I am very fortunate in that from July 2014, I have been able to write full-time. Before that I had the excuse of having to get my proper work out of the way before I could immerse myself in my new novel. Now, of course, I have to find new ways to procrastinate – actually that’s not too hard!
My plan is to write two and a bit books a year. So far the ‘bit’ has been editing previously written books, or researching for a new one.
The last few books I have written have been serialized: published digitally first in four parts and then as a complete novel some months later. The first of these was Ivy Lane. I wasn’t entirely sure how to go about producing a series, but I wrote a synopsis and had a rough idea of how each part would work out and then set off writing it.
Over the last two years, I have honed this process a bit more. I know from experience how to fit enough in to what is effectively a quarter of a novel to hopefully keep the reader interested in the whole series and I develop mini story arcs for each part.
I am a very rigid planner. I write detailed synopses and then a bullet point list of the thrust of each chapter. I do as much of my research before I start as possible, particularly the locations. But I am very lax about sticking to the plan. I always remember the email I got from my editor, Harriet Bourton after she’d received the manuscript for The Plumberry School of Comfort Food: Gosh it’s very different from the synopsis, isn’t it?
There is that old adage about breaking a large goal into several smaller milestones to make it more attainable and that is how I view my writing. I write part one, shout hurray, have a breather, go back to the plan for the next part to see if it needs adjusting and off I go again.
I regularly get stuck. Not writer’s block exactly, but more unsure about the specific detail. For example, yesterday I was writing about a character going to see someone to apologize for her behaviour and I couldn’t decide whether the injured party should be in or not! Luckily my grandmother phoned from her hospital bed and by the time I’d talked through all the possible scenarios to see what would make more sense in the long run, I’d got my answer!
I don’t have a specific daily word goal, although I do try and write a complete scene before stopping for the day. My daughters are 14 and 16 and so can go for long spells without needing me and are also very good at interpreting my blank stares when I’m in the middle of something. Even the dog knows when to leave me alone!