On Sunday evening I finished the process of assessing how important each chapter was to the first draft’s overall story (as described in a previous post). From the 85,000 words of the 2012 draft of Stolen Lives, I have managed to salvage about 40,000, although many of these sections will require extensive rewrites and some are likely to fall by the wayside as I rearrange the new draft. This means I have a lot of work to do before the July deadline. Because of this, I will be concentrating on getting some new content written this week.
When writing new content, I try to write 2,000 words a day. I will probably keep doing this each day over the next couple of weeks until I have 15-20,000 new words completed. At this juncture, I don’t worry too much about writing chronologically. In a typical day, I might write 200 words to be included at the beginning, three 400 word sections to go in the middle and a load of stuff I have no idea where to put. I find concentrating on word-count at the beginning of a writing project is the best way to avoid the white-page syndrome. It takes me roughly 300 days (10 months) to complete a novel, and when you are moving something forward by increments of 1/300th at a time, it is very easy to feel you aren’t actually achieving anything at all. Watching that word count creep up every day is a good way of avoiding such misgivings.
On a good day I can get my 2,000 words done in three or four hours. On a bad day, I will still be on only 1,400 words come evening, one-finger typing stuff I know I’ll probably delete. I used to be maniacal about getting the 2,000 words done every day, and on days when I failed to hit the mark, would carry the missing amount over to the next. However, experience has taught me that some days I just have to accept it ain’t going to work and to not beat myself up about it. Tomorrow is always another day.
I like to start writing as soon as I wake up, which is usually around 05:00. My morning routine is always the same. First, I make a cup of Earl Grey; then I begin writing on a laptop while sat in bed. I am a terribly lazy person and by working in bed I can convince myself that I’m “not really working” and therefore resist the temptation to break open one of my Star Trek boxed sets or log onto World of Warcraft. I stay in bed until my flat warms up. Then I hop over to my main computer.
I like to listen to music while I write – writing seems a very lonely profession without it. I tend to favour music that fits the mood/atmosphere of what I am writing. Movie soundtracks are a favourite as they convey emotions and events aurally. God knows how many times I listened to the Alien and Aliens soundtracks during the writing of my second and third novels – four or five times a day at least.
During my writing this week, I will be researching various topics. I’ll do a post on how I organise my research process later in the week (note to self: aimlessly flicking through Wikipedia pages does not constitute “research”). These are the topics I will be researching:
- the effects of decomposition on bodies in a mild, dry climate
- the legacy of the Spanish Civil War and the way it has helped shape modern Spain
- left-wing politics in Spain, particularly the P.C.E., the Spanish communists
- right-wing politics in Spain
- the beatification of right-wing martyrs by the Vatican
I will also be revisiting the articles I wrote on the civil war while working as a journalist in Spain. I’ll do another post at the end of the week and let you know how I get on.