Monday, 6 September 2010

Getting Back Into The Habit

The summer is now over, the kids are back at school, the holiday pix have been downloaded and the tan lines have faded.  Time to get back to writing...but it's not always that easy.  This is what I do after a long gap.

1.  Read through what I've written so far.  
2.  Feel faint with shock as I realise there's a) fewer words than I remembered and b) even fewer that I'm going to be able to use.
3.  Write a list of essential scenes.  This is even simpler than using index cards and usually fits onto one sheet of A4.  
4.  The break should have clarified my thoughts about anything that's causing me problems with the writing.  This might be unclear character wants, or a mistaken direction that needs correcting.  This sort of thing is always clearer after a break.
5.  I write all my novels as one long document.  If there's lots of re-writing to be done, I'll save the old version, then again as a new version.  That way, I feel more confident if I mash it around - I can always go back to the last version.
6. Start filling in the gaps on the A4 sheet.  I should end up with a list of scenes, some of which will have been written, some of which won't.
7.  Start writing the scenes which need writing.  

What I don't do is tidy the office, answer all my un-answered emails, file my tax return and generally clear the decks.  It's nice to feel on top of the admin, but really, writing time should be about writing.  It doesn't matter if a child interrupts you when you're in the middle of filing your old electricity bills, it does if you're in the middle of writing a crucial scene. Do the admin in the times you feel less creative, and get yourself back into the writing habit. 


badas2010 said...

Timely advice, as ever. You always make so much sense.

Johanna said...

Great advice Sarah. I'm starting a novel from scratch - any tips? I've written a few books already but the idea of starting yet again seems daunting, especially after the long break.

Sarah Duncan said...

Thanks for the endorsement - it's not shared by my teenage daughter today who has taken to wandering round the house telling me that "for the record" I should be doing X, or not doing Y...

Starting a new novel...I'll do a post about it in a couple of days, but right now, just start. Tell yourself that you can always get rid of what you've written later, and that this may not be the final place where you start, just you're having a little play around with some characters with some problems and seeing where the typing takes you.

Ann Patey said...

Oh Sarah, I have sinned. Not a single word since our last class but I am looking forward to getting back to the writing again so this piece couldn't have been timed better for me.

Thanks for the inspiration :-)

Sarah Duncan said...

You've got a month to go, class starts again on the 8th October. Should I set a target? 2 new scenes maybe?

Ann Patey said...

I amy manage one new scene. Had a lovely Q & A session with mother in law about the refugee camps so raring to go in my head. Trouble is we have staff on hols so we're going on extra early and working very long hours, getting home at 8pm with chickens to sort out, a meal to cook and still recovering from the 4 am start on Sunday. Sounds like excuses I know but I am so short of time right now.

Did I just successfully negotiate your expectations down to one new scene? Hope so...

Sarah Duncan said...

I'm sure your one scene will be fabulous - looking forward to reading it.