I have been off work for a while now – stress and high anxiety – I don’t really want to go into it at the moment, although it could well inform my writing in months to come when I’ve got some distance from it all.
However, what this period away from the 9-5 day has meant is that I have been able to write seriously for the first time in my life. Up until this point I have sort of tinkered around with writing: starting a writing course and leaving it 12 years between my first and second assignment sort of tinkering! I have tried various things to get writing in this time, including starting a vampire novel. I did get quite a way through the vampire novel – 20,000 words give or take a couple of hundred – but my writing routine was pitiful. I started out handwriting the novel – which I thought would be a lovely earthy way of being in touch with my writing but the truth is it just meant that everything took forever. And although, I set myself a target of 1000 words a day, I very rarely put pen to paper on a regular basis.
Being at home and feeling little inclined to get out and about meant that I had to find some structure to my days: writing provided this. As I have mentioned previously, I entered a Mills and Boon writing competition. And no, I’m not going to make any apologies for this no matter how sniffy some people become when Mills and Boon or Romance is mentioned. I didn’t win the competition but I did write a book. I made two important discoveries while writing this book:
1. That writing by hand is not for me; it makes me less productive and that isn’t good.
2. When I’m on a roll, I can write over 4000 words a day.
This may not seem like much, but it has been a bit of a corner turning moment for me. It hasn’t stopped me from the old tinkering around and procrastinating yet, but at least it means that I’ve got a shot at getting on with writing at a much more satisfying rate than formerly. I didn’t mention that the 20,000 words I’d written of the vampire novel had taken around 4 years to write. Put that against 60,000 words in 3 months and you’ll see what I mean.
So, I can write regularly; I can write quantity. Now I have to discover whether I can write quality and whether I can continue writing on a regular basis and turn out enough in terms of quantity to move forward.
Next week, I go back to work. Then the real test will begin.