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,  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

Novel Writing Winter (NWW) 2013: on your marks, get set, go!

Stepping into the unknown.

My hands are poised over the keyboard, the first sentence already in my head — not a proper sentence, some might say, as it doesn’t contain a verb, and, nightmare upon nightmare, it’s a flashback told in  second-person singular voice using the present tense. But this is the year for throwing the rulebook out of the window into the shrubbery at the bottom of my garden and going speculative.

You, in a glass case?

Possibly, those are the only five words I will disclose to anyone during the writing process — five words that will take at least 50,000 words to answer.

Are there any other NWW participants willing to share their trigger sentence, with the proviso that it need not stay as their opener in subsequent drafts.

Happy writing 🙂

For those who would still like to join in with NWW, you can find further info at

Novel Writing Winter (NWW) 2013: survival basics

We all have different approaches to writing. Some authors prepare detailed plot outlines prior to embarking on their novel. Others, like me, start with the characters, while only having a vague concept of the plot’s beginning, middle, and end.

The second approach is a more perilous path to follow as it risks the author walking into dead ends, but it can also prove a most exhilarating journey to place characters in situations of danger and conflict, and then allow them to take the lead and surprise you with their solutions.

Below, are a few pointers to help those participating in Novel Writing Winter to meet their goals.

  • Turn off the spell and grammar checker
  • Write the first page and keep going — don’t keep tweaking your opening paragraphs
  • Don’t obsess over the word count — just get the bare bones of the story down
  • Remind yourself daily it’s only the first draft — perfection not required
  • Avoid showing your work in progress to anyone, especially friends or family (trust your own judgement)
  • Only stop for research if you come up against a total blank wall
  • Remember to eat, sleep, exercise, wash, and not to turn into a total recluse
  • Don’t compare yourself to other writers
  • Write the story you most want to tell and don’t try to second-guess the market
  • View the first draft in as relaxation, and the second draft as future work

I’d love to hear from other people about their approach to writing a novel, and any tips they have for thriving and surviving the process. 


Novel Writing Winter (NWW): countdown to January 1, 2013


I hereby give notice of my New Year’s resolution for 2013

For further information, visit my new page, where I hope to encourage as many people to make the same resolution as me and join in with some hard work and fun, starting January 1 🙂

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