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Novel Progress Update

By Susan Browne, 19th of May, 2018

Warning…. this may prove painstakingly boring!! I am planning to think up much more potentially fascinating things to blog about in the future. But for now, it’s kind of interesting to me to see how far I have come with this project and may be nice to look back on. Should my book make it to the end. And ultimately into print and onto bookshelves.

My first two ‘author blog’ attempts have been about using Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method for writing a novel. I was using this method. I did pretty much all of it. I arrived at the scenes list and got totally excited about making an excel spreadsheet of the scenes I had already done. I split up the monstrous word document into separate scenes. Recorded the word count of each. This gave me a calm feeling and of having more control over this big beast that is a novel in progress. I can liken it to trying to hang out an enormous sheet on a washing line. The scenes list is a helping hand. My verdict about the Snowflake Method is that it proved extremely helpful. Now its time to get on with writing the book.

May arrived, and I realised that my word count had not really gone up having spent a month snowflaking. The goal at the start of May was to increase the word count from 36,578 to a bold 60k. Nuts, but I thought better to have a big goal and see how it goes. Using compassion and curiosity instead of despair if that didn’t work out. This is a big project. For anyone who has attempted to write a novel will know. It’s a learning curve for me, even though its not my first time attempting. I’ve lost count over the years. But I have never finished a fiction novel. Not even got half way in fact.

 

I discovered that counting words every day was not working for me. I was often left with less words after a writing session at the end, having edited out big chunks. I saw a quote not long ago, it said ‘what idiot wrote this? Oh, it was me.’ Yes. That’s how I felt. And it was hard to be objective. Was the writing terrible or was I being over critical? I still don’t know. But I feel better having rewritten various things.

At the start of the year, I was writing in libraries, but I have moved onto cafés and even at home. It sounds funny to say, ‘even at home,’ but I used to find writing at home incredibly distracting. There was always something else to do that was more important. In a café, without the Wi-Fi code and in your own company with a laptop, there’s not much else to do. And the white noise in the background is surprisingly helpful for me. A person incredibly sensitive and often intolerant of noise.

The Challenges so far have been:

  • Self-doubt… what if this is a pile of ………??
  • Editing and coming out with fewer words.
  • Blank spaces in the novel where I don’t know what happens, or why this is so, and so on. Lots of questions still that I haven’t been able to tease out yet with Snowflake or otherwise.

What helps:

  • Meditation, first thing in the morning and setting my intention.
  • Visualising the finished product – an awesome book.
  • Writing in cafés and not asking for the Wi-Fi code.
  • Running; yoga or aerobics.
  • Music in the background (big surprise, this is new).
  • Stop looking at the word count all the time.
  • Scenes list.
  • Parallel projects, I have a goal of sending off one short story per month.

Today, for the sake of nerd-dom, my word count is a humble 42,546.

Only 17.5k to do in the next eleven days to come up to speed. We shall see. In the words of Julia Cameron, author of the epic book The Artists Way

I learned to just show up at the page and write down what I heard. Writing became more like eavesdropping and less like inventing a nuclear bomb.
— Julia Cameron

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