OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
My word count = 17,399. Here's my video with text below if you just want to read.
In the last few weeks I have learned:
- I am behind in word count, but I don't mind much. I am enjoying the process and exploring ideas. I am also continuing to blog, tweet and read – plus move house, the day job and oh yes, real life! I am serious about this novel so I know it will take a good 9 months to 1 year to actually get into a state that means you could read it. This month I start writing a novel, not finish a novel!
- You can't edit a blank page. Yes, this has been said before but now I actually get it! It's ok to write crap because you will edit it later, or completely rewrite it. But if you don't write it at all, then you will not even have something basic to work with. You can't move the story forward if you don't write something down.
- If you have a problem with your plot, get your characters to talk about it. My book is a thriller and of course, there is a villain with a weapon that threatens the world. I have been struggling to get the details of this weapon without using cliche. So in the end, I had the 2 main characters in a room talking about it – “so what is this weapon?” … evil villain explains… “and why do you need this?”…explains… “and why do all those people need to die?”…… etc. No doubt the scene will go but the idea remains and now I have a clear idea of what the weapon is and how it ties to the plot (plus I got some word count!
- Writers spend most of their time in the outback. The week 2 pep talk email was from Maureen Johnson who wrote a lovely letter based around Australia, where I currently live. She pointed out that the writers life is like Australia. You spend most of your time in the outback, alone, struggling with your ideas and writing and then occasionally pop out to the big cities like Sydney for a writer's workshop or festival. If you can enjoy that life, then all is good. Personally, I left London in 2000 to escape to the outback. I spent 3 months in Western Australia and Northern Territory camping and sleeping in swag under the stars. Being in the outback was a spiritual and moving experience for me so this email resonated deeply. I am certainly happy being in the middle!
- Even when moving house, you can still churn out a few thousand words. I am exhausted from the move but I am motivated to write so I managed 45 mins in Starbucks after the day job. I am now around 12,000 words behind but hey, I am enjoying the process and also feeling like this is a viable book that will take the next year to flesh out, edit and rework.