Novel Writing Winter (NWW) 2013 — quote of the week: “The authorities won’t approve of that!”

The first week in February has got off to a positive start, with me managing to organise myself into a work routine not achievable during the first month of Novel Writing Winter (NWW) 2013. I’ve written from 11 a.m. to 3.30 p.m every day, only allowing myself to go on-line to check facts relevant to my work in progress.

I’m not going to disclose what my husband was referring to when he said “the authorities won’t approve of that”, other than to say it was one of those “how-to-do” things freely available on the internet. He seemed relieved when I assured him I wasn’t intending to write a step-by-step account of this particular procedure but just needed to get my head around the subject to prevent some smart arse reader accusing me of talking crap.

When I started my latest work, research was far from my mind. Since then, the story has grabbed hold of me and demands I put an end to playing it safe. This is a challenge I can’t afford not to take. A beta reader of my previous novel (and the novel before that) said to me “this is great, but when are you going to write a serious work?” By serious, she didn’t mean a novel devoid of humour, but one that raised the literary stakes and took more risks.

There are lots of “how-to-do” books out there about the writing process. Quite a few of them are written by people who’ve never had a work of fiction published themselves. I think the best way to learn about writing fiction is to read, read, and read an eclectic range of published fiction, and to write, write, and write, all the time raising the bar.

A psychologist friend of mine once remarked, “Skills acquired through trial and error learning were the best remembered, as long as you didn’t kill yourself in the process”.

What risks have you taken this week?