Life Cycle of a Writer: Seeing The Light


*Blink* *Blink*


I’ve emerged from my writer’s cave. It’s sunny, bright, and I’ve discovered spring has sprung, my children have each grown an inch, and so has my waist.

My third novel, currently titled, What Doesn’t Kill You, has left the building. I’ve spent quite some time with it, holed up in my cave, ensuring I delivered it to my publishers on time. I was in plaster when I started writing the book, having undergone ulna head replacement surgery December 2013, and was a tad impeded to start with, spending months in casts and splints. I had planned to complete the book in nine months, but it’s taken a year. That’s a record for me. My first novel, Truth or Dare? took a steady six years, (something like nine drafts from start to publication), and Follow Me Follow You took eighteen months. During those times, my children were younger and less independent, and I was my mum’s carer, so, like many writers, I wrote as and when I could, often sacrificing sleep.

I am beginning to wonder if there is vampire blood running through my veins.

IMG_5250What Doesn’t Kill You is the first book I’ve planned from the onset. I have a problem with timelines and find I always have to go back and rewrite because I’ve made a mess of the timing of the story. Often, the whole thing happens in a week, or less. I believe I’ve cracked it this time, but I guess the proof is in the pudding. I used different techniques and methods from those employed for the first two books. I put large sheets of static white paper on the wall and divided it into three, using the three act structure as the basis for planning; I wrote a brief description of each chapter, which I now call scenes, in a notebook, because I knew where the story was going, and at the very end, when I knew what needed to happen, but couldn’t fix the order in my head, I suddenly understood the sticky note method. My version is a little different in that I wrote down the pertinent points on a piece of paper, then cut them into strips and played around with the order until they worked, but I’m going to try the sticky notes method for book four.

I feel as if all the wonderful advice I’ve been given and the techniques I’ve been shown have come together on this book and I’m keen to put them into practice from the start of book 4. I think it’s fair to say I’ve seen the light in more ways than one.Planning Close Up

Perhaps I can write the new book in nine months.

While I mull over the ideas and characters for the next book, I’m going to take plenty of exercise, enjoy oodles of much-needed family time, and catch up with a few books worth of reading. I promised myself the reward of reading Celia’s Little Boxes and Rowan Coleman’s The Memory Book.

I’ll be in the library, on the rowing machine, with the children and Gajitman if you need me …

Laura x 


10 thoughts on “Life Cycle of a Writer: Seeing The Light

  1. Your post is so fortuitous, I’ve committed to writing a whole novel in a month (!) yes I’m mad. And with a day job too. I decided that if I was to achieve it, I had to turn into a planner, rather than my usual pantser method. Like you my first novel evolved over several years, the second took a year, the third I wrote most of in NanoRiMo but had plenty of time to play … this one I’ve plotted every last scene on a complicated spreadsheet, with character arcs, conflict and tension. It means that every time I sit down at the computer I know exactly what I need to write, what the scene needs to do … sounds fantastic in theory … who knows what the practice will bring. Good luck with the next one, you are a constant inspiration x

    • A month, Jules??!! Well done for having the courage and all at Romaniac HQ will be cheering you on. We’d love to hear about it once you’ve finished. I find I’m using a hybrid of methods taught by Julie Cohen and Sue Moorcroft, with a fair splash of Fiona Harper in the mix, too. Knowing what each scene required was a revelation to me, and I’m wondering why I didn’t do it before, but we’re constantly learning and revising our methods. Wishing you well with your novel-in-a-month, and we’d love it if you were to come back and tell us how you found it, and what worked for you. Thanks for you kind words 🙂 Laura x

    • Thanks, Elle. I spent yesterday WIPless and I’m not sure I liked it … I felt as if a part of me was missing. My mind is already churning over a few ideas. I have one that keeps nudging me. Hope your writing is going well. Laura xx

  2. Impressive! Congratulations on finishing What Doesn’t Kill You.
    I try to plot, I really do. I find I use slightly different methods for each book. I wrote a timeline for the last one (mainly because it was so embarassing trying to clear us the mess I made with my timeline with Dr January.

    Jules, a MONTH? *faints*

    • I think that’s where I’ve saved time, Rhoda – keeping a timeline and making the chapter notes. Laura 🙂

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