Novel Writing Winter (NWW) 2013 — Week 4: breathe, relax…

writing overdose
square eyes and insomnia
fresh air required

Writer's Insanity#1

For the last week, I’ve experienced the worst insomnia in my life. It’s not that I’m actively mulling over my novel-in-progress when I should be sleeping, any more than I’m thinking about paying the bills, or what various members of my family are up to, or how pissed off I am with the Prime Minister. Rather, it’s a background buzz in my subconscious — the brain’s equivalent of white noise. If I could amplify this noise, it would probably contain much to discourage.

  • You’re too old for this.
  • You messed up at school, so what makes you think you can write the type of literary novel students study at University?
  • Why put yourself through this?
  • Take it easy — read someone else’s novel, watch tv, chinwag with your friends over coffee.

Four weeks into NWW, my word count has reached 5,000, which, at first glance, might not seem very much. In the past,Β  I would have slammed out about 90,000 words in 3 months, after which I’d have spent between 1-3 years pruning and revising until complete boredom set in, consuming all my original love for the story. Some of this fiddling with my writing was a necessary part of the learning experience, but the rest of it was to do with lack of confidence in my product.

With my current novel, I’ve taken a completely different approach, contemplating and crafting every sentence as I go, which means my novel will take about 10 months to write and 2 months to revise/edit. A novel in a year.

This morning, after returning from a bracing winter walk, I did a read through of my opening 24 pages and discovered not a single word I wanted to change. This is what I call progress. So it’s onward with Novel Writing Winter (NWW) 2013, and no more sleepless nights

Next on the agenda — to email one of my friends, who’s a genius scientist. In the name of research, I need to pick his brain about genetics, environmental pollution, and plagues.


To find out more about Novel Writing Winter (NWW) 2013, visit

Author: Sarah Potter Writes

Sarah is a British eccentric who writes offbeat fiction, haiku and tanka poetry. When stuck for words, she sketches or paints instead. She's into nature conservation, sustainability, gardening, dogs, natural health, and reading. Her sociability is something that happens in short bursts with long breathing spaces in between.

20 thoughts on “Novel Writing Winter (NWW) 2013 — Week 4: breathe, relax…”

  1. Write, write, write……then write some more. Hear me giving advice I’ve been working on my novel for 6 years. But it’s coming along. I’m not giving up and I’m not too old and neither are you.


    1. Donna Tartt’s first novel “The Secret History” (published 1992) took 8 years to write. Her second one, “The Little Friend” (pub 2012) took 10. She was meant to bring out her 3rd novel last year, but it still hasn’t appeared, even though she has a publishing deal. She says she takes this long because she’s a perfectionist. I think her writing is brilliant. You can read about her here, if interested.


  2. Dear Sarah,
    When I was doing NaNoWriMo, I didn’t worry about the word count. I would start out by editing the previous day’s scene and then do a first and second draft of the next scene. A scene a day, reasonably polished. 5, 000 words is great. Just keep on moving forward and you will be there before you know it! Best wishes!


    1. Thanks Naomi πŸ™‚ Yes, I like to do a scene a day. I know some people prefer to stop mid-scene, or even mid-sentence, so they know exactly where to start the next day. For me, this would leave me with a feeling of something unfinished, which would make me unsettled.

      I spent a productive hour yesterday afternoon, sat on the sofa with a notepad and pencil, doing a family tree and timeline for my novel, as it was getting rather too complex to hold in my head. It has paid dividends today.

      Hope your writing is going well. xox


  3. Hey Sarah…Wanted to pop in and say Great Job! It must feel good to have your words be keepers! Interesting too that I’m doing the same thing….I’ve done three chapters which add up to around 5000 words too. But here’s the difference for me as opposed to last years NaNoWriMo. I know have a living, structural outline that is serving me so well. When I write something, I know where its going and for someone as scattered as me, that’s quite an accomplishment.

    So let’s snuggle in and keep on going! Yipee to Novel Writing Winter!


    1. Well done, achieving a new sense of direction. That’s brilliant πŸ™‚

      My main problem — every time I set myself a goal to complete a project, life starts upping the rubbish it throws at me to try and knock me off course.

      Forward march, carrying the banner of achievement, I say!


      1. Oh, I feel your pain…its a constant struggle isn’t it? Since I’ve realized that I can sequester myself completely from life, I’m trying to achieve peace around the fact that there will be interruptions. This life is what feeds us and gives us fodder to write about so I try to embrace what the universe gives me….ah, acceptance….easier said than done….


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