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Mutant Literary Mega Monster (or: When a Book Grows Arms, Legs, a Tail, Horns, Webbed Feet…)

October 18, 2014 Leave a comment

This month I’ve joined a small band of fellow writers who felt the need to give their writing a boost.  For the whole of October we have set our own targets and posted our progress as we go.  The reason I joined was because the book I am writing seemed to be taking me ages and working on it felt like wading through treacle while wearing flippers.

Now, I almost always get to a point in a book when I feel like this (and I’m not alone – many writers will tell you about the curse of the saggy middle) but this time it went on for a long, long time.  Months in fact.  And all my usual tricks weren’t working.  I could have just abandoned it, but I still felt that there was something there and that if I could just get my first draft down, then I would have something to work with and polish and craft into a finished book.

So I joined the group and set myself a target of 7,000 words a week.  And so far, it’s working.  Some days the words have been wrestled onto the page with great difficulty; other days they have flowed more easily; some days it’s been a bit of both.  The support of other writers has been invaluable – as has my daily 1,000 words reward of chocolate.

I set myself the 7,000 word a week goal, because I estimated that the book would take around 30,000 more words to complete.  As at today, I am less than 10,000 words off the target.  So I should be patting myself on the back for being ahead of schedule.  However, it has now become clear that this book needs a lot more words than that if I’m to get to the end of the story.

So my promise to myself of extra rewards for each day lopped off my target date looks like coming to nothing.  My book has become wayward and is doing its own thing now.  I am discovering things I didn’t know about my characters and their world, and several unexpected events have thrown themselves into the story while my back was turned.  But I’m not too upset.  It’s at this point, when the story seems to have a mind of its own, that the writing becomes much more exciting.

Nicola Barker has said that “the first three quarters of a book is boredom, then the last quarter is a gift.”  Do you know, I think she might just be right.