My Writing Day by Sally Green
Oh dear, I can’t even get past the title of this piece without feeling a bit panicky, because my writing day is hardly ever the same and thus is hard to describe. Perhaps I can try to give a flavour of the different types of writing days that I’ve had over the last few years, since I began writing in 2010.
1. Birth of a writer (June 2010 to December 2010)
The days of innocence. I began writing one afternoon with the idea (I thought) for a short story, but by the end of the week I realised I was writing a novel and that I didn’t want to (and couldn’t) stop. I wrote mainly in the evening (as I still prefer to do) until 2a.m. if it was going well. When I wasn’t writing my novel I was thinking about my novel - it really did take over my life 24/7. It may have looked like I was driving/ironing/cooking/gardening/running-on-the-treadmill but really I was working on the next scene. I would work all out in my head before writing it down. I wrote a lot by hand in those days too.
2. Student writer (January 2011 to February 2013)
Ah yes, I have fond memories of these days. I was a student of Creative Writing with the Open University, trying to improve my writing, finish my novel and get an agent. So I was writing short stories, poems and even scripts for my OU course, writing/editing my novel, reading as many books as possible, ironing, shopping, doing the school run, making dinner. There were lots of burnt meals I seem to remember as I was writing whilst cooking and forgetting about the sausages in the frying pan bit.
For most of this time I did have a routine of getting up half an hour earlier than normal to keep a writing diary (as the OU suggested we students do), but as I was staying up much later than normal to write my novel in the quiet midnight hours I was a wreck (and living on burnt sausages).
3. Writer - Post-publishing deal/pre publication (March 2013 - January 2014)
This seemed hard at the time but actually it was a doddle. I got an agent in February 2013 and a publishing deal in March 2013. For most of the period I was working on the edits of HALF BAD. This was not too painful (no red marks slashing across the page - but more ‘I really like this but’, which actually is the polite equivalent of red marks across the page). I would sit in a room at home, in the sun and work out the changes I needed to make. My husband had taken over a large part of the cooking - he never burns the sausages. In September 2013 I started writing HALF WILD, the second book of the trilogy and was dismayed that there was still some editing to do on HALF BAD. It seemed quite difficult to juggle the two (now I laugh at trying to juggle just two different aspects of writing). Generally I did either one or the other on a given day.
By November HALF WILD had taken over my life. I set myself goals of 1,000 words a day. I didn’t mind if these weren’t perfect words, I just wanted to get the story down. I was relaxed after I was over 10,000 words but didn’t want to let up on the pace of writing. I was word count fixated. I finished the first draft (80,000 words) in December and took a break for Christmas, before starting to edit in January.
4. Published Author - (January, 2014 to today)
My desk is in utter chaos
HALF BAD was published in the UK on 3rd March, but this period really started at the end of January when the PR began. I had a few weeks away from editing HALF WILD for a 8 night tour of the USA and 4 night tour of the UK and then a lot of PR in the week of the launch of HALF BAD. I thought I might write as I travelled but was usually too tired and really just not in that zone. I was worried that it was too long a time away from HALF WILD but I think it might have helped to step away and see it all a little clearer.
Now, I grab time where I can to write whatever I need to (this piece, numerous Q&As, writing tips, blog posts etc.) and I edit HALF WILD in equally short or longer bursts as the mood takes me.
I’ve got my deadline for HALF WILD looming, so I’m trying to establish a routine of writing/editing in the evening, usually until about 1am, when it’s quiet. I try edit in my head as I do other things too - so, for example, at the moment I’m not happy with the plot at the end of the book and I’m working out various possible solutions usually as I drive somewhere.
Half Bad by Sally Green is published by Penguin £7.99 www.halfbadworld.com
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