Rob’s Novel Writing Challenge: Day One
Today was perfect writing weather. I woke to a storm raging outside, splattering rain ferociously against the window. Despite the flood warnings Ján went off on a shopping expedition to Austria with his mum so I had the place to myself. I settled down to begin a new novel with the whole day – and a blank page – stretching out in front of me.
I have been planning this book, the sequel to The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard for some time. In the past few months ideas have been swirling inside my head, the good ones which triumphantly bobbed to the surface were scribbled on paper or tapped into my phone, a story took shape and was collated into the sacred sheets of paper which now form my plan. Then the day arrived to actually begin, and I am not ashamed to admit I was terrified, excited too – but terrified.
I’d literally sat down, a coffee at my elbow, computer on my lap, dog at my feet when the most wonderful distraction occurred. The proof print edition of The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard arrived (the e-book edition has been out since early summer). In the past few weeks we’ve been working to get it ready and it plopped onto the doormat- three days earlier than expected- with a challenging thump as if to say ‘follow this bee-ach!’
After cooing over its gorgeousness, fondling the creamy crisp pages, elegant fonts and inhaling that delicious new book smell – with the added kick of it being my own, I put it to one side and pushed my brain back to its sequel.
Seeing the finished product of one book in all it’s bound glory, hasn’t made it any easy to write another. I had to keep reminding myself of all the advice I’ve heard and doled out.
‘Just write the damn thing, get it down on paper then you’ll know exactly what the story is.’
‘Don’t get it right get it writ!’
‘Writing is rewriting.’
When I started Coco, back in 2008, I got caught in the writers quagmire of trying to make the first draft perfect and spent the first six months going over and over the first chapter. This time around I’ve planned out the whole story, so I need to get my head down and write my way towards its conclusion.
Writing a sequel is a double-edged sword. On the plus side, I have most of the characters – the series regulars I’ll call them – fully formed in my head. There are some newbies I am excited to develop into strong characters. On the downside, I have a hard act to follow. So many people loved the first book and gave me wonderful feedback. The pressure is on.
Therefore, in addition to writing the second book, I have chosen to write about writing the second book. My reasons are a little selfish, documenting the process will spur me on to hit my target. I want to have a strong first draft by Christmas which gives me about nine and a half weeks, to quote a saucy film title. The first draft needs to be around 75,000 words and in good shape. This means writing 1600 words a day, five days a week, which should get me there by 21st December. If anyone has any advice and/or words of encouragement they are welcome to comment. Also let me know if you are starting something new – it would be great to encourage each other!
I set a similar challenge last year when I wrote Bitch Hollywood with Ján. However, we didn’t stay on track and wrote ourselves an awful lot of word count IOU’s which meant we had to knock out 3,000 words a day in the final week.
So here we are, at the beginning. All rather thrilling, and a dash terrifying. Join me along the way as I keep you updated on writing this book. Now I must leave you for now… I’ve 1600 words to write.