So here I am, halfway through the year, and my word count is standing at 106,380. Yes indeed, I have written one hundred and six thousand, three hundred and eighty words this year. It took dogged determination to start with but now – usually – it’s perfectly straightforward. I tend to write first thing in the morning, as soon as I’ve had my breakfast and got dressed if I can, especially if I have somewhere to go. Weekends can be tricky; the routine is all to pot and getting up always takes so much longer. Also it’s much easier to accomplish if I am either alone in the house, or if everyone else is fully occupied. It’s most difficult if we have guests or if I’m not at home. But I have managed every single day so far, even on Brexit day, though I felt rather as though someone close to me had died.
So what have I achieved?
I’ve more-or-less finished the first draft of a book I started last year, which is currently put to one side waiting for me to be ready to grapple with it. It’s too long, possibly because as I was writing I was aware that it wasn’t quite right but I just kept firing off another 500 words and another in the hope that it would suddenly become right. It’s a sort-of romance to go with my other two self-published sort-of romances, but finishing it is going to have to wait.
I have two thirds of a brand new book which I planned very thoroughly earlier this year. I’m expecting to have a complete 60-odd thousand word first draft of this by the end of August.
I’ve also written a ton of blog posts and reviews.
The next big thing for me to tackle is a big edit/rewrite/new draft of Reivers, the dystopian novel I’ve been working on for three years or so now. Someone (!) wants to read it, but having taken a good amount of time to consider feedback from various sources, I have some ideas to strengthen it, so I’ve promised this someone the new, improved version by the end of the summer. I’ve already done a little work on it, writing a new element, but now I need to totally unpick the whole thing, analyse what’s good and less good in it, and then sew it back together. I’ve given myself the six weeks of the school summer holidays. I have a spreadsheet to keep me right.
What can possibly go wrong?
Well, it didn’t help that yesterday I was feeling a bit lazy, so decided not to get started right away first thing in the morning. Then, when I was just about ready to go, unexpected visitors showed up, the kind of visitors you need to invite to stay the night, so obviously getting to grips with a major rewrite went totally out of the window. (I did, however, manage to sneak off and write my 500 words and finish an editing job.)
So now, I’m ready to get started – although already behind – but I do wonder how it is going to work, writing 500 words of one thing and then trying to immerse myself in an extremely different thing.
I will tell you one thing, though. Even on the days when most of my time is taken up by things which are not writing, the thread of my 500-words that runs from day to day makes me feel that what I am, primarily, is a writer.
Hear that, world!
Claire Watts writes and edits fiction and non-fiction
for children and young adults.
Her latest YA novel is How Do You Say GOOSEBERRY in French?