Week 3

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Hello and welcome to my creative writing blog. As always, I’ll start with this week’s statistics and then a little chat.

The weekly statistics*

Work on the first draft of my novel:

Total words for the week:  5,428
Total words in draft to date:  56,505
Number of days worked on novel this week: 7
Minimum words per day this week: 528
Maximum words per day this week:  1,123

Other writing completed:

Blog posts for Pam Alison Knits:  3

Related activities:

None, again

The chat

I’m very pleased with how the work on my novel has gone this past seven days, and I find I am gaining impetus from my weekly reports here which I use to hold myself accountable for turning up and writing each day.

I hadn’t been too happy with the passage I wrote last Saturday night and so I revisited it on Sunday, believing that I would have to toss the whole piece. It was a relief to find that it only needed a few tweaks to improve it to my liking; there is something in me that hates to throw words away, even if I am not pleased with them. This meant that the words I actually added to the draft that day were my lowest for the week, but I consoled myself by remembering that binning the passage would have put me in negative figures. I hit my highest daily word count of the week on Thursday, when I amused myself by getting to the point where I was ready to call it a day only to find I was sitting on 999 words for the session – well, I couldn’t leave it there, could I? After adding a little extra, I checked again and now I saw the draft word count was sitting tantalisingly close to 55,000 so, once again, I carried on writing just to get it over that milestone.

I love working on the novel; I love the story I am telling. In fact, I wonder if it is even possible to write a story that you don’t enjoy telling and, if it is, then I feel sorry for the writers who find themselves doing that. However, I am beginning to feel that I need more, need to broaden my horizons a little. Having taken a couple of weeks off any writing-related activities apart from the novel, I’m ready to leap back in and, as a minimum, get some reading on the subject going again. I still fully intend to re-read “A Writer’s Book of Days” by Judy Reeves, this time doing the exercises as I go, but I think that first I will read “The Sound of Paper” by Julia Cameron. This, together with Judy Reeves’ book, is the one I’ve owned the longest without actually reading. Like “A Writer’s Book of Days”, I have dipped in and out of “The Sound of Paper”, but never managed to get all the way through it. The two are similar on other levels, too – both writers err a little on the side of hippiness and the advice in the books is inspirational rather than technical, which may be why I lose patience with them through certain sections.

Julie Cameron is most famous in the writing world for her book “The Artist’s Way” and her concept of Morning Pages which I have never felt gripped by. Her suggestion is to start each day, before you do anything else, by completing three pages by hand of basic, stream-of-consciousness writing. I suspect secretly that this would be a good thing for me to do, perhaps it would free me from the inhibitions I hide inside, but the occasions when I have experimented with it have not been successful. It feels alien to me; it feels like I am doing something that someone else thinks is what I should be doing; it makes me feel that my thoughts are too neat, and too well-punctuated to fit with the creativity the exercise is designed to unleash. Perhaps the most difficult thing, though, is that I allow myself to get all caught up in the technicalities of it, not least of which is the three pages rule. First, she doesn’t specify what size the paper should be and, second, this doesn’t allow for differences in handwriting size. It would probably take me an entire day to fill three pages of A4 paper and I’m pretty sure the expectation is that it would only take 15 minutes of so. I think the problem is that this is meant to be fast, scrawled handwriting, flamboyantly filling pages and tossing them aside as the thoughts tumble through your mind and, friends, that’s not me: every thought that enters my mind has to be analysed, categorised, and cross-referenced before it’s allowed to even call itself a thought.

Anyway, regardless of my feelings about some of the fundamentals, I am hereby setting myself the goal of reading through the whole of “The Sound of Paper” by the end of August. There, that’s decided, and now I can go on with my day, bidding you a fond farewell and hoping that your writing – or other creative enterprises – find you ready and willing to work this coming week.


*Explanatory Notes

  • For the purpose of the statistics, my weeks run from Sunday morning to Saturday night, and that’s why these blog posts will appear each Sunday.
  • I use Scrivener by Literature and Latte for my creative writing and take my statistics from there.
  • The working title of my novel is The Pen Emporium, it’s a fictional romance set in a small English town in contemporary times but referencing a trip to New York in the early 1970s.

Links:

A Writer’s Book of Days” by Judy Reeves

The Sound of Paper” and “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron

3 thoughts on “Week 3

  1. I was wondering, do you write for your novel onto a computer or with pen and paper? And what about your blog posts?
    Personally all my blog posts are typed direct and not handwritten, which is a bit ironic since they are all about fountain pens and related topics.
    But I do like to plan my posts by hand, mostly with balloon diagrams which are great for getting ideas on the page quickly and being able to add to them under their various headings.
    I tend to use stream of consciousness writing for trying out pens but literally catch myself falling asleep and still writing rubbish in my unconscious state.

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    1. Hi, what an interesting question and gives me a good steer for some information it will be helpful to write about in future posts. In short though, I type my novel directly on my MacBook using Scrivener writing software. I trained as a touch-typist in the late 1970s so I’m pretty speedy on a keyboard. I actually type my blog posts direct into WordPress, again on the laptop. I keep thinking that it would be better to draft them elsewhere and then import them to WordPress, but somehow the WordPress software just seems to work for me. My lovely fountain pens and paper are used for day planning, random notes, creative writing when I’m out and about (if that ever happens again) and for the journal I write every morning. Funnily enough, though, when I’m going through a patch of doing ‘writing practice’ – short pieces based on prompts – I write them longhand. There’s nothing like being inconsistent.

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