Getting back to the novel – one word at a time

So I’ve spent lots of time distracting myself from the task that should be in hand – actually finishing a first draft. I’ve started a writing group in my village, taken a short story writing course, submitted short stories to magazines and entered them in writing competitions, learned about the submissions process (slightly premature some would say) and taken another course on how to write a crime novel (bit random as I am currently writing fantasy but I do love a good whodunit).

I feel I have learned a lot in all of this and I have met some great friends and writers along the way. My writing group is turning into a fantastic support network and some of us have started sharing our writing outside of the group exercises which is exactly what I wanted from it – writers willing to give me constructive feedback on my writing.

But, my novel is not getting written.

I met a writer last night who told me that he gets up 2 hours early for work, travels to London on the train writing as he travels and then sits in a McDonalds and writes for another hour before going to work. Now that’s a man who is finishing first, second and third drafts of novels. That is commitment to the task.

I am busy looking after my children, my baby cries all night so I am tired, I have to plan work for the writing group, entering short story competitions is good for my writing, I’ll get back to the novel when I have a chunk of time. These statements are all true. But what if I wrote my novel in every spare five minutes I have? What if I didn’t worry too much about how much time I might have before one of the kids wakes up or the washing machine needs emptying so they actually have clothes to wear and just got words on a page?

I’ve been trying this for the last couple of weeks and slowly, my novel is moving forwards – by 7000 words so far. The words on the page may well be written while I am juggling tasks or trying to keep an eye on my now crawling baby who is into everything. They may well be absolute rubbish. But they are giving me something to work with later. Something to edit and improve. If I don’t ever finish a first draft I will never be able to make it better.

I need some of the commitment to the task demonstrated by the man I met last night. I just need to keep going. One word at a time, in whatever time I have.

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