Working on lots of things!

The Clock Tower, Brighton

Following on from a FaceBook conversation, I thought I’d say something about my working methods and how these methods have to be adapted to suit what’s happening in my writing life.

When writing the first draft of a novel, I used to write a big chunk and then go back and polish it. But when I did the thing I mentioned – wrote 5000 words on Monday and had polished them down to 2000 by Friday – I really felt I was getting nowhere.
So, now, if I’m writing a book or a serial instalment, I try and write a minimum of 1000 words a writing day. It’s often a lot more than that but rarely more than 2000. The next day, I will reread and edit what I wrote the previous day and then crack straight on with the next 1000+ words. Unless I have to make storyline changes, I work through the first draft that way. (Subsequent drafts don’t need the same kind of methodism.)
Writing a first draft isn’t always that straightforward, of course. For example, I wrote 20,000 words of a new book, Love and Freedom, which I had to leave in June to embark on a rewrite of the book that’s due out in November, Want to Know a Secret? Then I went on holiday (to Connecticut), and had two conferences to attend plus another rewrite of Want to Know a Secret? and then do the copy edits (which now, I’m relieved to say, are all done).
So, now I return to Love and Freedom and have to get back into it. As well as wandering through the hundreds of research pix, such as these, that I took in April, I am reading my way through the 20,000 words already written.

The road between Saltdean and Rottingdean

This afternoon, I have spent hours researching US law school, UK rock festivals, handfasting and the autumnal equinox just to work on a couple of pages that are cruicial to the backstory timeline. (My copy editor will be relieved to know I even have a timeline …) I have expanded the scene a little, so the book is a few hundred words longer, but the object of the current exercise is to sink myself back into the story.

When I get to the end of reading and working on the 20,000 words (now nearly 22,000 but who’s counting?) I will return to my first draft process of adding 1000+ per day and only rereading and editing the previous day’s work.
And, to prove that past work is paying off, The Truth About Books has made Starting Over ‘an unmissable read’ and also a reader’s choice for the month. So if you’d like to vote for it (please do!) you can at
Thank you!

1 Comment

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One response to “Working on lots of things!

  1. At least 1000 words per day! I am impressed however you have given me food for thought regarding the creative process!

    Thank you Sue


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