As you may know, I am only a part-time writer. Indeed, for much of the year, owing to having to earn a living from a full-time job, it’s very part-time – perhaps half a day a week if I’m lucky. Now this works fine until about this point in the year. Let me explain. In order to fit in writing one novel a year, I have to plan my time carefully. I start writing in January, and aim for 2,000 words a week. In July I take two/three weeks off work and write solidly, aiming for at least 2,000 words a day and finishing with a complete first draft that I send out to beta readers. Late August and September are devoted to editing, and then the book is published in the third week of October. (November and December I take a writing break, and then start again in January.)
Now this piecemeal writing of 2,000 words a week is perfectly manageable until about now – late June. At this point I have about 40,000 words written. And I’m losing the plot – literally. Each time I sit down with Sam, I have to spend at least an hour, and sometimes more, re-reading what I have written so that I can remember the story. And at the end of each writing session, I have to make careful notes of what I intend to write next, in case I forget before the next writing session. As a consequence, I spend less and less time in each session actually writing – and, moreover, I get panicky because I can’t keep up with all the plot lines and I worry that I will forget something critical (perhaps kill off a character twice, or send Sam on a wild goose chase). Frankly, I am now counting the days until I can forget about other things and just live with Sam for those dedicated weeks, and fill my mind with his story only. I can only imagine the luxury of being a full-time author.
So what to do? I had a gripe about it over lunch with my husband, and he came up with an excellent solution (he’s an engineer – that’s what they do). He pointed out that “writing a book” is about more than just writing: it is also about reading and considering. So he suggested that I print out what I have written so far, and for my next diarised writing session, I read it. And then read it again, and again, so that the story becomes fixed in my mind. I immediately printed out this very rough and incomplete draft, cycled into town to buy a lovely new folder – pretty stationery makes nearly everything better – and now I’m ready to go with renewed enthusiasm.