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Finishing the novel

(202 Posts)
butterfly133 Fri 12-Jun-15 13:46:58

Okay lovely MNers
I have a novel that's about 1/3 complete - it's been hanging around for years. I have now made a plan to finish it! I have 3 sessions per week where I can really get stuck in - one of them being will be different each week due to rota and family but there are def 3 session per week of 3 hours. Then there's any extra time. (I'm beginning to think I need to use my commute to do something as well, though that seems a bit overwhelming).

the structure is all there so I do know where it's heading, I just need to put bum on chair and do it. I hope some other "finishers" might want to join this thread and update?

My hope is to have it finished by end of September. Yikes! I really must sit down for the 3 sessions per week because I have previously done it in chunks and then I've had to reacquaint myself and ended up wondering "why" I made certain storyline decisions, only to go through the process again and make the same one!

so fingers crossed for more continuity and focus.

now I must tear myself away from browsing MN.....

Linds53 Fri 12-Jun-15 20:23:32

I try and write every night for that very reason, butterfly. If I leave the story for more than a couple of days I lose the thread of what I'm trying to achieve in a scene. I work full time and don't have a lot of spare time, but by cutting out tv viewing (not a hard decision) I manage to write for an hour or so each evening, longer when I'm able. And I've got post it note on my lap top with my predicted nightly word count. Sadly I have to adjust it regularly because I don't quite manage!

butterfly133 Sat 13-Jun-15 09:53:22

That's great, Linds. I wouldn't worry about a word count myself, quality being just as important? Got another session today, thought yesterday went well. Sometimes it all feels like such a gigantic task. Trying to be very methodical about it.

Linds53 Sat 13-Jun-15 12:17:12

If I don't set myself a word count I procrastinate instead and no writing gets done, quality or otherwise. And also if I focus on finishing an entire novel the task can seem overwhelming. Helps me, but everyone has to find what works for them. I work most efficiently when I've got a deadline, which is why I enter writing competitions.

butterfly133 Sat 13-Jun-15 14:15:12

oh, that's interesting. It might be the case that you are more advanced than I am too. I am still at the stage where I realise I've got the essence of a scene a bit wrong and it annoys me to throw stuff out - I've thrown so much stuff out! So now I am taking a more methodical approach, but that's me.

Did a short session today but think it was useful. Shorter than planned, so might squeeze another hour in tomorrow. I am happy to be flexible. I think I will keep posting here to help myself keep on track.

TheWordFactory Sun 14-Jun-15 13:41:31

Hi OP.

I set myself a daily goal for writing . Usually word count ( around 2000). Sometimes an editing job. Sometimes an admin task ( synopsis or whatever).

I'm usually on tightish deadlines from my publisher so that helps grin. When I'm not I set myself tight deadlines anyway.

butterfly133 Sun 14-Jun-15 18:15:46

TheWordFactory - you have a deal? How exciting!

I have done some more planning today - I find I need to plan or I waste scenes or emphasis the wrong stuff. While planning, it occurred to me that maybe I need to start using commuting time. Not really possible if I don't have a seat, but when I add it all up, it is a lot of time and if I accept the writing will need heavy editing, I might have to bite the bullet and use it.

I will also have to cope with someone looking over my shoulder, lol.

I have always thought it's just the wrong space for trying to write but maybe I can achieve something and add a bit of continuity into it.

TheWordFactory Sun 14-Jun-15 18:29:34

butterfly I'm quite a way down the line ( eight books published so far).

That said, I've always written anywhere and everywhere.

Book 1 was often written in soft play when my twins were little grin.

I plan less now because I am long in the tooth. I suspect it's all subconscious now. But I meticulously planned my first few books for exactly the reasons you say. It really helps to avoid waste.

I used to write up every scene on a flash card including whose POV , where, what happens etc before I even started the first draft. Now I think I do that mentally.

TheWordFactory Sun 14-Jun-15 18:31:18

BTW what's your book about?

butterfly133 Sun 14-Jun-15 18:41:28

8 - wow! In order to avoid losing my secret identity - ha ha - I'll just say it's a coming-of-age story.

I don't think I will attempt any more historical ones, feel like I'm checking stuff every 5 minutes.

TheWordFactory Sun 14-Jun-15 18:48:17

Well very good luck with it.

My advice is to take it and yourself as a writer seriously. Give yourself permission smile.

butterfly133 Sun 14-Jun-15 18:58:58

thanks smile my problem is more keeping enthusiastic. I think that's why I worked in fits and starts - it's so much fun when you get an urge to do it and so much less fun when you find a spare hour in the day and commit to using that....hence why I thought I've got to bite the bullet and write in the commute. if I actually know which scene I'm working on and the full details, then I might as well get the first draft of that down in time that is otherwise not use-able for anything else. At the moment I read or listen to music.

butterfly133 Sun 14-Jun-15 18:59:56

and of course that way it doesn't interfere with fun stuff or family stuff. I am not exactly super alert in the AM so this will be interesting...will try for first time tomorrow!

TheWordFactory Sun 14-Jun-15 19:11:00

You get used to working to order. Honest.
I've basically been working to deadline for over ten years. I have to write. The advance has been spent grin.

A very good mate of mine wrote her second book under horrendous circumstances. Divorce, ill health, problems with money! She said it was good to know that she could still manage something half decent even when she wasn't enjoying it.

My rule is to crack on and even if I know what I'm writing is shit, still crack on. Once I'm at the end I can improve things.

butterfly133 Sun 14-Jun-15 21:02:56

ah, but how did you motivate yourself before you had an advance? I can imagine you would write to order if it was your job, but in my case it began as a bit of fun and then I thought...wait a minute, maybe I can do this?

Linds53 Sun 14-Jun-15 21:28:40

Have you thought about entering a short story/novel competition, butterfly? It might give you the push to finish something and if you win or get shortlisted, it's very encouraging. And if not, at least you've got a finished piece of work.

TheWordFactory Mon 15-Jun-15 08:52:53

butterfly I too wrote my first novel for a bit of fun grin.

I never imagined it would become my job!

Basically, I set myself a deadline. My DC were young and I'd had to give up my job as we moved abroad temporarily. I'd been studying while abroad and tinkering with the novel.

When we returned, I gave it six months to settle back into UK life, then I would go back to my old job. So that became my writing deadline.

I know far too many people who have spent years writing a book/script and never actually finish it. I didn't want to be That Person.

TheWordFactory Mon 15-Jun-15 08:54:32

I should add that my experience now is that one of the main differences between those of us who are published and those who are not, is not talent, but ability to finish.

butterfly133 Mon 15-Jun-15 13:09:53

TheWordFCtory, interesting! Keeping on is what I must do. Very inspirational.

Linda, yes but it resulted in me rushing it and doing wrong.

I did some en route to work. I have a fast lunch to make my day shorter so that's not an option but I was more productive than i thought I'd be esp considering it was morning, lol.

GemmeFatale Mon 15-Jun-15 13:18:10

Can I join this thread too? I have four novels in idea phase (as in I've drafted basic story arcs and major characters then stalled), a couple of short pieces I need to finish and polish and a blog that is woefully neglected. I've got three years to make writing work for me or I have to go back to the day job (temporarily moved for husband's job, can't work in my old industry here).

I really do need to just force myself to finish something

TheWordFactory Mon 15-Jun-15 13:37:12

I'm happy to post what work I'm doing if that helps people stay motivated.

But if it has the opposite effect, then I'm also happy to STFU grin.

butterfly133 Mon 15-Jun-15 14:44:51

I would love to have other people on the thread posting whatever you fancy ��Will you mind if I post to say I've done my planned sessions? I'm getting a bit embarrassed IRL because everyone knows how many times I've tried and failed....!

TheWordFactory Mon 15-Jun-15 16:31:43

Well I have three projects on the go at the moment.

Project 1 is a crime novel. This is my bread and butter; how I make a living. I've already had my advance and have a deadline for the first draft of December.

I don't feel spectacularly excited by this one. But this is the last book in a three book deal and I have to finish. Plus professional pride means it must be half decent and on time.

Project 2 is a play for radio 4. It's a two hander and I have a nearly first draft in the bag. But the draft is baggy. Far too long (over 45 mins and I've not written the ending yet!).

Project 3 is something I'm really fired up about. Which is classic because it's the one thing I haven't yet received a penny for grin. I'm writing a novel and screen play side by side. I'm in talks with a production company in the states, who usually buy books/ideas and use their own people to turn them into scripts. But I stood my ground and have refused (at this stage) to hand it over. I want to write both...

butterfly133 Mon 15-Jun-15 19:09:46

TheWordFactory, it sounds like you've achieved what I wanted to achieve - you've become quite prolific and make your whole living from writing? I did want that, in my 20s, but then did jobs with loads of overtime and stuff to raise a deposit, so didn't even get started on trying to write till my 30s.

I don't regret it. I have met a few people who have given up jobs and what not, or who are in trouble with their partner, because they took time off to write and it came to naught, so while I did consider that, I finally thought consistent income was more important.

if you don't mind me asking, how does it work out if you write the play and the script - I presume it's better money than if you just handed over the rights? But I'm not sure because I know someone who handed over her rights to her novel for £20k (to a British film company) and I thought that was good, but have no clue what they would have paid her to do the script.

Obviously just ignore me if I am being far too nosey.

TheWordFactory Mon 15-Jun-15 20:48:18

I didn't write my first novel until I was in my 30s either! So don't worry.

With regards to film/telly rights, usually what happens is an author sells an option to a production company.

The money is often not as much as most people think.

With the American thing, I don't want to do that. Partly due to money (I'll get much more if they buy my script) but also to do with wanting to break into that market and wanting to keep some semblance of creative control over the project. I mean, I realise that they can still severely tamper with the idea but at least I'd be involved, whereas once you've sold your option to a novel, there really is fuck all you can do about what they turn it into (unless you're JK Rowling or the 50 Shades woman).

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