilst in the midst of this challenge, I often feel guilty about taking time out to read. But it’s a passion and I can’t do without it.

Luckily, one of my writing heroes, Stephen King, agrees. ‘If you want to be a writer,’ he says, ‘you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot…reading is the creative centre of a writer’s life…you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.’

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Day Twenty One

Word Count: 37,694

A lesson learned – yesterday’s day off was not necessarily a good idea in this challenging situation. Getting back into the swing after a day off was more difficult than I expected. I had to reacquaint myself with some of my characters and what they’re supposed to be doing. However, I think I’ve managed to arrest the slide and now I’m back in the saddle.

It’s all too easy to say I won’t write today, but I can’t because that might extend to several days and all too soon I wouldn’t be a writer. I would become, in the words of Dorothy C Fontana, just someone who dreams of being a writer.

Day Twenty

Word Count: 36,414

Still on course with the word count, so we took some time out today and went to the seaside. I thought it might be the last opportunity before winter starts to close in – this was seriously sunny weather

There were lots of like-minded people on the beach, strolling along like so many Lowry matchstick men silhouetted against the sun, low in the late afternoon sky.

The sea air did the trick – my mind is cleared and I’m off and running again.

Day Nineteen

Word Count: 36,414

Jean Paul Sartre said that Hell was other people and he definitely had a point. Visitors often interrupt the creative process, but without this constantly refreshed pool of encouragement and inspiration, I’d be an impoverished writer. With notebook to hand, conversations with friends, full of incident and recent experiences, provide a valuable seam for the writer to mine.

So I might complain about the disruptions, but as long as my visitors come armed with some tall tales, I’m pleased to break off and listen. Anything of interest is written down, of course, that’s the agreement. But the names will be changed to protect the guilty.

Day Eighteen

Word Count:  34,516

A good day’s writing today. Words flowed, the plot thickened. But I eventually found myself in a blind alley with nowhere to go. I had to retrace my steps and find the place where the story veered off so madly, pick up the thread and start writing in a different direction.

Nothing’s wasted, though. The exercise has given me some fresh ideas for developing the storyline in the next chapters. I should listen to my characters more often; they know more about the plot than I do.

Day Seventeen

Word Count: 32,912

Writing, per se, took a bit of a back seat today, hence the poor word count. However, I haven’t been idle.

The most productive part of my writing day is spent staring into space. Agatha Christie said that the best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes and I would have to agree with the sentiment. Lying, sleepless, in bed is another good time, much to the disgruntlement of my long-suffering partner. The intermittent illumination, the scratching of my pencil and the turning of the pages of my notebook to catch my thoughts before they disappear into the ether, never to be recalled, do nothing for my relationship.

I’ve tried waiting until the morning, but I’ve discovered, to my eternal regret, that mostly I remember nothing. Nada. Zilch. Sometimes, if I’m very unlucky I remember that there was something I wanted to remember, but I can’t remember what it was.

Like Man Friday’s footprint, a ghostly impression on an otherwise blank canvas.

Day Sixteen

Word Count: 32,277

Things flowed quite well today. A couple of new characters introduced themselves but I don’t know if I’m going to let them stick around yet. They’re rather peripheral at the moment, but things could develop. This means the plot will veer off at a completely new tangent, but hey, this was always going to be a voyage of discovery.

Day Fourteen

Word Count: 27,731

Good, natural dialogue is difficult to write. Not done skilfully, it can sound stilted and awkward, as if it’s being spoken by puppets.

I’ve been writing a lot of dialogue today, moving the story along with what’s revealed in conversation, rather than in narrative and description, and I was heartened to find this quote from Elmore Leonard: All the information you need can be given in dialogue.

Says it all, really.

Day Thirteen

Word Count: 26,619

If the thought really is father to the deed I should be finished by now.

But I’m over half way and to ring the changes, I’ve just introduced something I’ve never considered before – a murder. When Raymond Chandler was stuck he would have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand, so at least I’m in good company.