Project October Writing Journal – Part 1


In July, I wrote a blog post pondering the value of writing journals and then posted in nine parts an old writing journal I wrote as part of my master’s degree. My assessment, in my case anyway, was that there wasn’t much value in them except as a historical curiosity – where I was and how I was feeling, that sort of thing. Which is what most journals and diaries are.

But I know by now that I don’t know everything so as I embarked on another Project October, I decided I would keep a writing journal as I went along to see if it would change my mind. I’m not sure that it did but Project October and keeping that writing journal just happened to coincide with… well, you’ll have to read it over the next month to find out.

And even if it doesn’t have much value to me, maybe there will be something to enlighten or entertain you.

Day -1

No, I haven’t made a typo, it does say, “Minus one.” My Project October month is actually supposed to start tomorrow but I just know it’s not going to be as successful as I would like. So I’m starting early. One extra day isn’t going to make that much of a difference but when you’re working towards a target of 30,000 words in one month, every day helps.

So why am I being Deputy Downer before I’ve even started? I suppose because I spent all day yesterday meeting with recruiters, then most of today revising my CV and doing a writing task for a potential employer, and I have to call the recruiter tomorrow morning to listen to his feedback on my revised CV and writing task. Fun. Yes, I’m looking for full-time work again and I can already tell that going back to work is going to interfere horribly with the amount of writing I’m able to do. I’m resenting a job I don’t even have yet. That bodes well.

Anyway, I’m in the middle of writing two different novels, but I’ve decided to work on Trine. I started writing it in 2012 and I am desperate to finish a first draft because it’s the only piece of my works-in-progress that seems to get constantly interrupted. Everything else comes to a lovely writing conclusion but Trine is always being put on the backburner when I have to do some other writing task.

30,000 words won’t get me to the end. It’s a longer book than I would normally write (100,000 words for Enemies Closer, 80,000 words for Black Spot and Project December) so at 120,000 words, it’s a larger task than I’ve ever taken on before. But I’m starting this Project October at the 55,682 word mark, so another 30,000 words could get me to roughly 75% finished.

I’m aiming for between 500 and 1,000 words per day over the course of the month. Sometimes having a range feels like an escape clause for working harder but I know there are going to be days when I might not even get to write because there are a lot of family events going on this month including one tomorrow and another the next day. But if I can dash off 500 words before I have to dash off to birthdays and weddings, it will feel like I’ve achieved something instead of nothing.

Enough of the waffle and on with the writing. I’ll be posting every day to let you know how I’m going but also to experiment with a writing journal, which I’ve previously said I didn’t think was of much use. I guess I’m about to find about.

Today’s Word Count: 1,074

Ongoing Tally: 1,074


Day 1

This is a little hard to believe but I’ve realised that before yesterday the last time I worked on Trine was nine months ago. That’s two Project Octobers ago. The last Project October I did, I worked on White Wash (the Black Spot sequel) because I had some interest from a publisher and suddenly went into a tizzy worrying that I wasn’t far enough along with the sequel if they ended up wanting to publish (even though they didn’t in the end).

Reading back the blog posts from last year where I explained what Project October was and outlined my progress in weekly updates, I remember now that I got into awful trouble with the chapter I find myself in the middle of. Upon discovering a murder, the policeman character spent a day cataloguing the scene and reading it back was such hard work that I scrapped it all. I started again by making it the end of a 36-hour working day with the policeman in bed trying to sleep and being unable to despite his exhaustion as he relived the awful details over and over again. It reads much better but it is essentially all in the past. Does that mean it lacks the surprise of events that are revealed as and when they are happening?

Aaagghhh! I think the best idea is simply to push through, get words – any words – down on paper and then move on to the next chapter. It’s only a first draft. I know when I started writing Trine that I decided I wasn’t going to rush the writing, I was going to do it in a leisurely fashion and edit as I went, not moving on until I was happy with each chapter. Sometimes if I move on when I’m not happy with a chapter, I head off in completely the wrong direction. But if I’m not going anywhere, then what’s the point of doing Project October?

I’ll have to worry about it tomorrow. I’m off to spend the evening with my grandfather – dinner and watching the footy on TV. Maybe the break will help. I always say that when the writing isn’t working, it’s usually a sign that I need to go do something else anyway.

P.S. OMG, a one point thriller win that looked like a loss until four seconds to go at the end of the game. Amazing! Horrible! Best game and worst game ever all in one! I’m never going to sleep so I’m writing instead.

Today’s Word Count: 766

Ongoing Tally: 1,840


Day 2

Today would have been my grandmother’s ninetieth birthday if she had lived to see it but she passed away nearly two months ago now. The family all headed to my grandfather’s house anyway to mark the occasion. I went early and then stayed for dinner so my grandfather wasn’t alone. He kicked me out at half past eight when he wanted to go to bed and I started home thinking I’d have plenty of time for writing this evening. I wasn’t even half way there when I got the fright of my life. I hit a possum that was scampering across the road. I had enough time to see it and register that it was a possum and I tried to swerve but I couldn’t avoid it. There was a thump and a puff of fur went up in the air.

I’ve never hit anything before so I went into a little bit of shock. I missed the turn off that would have taken me to the freeway and had gone a long way past it before I calmed down. By that time, I was nearly at my father’s house so I thought I would stop in. When my stepmother opened the door, she immediately said, “What’s wrong?” and I burst into tears. I apologised for being silly but I was so upset at hitting (and most likely killing) that possum. “I just want to sit all the possums down and explain to them how dangerous cars are,” I said ridiculously.

When I finally left my dad’s house, it was nearly midnight and the window for any writing today had gone. I’ve got two days to myself now so hopefully I can make up for it with a couple of big tallies tomorrow and the next day.

Today’s Word Count: 0

Ongoing Tally: 1,840


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