Well here we are.
My first Pieces email – a pop-up newsletter documenting my upcoming writing retreat from home. Thank you so much for signing up and following along. I hope you find it interesting, useful and other similar words too.
There are 199 of you as I write. Fantastic! Terrifying!
Quick reminder of the schedule. I’ll be sending you emails most days up until Friday 10 December, at which point I shall stop. The retreat itself is just one week in the middle where I have cleared all freelance work to focus on writing fiction. But I thought I’d share my prep and follow up activities too.
Some other housekeeping for you. I don’t plan on making these emails very long. Some of them might even be very… noteish. I want to use Pieces as a way of tracking and sharing my writing. It is not – definitely not – the main event.
So where shall I start? Let me tell you where I’m at with the novel I’m working on and what I hope to achieve over the next couple of weeks. And before that, some context.
My debut novel, A is for Angelica, was published in 2012. I have since had four children and written zero further novels. These facts are related.
But my goodness I have tried. And failed. And tried again. And failed again. I’ve found it very difficult to carve out the time needed – that I know I need – to gain sufficient momentum.
And make no mistake, writing is all about momentum.
People will tell you to just start but that’s the easy bit. The challenge is to keep writing. And to do it when absolutely no one is watching. When no one is there to pat you on the pat back, tap like or retweet what you just wrote.
Writing, especially on a long-term project like a novel, is all about putting in the hours. Many, many hours. Over and over again. Quietly. Privately. Until one day you are either done or can do no more. There are no shortcuts. It’s excruciating.
So to do all that and to reach the finish line, you need momentum. With the aforementioned four children and my own full-time business to run, that’s what I am lacking. Honestly, it’s what I’ve been missing for quite a while.
So how does one gain momentum?
I see two main paths and the first one isn’t feasible for me, because it boils down to time. It involved forgoing all other commitments to spend day after day with the work, no matter what. It’s how I wrote novel one. But it’s no longer possible.
The other path to momentum is clarity. It’s sitting down to work whenever time becomes available and knowing what to do, whether researching, editing or getting the words on the page. No faffing about. No wondering where the heck to start. Just clarity and action. This is it. Get stuck in.
I’ve done a lot of faffing over the last few years. A lot of second guessing. And if I’m honest, my inability to be clear and make plans has affected my confidence. That’s despite having written and had published an actual novel!
Indeed, I often feel like a beginner. Like I don’t know what I’m doing. Like perhaps the first time was a fluke. If I achieve nothing else through this writing retreat, I would be happy to start the new year with some clarity. I’d love to feel like someone who maybe, just maybe, does indeed know what they are doing.
So here’s my plan.
First, I’m not going to stress over word counts. I do want to get plenty of words written and make that kind of tangible progress. But I don’t want to give myself an arbitrary daily target, because that’s not where I’m at. See above!
My primary objective is to make important decisions.
I have 10–15,000 words written so far, but they are not in order. Some are first person, some are third. There are passages I’ve written two or three times in different ways to see what works. The characters are far from fully formed.
Basically, my work in progress is a bit all over the place. What I need to do is get it all out in front of me and choose a direction. Maybe create a new, fuller outline. I need to settle on the point of view and start fleshing out the world.
In short, my ragtag bag of words needs to start taking real shape. And to do that, I need clarity on what I’m writing. On what I want to achieve. My hope is that by giving myself this solid, consistent time, making decisions will become a lot easier. It will all magically reveal itself. Wishful thinking, I’m sure.
That’s it for this first email. I thought it might be useful to set the scene a little. You’ll be pleased to see from the image above that I have bought new Post its and cleared a space on my shed wall. Very important business.
If you think someone you know might want to follow my progress, they too can sign up to Pieces through my website. Or you can forward the emails.
I’m also publishing Pieces online. You can read this issue on my website here.
Thanks again for your support. See you tomorrow.
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