As work on my second novel progresses, I realise that word counts intimidate me. When I hear other writers aiming for 2 or 3,000 words a day on their book, every day, I want to climb back into bed and eat copious bars of chocolate. I admire their tenacity, their discipline, their focus.
Like of many of you, my lifestyle allows precious little spare time. As you all know, I have a day job, a family and a very naughty Labrador – all barriers (albeit welcome barriers – most of the time!) that keep me from my keyboard.
These days, I approach my novel in scenes, writing one at a time. I like to get into the heads of my characters. They don’t share my personality, so I need to feel theirs. I guess you might call me a ponderer. I walk across the fields with Bollo, my dog, and let the fresh air swim around me whilst mulling it over in my head. I try to imagine the scene, picture it in my mind – how does it look, smell; what noises can I hear in the background? Then survey my characters, what is happening to them, how will they react?
Often I come back and write something. Sometimes, there isn’t time. If I’ve got work or family stuff to attend to, I just jot down a few notes. But I genuinely think that if I can’t feel my story, then my readers won’t either. And for me, this all takes time: sometimes hours, days, weeks even for a complex scene.
If you’re writing for something special, or doing a competition like Nano, then great – it’s a challenge. If it’s your job and you have a deadline, you have no choice. But, for me, it’s a hobby and a regular writing routine isn’t measured by a daily word limit. I count all the research, thinking and ruminating time too.
We all know that what works for one, doesn’t for another. As Newbies, we have to find the right habit to suit our own lifestyles. Writing should be an exciting, thrilling and fun experience. Like a great movie, or a good book. So, go find what suits you – write and enjoy.
Jane Isaac’s first novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, will be released by Rainstorm Press in February 2012. Jane is still very much a Newbie and with a day job, a family and a very demanding black Labrador, she squeezes her writing into every spare moment she gets. Join her on the rocky road from pen to publication!