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One of the advantages of writing a series of books, for an organised, planning person like me (I was one of those swotty kids with a colour-coded revision timetable that I actually followed), is that there is a routine that must be obeyed.  A new Sam Plank book comes out every mid-October.  November and December can then be dedicated to “research” – or pretty aimless wandering around the libraries and museums that I so love.  And the hard work on the next book starts in January – now!

From January to June I write 2,000 words a week.  It’s up to me whether that’s 285 words every day or – as it usually turns out – 2,000 words every Sunday, but the weekly word total Must Be Achieved.  This means that I have the bulk of the novel written by the end of June, and so have something decent to wrestle with during my three-week writing retreat in July/August (it’s Switzerland again in 2016).  During the retreat it’s 2,000 words a day for the first fortnight, and then real, hard editing for the third week, finishing up with the first draft ready for beta readers.  (Roy and Arthur, you’re on notice.)

One of this Christmas’s most popular gifts was apparently the fitness bracelet, for keeping track of your level of activity, heart-rate, calorie consumption and so on.  I’d quite like a desk-bound version – the WritBit, if you will – to log my writing output: the hours spent at the desk and the number of words what I writ.  But for now I will revert to my usual rather archaic tracking device: it’s an index card with two columns detailing “week ending” and “word count”.  And for this first week of the new year and “Plank 4”, I can report a word count of 5,371.