Tag Archives: coffee

My editing essentials

This really isn’t the easiest time of year for keeping motivated and focused on an edit. The burst of enthusiasm that January brings has passed, and yet it’s still very much still winter. The cold, wet days are taking their toll and, whilst there’s a glimmer of hope in the lengthening hours of light, springtime – let alone summer – still feels a very long way away.


At this point in the last two years I’ve been in the early stages of first drafts, when everything is exciting and new and I’ve just been able to write without fear of getting it wrong. But this year I’m attempting the third draft of my latest novel, and whilst it’s actually going pretty well I’m having to pull out all the stops to keep things that way.

So I thought I’d share my editing essentials: the crucial elements that have kept me going when the going’s got tough, the crutches I’ve turned to when I’ve been sorely tempted to curl up under the duvet (or at least under a blanket on the sofa whilst Arthur watches The Lion King for the umpteenth time).

First on the list is…


No surprises there then. I have always really appreciated a decent cup of coffee, and since Leigh bought me a gorgeous DeLonghi coffee machine for my birthday last year it’s become something of a ritual.


I like my coffee organic and strong, with a generous serving of frothy milk. One with breakfast, and another (with a large glass of water for good measure) when I sit down to write.

Almost as important for firing up the brain cells is…


I’m generally on a bit of a healthy eating tip at the moment, but decent dark chocolate is definitely one of my weaknesses. My brand of choice is Plamil – organic, nut free and delicious – and I will invariably enjoy a couple of squares of their ginger chocolate, or if we’re out of that a handful of chocolate drops, whilst I sit down and gather my thoughts.

For that of course I need a bit of peace and quiet, which is one of the many reasons why I love my…


I have made no secret on this blog of my love for the Connecta baby carrier – and in fact you will find me extolling its virtues over on their blog too. But it really has been invaluable for the tricky business of writing whilst looking after a toddler.


Arthur still naps in the sling, as he has ever since he was a tiny baby. I think the fact he enjoys his cuddles so much is one of the reasons why he still often has two naps a day. The design of the Connecta means that it is essentially supporting him to sit on my lap, so his (ever increasing) weight is spread evenly and unless he has a really monster sleep it’s pretty comfortable. And knowing that he is safe and close and happy means that I can focus all my attention on my work.

And for that I am still reliant on…


My discovery of this software has done wonders for my organisation. I found it great to write the first draft in, following my carefully planned structure and using the daily targets to keep me motivated, and now I’m deep into the edit it’s really coming into its own. I love how I can flit back and forth, move things around or cut them out completely safe in the knowledge that I can still get them back if I need them. I can keep an eye on my word count, and refer back to all the bank of research that I built up whilst I was writing the first draft. And all in one window.

Though when I’m tired of looking at that one, I can instantly refresh my soul by looking out of another at…

The view

I always dreamt of one day living by the sea, and more specifically having a place where I could write looking out over it. When that dream became a reality I was worried at first that the view might be a bit too beautiful and would distract me from getting anything done. As it happens though, that’s not a problem. I think my big computer screen helps – I have to consciously shift my gaze to get away from my manuscript. But there are times when I’m getting so frazzled that I really need something to give me a break from it all, and looking out at the big open sky and the ever-changing landscape of the sea is just the ticket.


And that’s about it! Those five things have done a sterling job of keeping me on the straight and narrow so far, and I’m hoping I can continue to rely on them over the next few weeks as I bring this edit to a close.

How about you? What are the things that help you keep your focus when you’re writing (or editing)? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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This much I know


Today I did something I’ve dreamt of often but never actually managed to achieve before: I sat in a coffee shop and worked on my novel.

We were on our way back from Arthur’s drama class, and after dipping into a couple of charity shops in the ongoing hunt for bits and pieces for Christmas crafting I thought we were just going to head home. But then Arthur fell asleep. And all the thoughts about character and plot that have been swirling around over the past couple of weeks rose up in my mind, determined to be heard. And I thought really, given that we were just outside one of my favourite spots for coffee in Brixham which is due to close forever in its current incarnation at the end of this week, it’d be rude not to stop and listen.

Over the course of two steaming hot lattes I scribbled furiously in my notebook whilst Arthur dozed in the sling, blissfully unaware. And after a couple of weeks where I’ve done lots of reading and thinking but not very much writing I was thrilled to discover that there’s actually rather a lot I know about my novel.

I don’t want to give too much away yet, but the two main characters are definitely beginning to take shape. And the peripheral ones are padding out too. And the locations are becoming clearer. And the plot is beginning to make sense. There’s still a way to go, but I definitely know more than I thought.

What I’m not sure about yet is how it’s all going to be structured. I guess in a way that’s a decision that can wait, but there are some choices I will need to make before I start writing. Like whose voice we’re going to hear. I know the narrative needs to be split between the present and the past, but I’m not sure whether we want to see things from just one character’s perspective or whether another point of view will help to tell the story. I also know that time will not be linear in this novel. But the arc the narrative will follow is not yet clear.

I’m going to continue to read and think – and write too – as I continue to work all this out. The little bits of character exploration I’ve done so far – like this scene from the past and this letter from closer to the present – have been enormously helpful. I possibly need to start mapping things out a bit too, to begin to get a stronger sense of the bigger picture.

Because however much I know so far, there are certainly still an awful lot of pages in that notebook waiting to be filled…



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