Getting Book-Fit

Choc LitI’m getting book-fit. You know? Like soccer players get match-fit.

From a sitting position, I threw myself in to writing book 1, Truth or Dare?. If it had been a sprint, I’d have pulled muscles I haven’t used in years. It wasn’t a sprint. I started ToD in the summer of 2007, when my left arm was in plaster, and I found employment for my right arm.

From start to publication, it took 6 years. I’m not able to say how long it took in real terms, if I deducted the time I spent looking after my family, sometimes cooking, and occasionally cleaning, but I think I needed that time to develop the craft, find my voice and understand what it was I was writing.

Book 2, Follow Me, started life as part of the 100K in a 100 Days challenge, run by Sally Quilford. It started on January 1st, 2012, and finished on April 9th. 1000 words a day. It was an achievable target for me, and an excellent way to kick-start the ‘difficult second novel’. By March, I’d hit 60,000. I tried to switch off my inner editor, and just type, but I’ve come to realise this doesn’t work for me. When I know there’s an issue, I have to resolve it before I can move on. I wonder how many years I’d have fought this, had I not participated in Sally’s initiative. I’m so pleased I did.

As is well-documented, I lost my mother in March 2012, and writing came to a standstill. I didn’t complete the challenge, but I did submit the FM partial to the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme, and received an encouraging report. It was then I knew I was going to finish writing book 2, despite its sad associations with events of that year. A line needed to be drawn, and what I felt was a good story, needed to be told in its entirety.

I submitted the completed manuscript for consideration to my publisher, Choc Lit, in September, having received a lovely, and timely report from the 2013 NWS. IMG_4487

So, I started Follow Me in January 2012, and completed it in September 2013. That’s quite a bit less than 6 years.

Book 3, working title, What Doesn’t Kill You, is going to take nine months.

There. I’ve said it. Now I have to make it happen.

I’m planning this one. I’m writing a timeline, keeping a calendar, in the style of Sue Fortin – see here – and I’m creating a chart of my characters, their conflicts, obstacles, and characteristics. I’m putting to use everything I’ve learned over the last few years: everything I’ve been taught by wonderful tutors.

And I’m getting myself book-fit, before starting that marathon.

Ready …?IMG_4659

Laura x

29 thoughts on “Getting Book-Fit

  1. I work like you – can’t write if there is an issue…you have done so well, Laura!!! I am thrilled with your success!! And you have snow on your post!! I am also envious!!! XX

    • Thank you, Sophie. I’ve never been called awesome before 🙂 I’m off to tell the children … 😉 Laura xx

  2. This post is a good illustration of how your working methods change once you get a publisher. You feel justified in giving more time to your writing, perhaps? More purposeful? Good luck with the third book, Laura. x

    • I definitely have a sense of purpose, Sue, and more confidence, thanks to all the advice and guidance I’ve received over the last few years. What surprised me was how many different ways there are to plan. This summer, I found the one that I think will work for me 🙂 Laura xx

    • Thanks, Janet. I’ve been worrying that two months have passed and I’ve yet to write ‘Chapter One’, but book three has been developing in my head, and it’s now time to commit to paper 🙂 Laura xx

  3. I’ve certainly learned a lot over the books I’ve written. And, like you, discipline is one of them! Great post, Laura. Thanks!

    • Thanks, Liz. I’m hoping the new planning strategy will increase my output 🙂 Laura xx

  4. I dream up my characters. Then I make notes about the story line. I make a plan, I usually end up changing my mind about everything. But somehow the next book gets written! Hey, why’s it snowing on this site, are you working outdoors, Romaniacs?

    • Hi Margaret. It’s been interesting this time round, examining how I approach writing a novel. I started with the hero this time, before deciding on my issue. Come to think of it, that happened with Follow Me. I’m developing a pattern 🙂 Yes. We have built a Romaniac igloo, and are considering creating our own ice hotel. Can you imagine? Drinks would always be on ice. Laura xx

  5. I think you’ve got to work how you work. I’m the opposite to you Laura. I tried to do novel 2 in a more orderly fashion, editing and tidying up as I went along, and I ended up with a worse mess than I ever had for number 1! I have to do the dirty first draft – that’s effectively my planning phase – in place of doing calendars and character charts etc, and then I do a heavy edit/rewrite before it’s ready to submit. Am in same boat as you though in that this one has to be done so much faster than the first. Eeeek!

    • I agree, Alison. It’s a case of finding what works for you. For me, it’s been by trial and error. Mostly error 🙂 Laura xx

  6. Really interesting to see how we’re all different. I admire your diligent planning this time round, Laura. I try, but then seem to head off in a tangent and start writing the book instead. Then I have an enforced break (usually work, getting in the way!) and wish I’d been more organised because it takes ages to get back into my thought processes. So perhaps my New Year resolution should be to get book fit 🙂

    • Thanks. Kathryn. I am so keen to actually start writing, but I want to see if planning will save time at the other end, when it comes to edits. Only time will tell. 🙂 Laura xx

  7. Totally understand you not being able to go on Laura. The book I started as a result of an April workshop (and which I haven’t picked up for a while!) stands at just over 2k words … I had to go back and make changes before I moved on. I was told just to write and then edit but I just couldn’t! I think this book is going to take years hahaha

    Enjoyed reading your post. Look forward to hearing how you get on.

    • Thank you, Shaz. I tried so hard to switch off the inner editor, but it’s not in my nature to leave things. I’m a born worrier, and unless I sort out the problem there and then, I’ll continue to worry, and it’s unproductive. I do make notes as things occur to me – my notes pages on my iPhone are full of ideas, plot points, character flaws, twists, so maybe that’s my first dirty draft. Good luck with your writing 🙂 Laura xx

  8. That ‘inner editor’ is a pain in the proverbial, because not only do I have to edit as I write, I also edit as I read, and that’s even worse. My criteria for a good book these days, is one I can read without giving a thought to over-use of adverbs, repetition, etc etc.

    BAIS took around six years too – wasn’t helped by the fact it was originally 240k words long and had to be virtually chopped in half.

    I really enjoyed ToD, and look forward to reading Follow Me and What Doesn’t Kill You.

    Great blog, Laura xx

  9. What an interesting post Laura, I like the phrase ‘book fit’. I’m like you, I can’t move on to the next chapter until I’ve edited and even polished the previous one. That doesn’t mean that later I don’t go on and do some more tweaks though. But writing like that does seem to take longer to finish the initial draft. Still, we’re all different and we all seem to get there in the end thank goodness!

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