I have been trying to get started on my third novel for what feels like forever.
The idea began to germinate almost two years ago, inspired by a dedication on a local bench. Since then I’ve written various scenes and character studies, carried out a fair amount of research, and even began to think about how the novel might be structured.
But it seems that every time I’ve been close to actually starting to WRITE something else has got in the way. Novel number two, mainly: I hadn’t anticipated quite how many redrafts that would need, and I’m pretty sure I’m still not done on that front. I don’t begrudge that, though. I’m not writing these novels for them to sit on my hard drive after all – and I know it is getting better and better with each wave of work I do.
I’d thought I might be able to get stuck in to this new idea in the gaps between rewrites. I don’t think I could manage to juggle both concurrently, but I could probably have managed to get a fair amount of writing under my belt whilst waiting for feedback and allowing it to sink in. Naturally, though, life had other ideas.
Like successfully standing for election to my local council. Something which has satisfied a lifelong urge to become more actively engaged in my community, but hasn’t left much time in the day (or in my head) to birth a new novel.
I’ve found it impossible not to worry about what this all means in relation to my ambition to be a successful novelist. Surely I need to be able to knuckle down and focus, to actually write rather than just think about it, to move between projects in different stages of development? But then, as a new window of writing opportunity opens up in front of me, I wonder whether this novel might actually benefit from being so long in gestation.
My first novel was swimming around in my mind for several years before I was finally able to thrash out a first draft, and by that point I knew the characters so well that everything fell into place pretty seamlessly. There were a few niggles, of course, that needed ironing out – but so much of the novel had essentially written itself in my head that often it was just a matter of sitting down at the computer and the words would flow through the keyboard and onto the screen.
There is, after all, so much about writing that happens when you’re not actually writing. I’ve found myself in idle moments mulling over certain turns of phrase, deciding which is most apt for the voices of my two main characters. And there’s the plot too – the story I’ve been telling and retelling myself as I’ve been yearning for the time to write it down. Each time it has got a little more detailed, a little more interesting. And hopefully that will be borne out in the draft to come.
Despite all this, I do need to get writing soon. My plan this week is to use the index cards I bought months ago to note down all my different ideas for scenes, characters and settings and begin to map out how the story unfolds. I know its structure isn’t straightforward, and whilst I haven’t decided yet exactly what order I’m going to write it in it would be nice to have some sense of how it will all hang together in the end.
This is exactly how I feel about my novel hon, so many ideas swimming around in my head literally driving me insane, and no time for them to get onto the screen. When I’m not home busy with the kids, or working on the blog, I’m so easily distracted it’s not even funny. Can’t really call myself a writer to be honest! I like the idea of index cards, might have to go and buy myself some and do the same, thanks for the tip 🙂 Best of luck, as always xx
I struggle with having my mind (and whole self) being pulled in all different directions too, but I think it’s great that you’ve achieved something as big as being elected to your council, alongside being a full time mum and a writer too. I think you DO knuckle down and focus as, without that ability, you wouldn’t have got anywhere near as far as you have! Give yourself a pat on the back and seize the next moments you have to write. Looking forward to hearing how it all goes. Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting
I think there’s a balance between finding the right way to work for you and putting pressure on yourself. As you say, some ideas take a while to mature and also you can ‘write’ when not actually writing. My first book took three years for those same reasons. I think it depends on what writing you want to do. If you’re pursuing a traditional publishing route then it’s okay to take a bit longer as many trad pub authors have one book a year out there maximum. Personally I’ve found that for the self published route I need to get books out much faster from now on and that’s what is motivating me. Have fun with those index cards!
Oh I feel your pain! I get like this so often and struggle to get all the ideas down whilst at the same time mentally giving myself a hard time because if I was a ‘committed’ writer then I wouldn’t have these issues! Index cards sound like the answer and remember – just keep swimming.xx
Well done being elected, it is great to be involved in your community. I think those cards sound like a great idea for getting thoughts out of your mind but still captured without being lost – that’s why I write lists (which coincidently seems to be the most writing that I’m getting done at the moment:-(). xx
I’m a compulsive list writer, so index cards sound good to me! You’ve done so much in the last year, so much to be proud of. The novel will come, and I’m looking forward to following your journey as you write it x
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