Wednesday 29 June 2011

Day 60

Apparently it's Day 60 of MYWYN and I should be happily swimming around in 60,000 words. But I'm not. I'm paddling about in precisely 39,103 of my novel plus 2450 words of a short story. A grand total of 41,553 words since the beginning of May.

Ummm.... what happened?

Well, as I said at the start, I didn't expect to write 80,000 words for the same novel. I've never written that much. That would be akin to writing a saga, with sequels, for me - because I write very bare prose. It works well in short stories, and I've found it can work well in longer length pieces, including novels, if I plan it right and don't ever expect to sell it - because unless the font is very large and the paper very thick, it would look very slim on a Waterstone's bookshelf.

Not that it hasn't been done. I own novels that are less than 150 pages. But to manage publication I think you need to be a tried and tested author who fancies a bit of a change.

But that's beside the point. This post is to ask myself where I've been going wrong - not gone wrong, you'll notice. The challenge still has another 20 days to go, and I fully hope to get over 45,000 words. The first problem is I've done a lot of research - not too much, which is a different problem altogether. I do what I need, when I need it. But I didn't fully understand how much research I'd need to do to write maybe one or two paragraphs. This is more a problem with the planning, and not realising the full extent of the story I was hoping to tell.

The second problem is starting with a distinctive voice. It fitted the opening chapters well, but has become forced and stilted as I continue. I'm having to revise as I go along to keep the voice true. Now, I have no idea which bits are still in voice and which aren't. Hopefully that will be clearer when I read the whole thing, but I have no idea how I'll resolve it.

The third problem is simply trying to write 1000 words every day. Although, that is also the joy. I started full of hope and expectation. But life does get in the way. A child is off sick from school for a day. Suddenly the house looks as though it's never been cleaned. All the clothes in the world need washing. A husband changes jobs and is around the house all the time. (Admittedly - in case he reads this - we've been able to keep out of each other's way quite well, but sometimes it's nice to go out for lunch, or have a coffee, or go to the DIY shop, or do DIY or...)

So, the problems have all been my own fault, to some extent. Not terminal, but certainly something I can learn from.

Well, now that's sorted, I'll get back to it. See you in 20,000 words (-ish)!


  1. This is a great post, Annalisa and I'm sure it expresses what many of us have gone through (in my case it was a sick me rather than a sick child).

    Whatever you do don't beat yourself up if you don't make either the target or your own personal target. The fact is you've kept going, and written *something*, and that's an achievement.

  2. Annalisa, can you keep writing without worrying about the facts? Just get the first draft down and then check facts afterwards. I read a blog somewhere at some point this past week (I know, I'm a bit vague!) where we were reminded that it is fiction so it doesn't have to be 100% accurate. The majority of people won't know the true facts of what it is we write about and getting the words out first without stopping the flow with research may help you get more words down?

  3. Sally - I'm no longer worrying about the target. I've come to accept that my writing length will always be limited by my style. I'm hoping novellas come back into fashion with a vengence, then I'll be well away.

    Rebecca - my characters are reacting to the news events happening around them, from 2006 through to this year, so unfortunately I do need to do the research as I go along. I'm assuming certain things, like there will unfortunately be a death in Iraq or Afghanistan on any given day. But things like the earthquake in China and the Icelandic ash cloud have to be a bit more specific. It's the first (and possibly only) time I've ever done any form of research!

  4. *hi-fives* We're in the 'we're behind and most likely won't catch up club' together. But it's not a bad place is it? I mean, you're still going to have 45K that you didn't have before!

    I'm also have voice problems, and it is rather troublesome, but I figure I'll finish it first and then go back and worry about that. I still need to find out where this thing is going.

  5. I totally empathise! Things have slowed for me due to work and family stuff, as well as losing my 'voice'. I've now started again in a voice I'm more comfortable with and plan to write slowly, taking several months for first draft probably. It's all there, but I really find that when my head is full of other stuff or just tired, I can't write. I'm much more of a short story writer as I like the immediacy of it - it seems a long slog to me to take ages over a novel. I do want to, though, so I will eventually! Best of luck with your writing and keep it up :-) Linda x

  6. *hi-five* back to you Jenny!

    Linda - thanks. Sometimes starting again can be the best thing. I hope it goes well for you.


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