Project January

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This is the titular chapter from my latest book, Project January: A Sequel About Writing.

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If you’ve read my book Project December: A Book About Writing or the various Project… blog posts on this blog, then you’ll know Project October is about intensive writing, Project November is about editing and revision, and Project December is about getting your book published. And, of course, I hope it makes sense that Project January is about starting all over again.

The pride and relief at finishing and finally publishing a book is wonderful. But the realisation that all that hard work, all the blood, sweat and tears that it took, all the back and forth, all of the begging for beta readers, all the doubt and belief and doubt again, the realisation that all of it simply rewinds to deposit you back at the beginning again can be hard.

Some people only want to write one book, only have one book in them. If that’s you and you’re okay with it, great. For the rest us who don’t want to be one-book wonders, we’re confronted with an entirely different set of problems from when we began writing our first books. So here are a few things to consider to help get you back on track to another Project October, Project November and Project December. Continue reading

How Long Should a Novel Take to Write?

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It’s another chapter in the “How long should…” series of blog posts. I saw this question on a writing forum and immediately thought, “Should, could, would…” It’s the kind of question that someone who has never written a novel tends to ask and makes me think they want to get in and get out as quickly as possible. Boy, are they going to be shocked when they realise that’s almost impossible.

In almost every one of the “How long should…” series, I bring up the piece of string and then go into guidelines that might help somehow. But that’s unlikely when we’re talking about how long it should take to write a novel. Because it’s not like roasting a chicken or completing a school year or watching a movie, all of which will come to an end within a reasonably predictable time frame.

But here are a few things to consider about the sort of commitment it takes. Continue reading

What I Learned from Keeping a Writing Journal

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After I wrote a blog post on the value of keeping a writing journal, I decided to keep one while I undertook a month of intensive novel writing. In addition to the 30,000 plus words I wrote for my novel, I also wrote 10,000 plus words for the writing journal. Although I posted the journal in its entirety on my blog during October (and although I think it’s a pretty interesting read, especially considering what happened to me in the final days of the month I was keeping it), I thought I would take pity on those readers who don’t have the time to read it all and distil a few things I learned along the way. Continue reading

Project October Writing Journal – Part 13

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Day 28

Today something unusual happened. I had no family commitments or job interviews, a day to myself, and I was planning to do housework and writing. I’d just started the dishwasher when my phone began ringing. I thought – hoped – that it might be about one of the jobs I’d interviewed for. But I didn’t recognise the number. Then I thought it might be about another job I’d applied for; I’ve applied for a lot. So I answered.

It wasn’t about any of those things. Even though this Project October has felt more about my efforts at jobseeking than about my efforts at writing, it wasn’t anything to do with potential jobs. It was a woman named Ally, who told me she worked at Text Publishing. She was calling to let me know that Black Spot, which I’d entered in the 2016 Text Prize – a competition for unpublished young adult manuscripts – had been shortlisted. And to invite me to the announcement of the winner in just under two weeks’ time. Continue reading

Project October Writing Journal – Part 12

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Day 26

I didn’t write today and after not writing yesterday that really has put me behind schedule with the word count. I slept late (exhaustion still not dealt with), washed my hair, dried my hair, fell asleep again (when I am tired, I am really tired), then woke up to have some dinner and go to a branch meeting of the political party I am a member of. Sometimes, it just isn’t going to happen no matter how good your intentions are.

Today’s Word Count: 0

Ongoing Tally: 23,826

 

Day 27

I’m back on track today. I had another job interview this morning, but for a different job, and I’m back home now. It’s only early afternoon so I have plenty of writing time. I’ve upped my daily target for the last four days of Project October to 1,500 words per day, which should mean I get to 30,000 words by the time it’s over. And what’s an extra 500 words a day? Nothing. If I look back at some days during this month, I’ve been doing that and more anyway. Continue reading

Project October Writing Journal – Part 11

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Day 24

Agony today. High heels yesterday partly responsible. Dancing at the wedding partly responsible. Nursing eight-month old twin nieces partly responsible. Taking public transport to the wedding and home again also partly responsible. I didn’t even wake up until half past one in the afternoon, which I suppose is the sign of a good wedding, right? It’s also a sign of the complete exhaustion that seems to befall me after every social event I attend. I am starting to feel older than my age. Not just the aches and pains. Every time I interact with young people, people in their teens and early twenties, they just make me shake my head in frustration and ask, “Was I ever that stupid and self-involved?” I don’t think I was but isn’t that what all older people think?

Today was another day of reinterpreting an already written conversation and considering how terrible I was feeling, it was excellent timing. I doubt I would have written anywhere near 1,500 words if I’d had to write it all from scratch. Continue reading

Project October Writing Journal – Part 10

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Day 21

I’m just back from my job interview in the city. I was less nervous this time (not nervous at all, in fact) and I hope that was evident because the interviewer mentioned it to the recruiter last time like it might be some sort of deal breaker for this job. Who isn’t nervous in a job interview? Show me that person and I’ll show you a one in a billion personality type.

I put on the outfit I was planning to wear and it just wasn’t working. I realised that I haven’t worn dress pants to work for nearly three years because I’ve been writing at home and my previous short-term job was over the spring and summer months. My entire collection of work pants is horribly out of date and it shows. Anyway, after a quick change, I think I looked okay but it’s seriously time for a shopping spree. Continue reading