I’m in the middle of the first round of self-edits for my fourth novel and, despite people telling me it gets easier, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Sure, the process has changed in the way that I write (I did the first draft in a month instead of the usual three (ish) and I’m happy with that, but I still hold the same doubts and worries and wondering if I can do it again.
My two previous books have been pretty successful and so there’s a pressure on to better, or at least equal, them, and I struggle with that niggling away at the back of my brain. Constantly. I don’t want to let down those readers who are looking forward to the next in the series and have become invested in Paterson & Clocks as people.
Last night, as I sat glued to the screen, cutting bits out there, tightening sentences here, it suddenly dawned on me that I was probably overthinking things. When I started my first book, I wrote it for myself. It was the kind of book I wanted to read. I wanted my characters to reflect real life, to show real policemen under pressure, they swear, they dig each other out, they make inappropriate quips, they fight amongst themselves, they bitch, all the things that the more mainstream authors tend to omit, and villains who do some truly awful things.
Whether that will harm me in the long term remains to be seen but I decided that that was what I was going to keep on doing-write the kind of book I wanted to read. It’s all I know how to do.
And whilst I was procrastinating instead of writing (let’s call it research-it makes me feel better) I came across an article about the author of ‘The Danish Girl’ and his struggles to write.
The struggle continues…
Late last month I set myself the task of writing the first draft of my fourth book to feature Paterson & Clocks in a month. Yep. 31 days. And, I did it. Let me tell you a bit about it.
Normally when I write a book it takes roughly three months for the first draft to be done. Once I’ve completed it, I will usually take a break for a week and then pick it up again. From there, I will tweak it about, re-structure it, alter, add or delete words, sentences and even paragraphs (I have been known to throw out a whole chapter) in the pursuit of a better, stronger, story. This second phase can take up to three months and so, from start to finish, a book normally takes me six months. By then, I’m sick of the sight of it. Literally.
Somehow, and I have no idea how, I got it into my head that I was being lazy. If I wrote 1500 words a day, I considered that a bloody good day’s work. Really? I’m retired and I retired early so I could write. I can do better than that.
I needed to rethink my working day and so I set myself the task of writing 3000 words a day for 31 days. I didn’t always succeed and I did sneak a few ‘rest’ days in there (I buggered off to Croatia for a week), but I did end up with a 75,000-word story. It’s bare bones though and having read through some it, I’ve cringed more than once. But, it is a draft and I have to keep reminding myself that a draft is a long way from the finished product. What I have now will morph into something that is, at its heart, the same story, but will feel a whole lot different when I’m done.
And, in keeping with my new ‘can-do’ attitude, I’m going to get it edited and ready for submission in two months. Yep. By Christmas this year, book 4 will be submitted for editing and will hopefully be out in January 2019.
We shall see (I’m also editing book #3 don’t forget)