On December 31st 2013 I made a very small bucket list for the year ahead.
1. Write the book
2. Stay sane
Getting Become the Best You not only written in 2014, but also published, remains one of the greatest achievements of my life.
How did I manage it, you might be wondering? Well, I simply made that damn book my priority. Writing was the closest to ‘me time’ I was getting, which is understandable given that my third child was also born that year. Rather than go back to sleep after his 4am feed, I stayed awake and cracked on with the book.
A new idea
After the initial hype of Become the Best You had died down, I started getting itchy fingers. I wrote a short story and published it on the blog, not expecting much. The positive response was a pleasant surprise and I started thinking about how I could turn those 2000 words into an actual novel.
Was I really capable of pulling it off? The short answer is yes I was.
I wrote snippets in 2015, but at the beginning of 2016 I realised I needed to make writing a priority once again. So I did. Every single day I wrote. Every spare chunk of time I had was dedicated to writing (even if it was only five minutes sitting on the loo). I took every opportunity I could, and just wrote my heart out. It was a very liberating experience.
A great response
By the summer, I had a decent first draft on my hands. I sent it out to my beta readers, who all loved it. They each had brilliant feedback for me too, and I’ll be eternally grateful to them for reading my words in their infancy.
I had a manuscript critique carried out, and the suggestions from the editor all sounded doable. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of work I was faced with, and started straight away making edits on the printed manuscript. I did a Facebook Live, where I read out the synopsis and answered questions, which went better than expected. I changed the title of the book from Kate’s Story to Picking up the Pieces. I started thinking about a cover, and what my publishing options were.
It was all going a bit too well.
Then life got in the way
I wrote recently about how low I felt towards the end of last year, and my novel was one of the areas that suffered most. I completely lost confidence in my writing abilities.
Suddenly the background noise became all-consuming and I couldn’t find the time to continue with my edits. The task at hand now felt like an inexplicable amount of work, that I didn’t have a hope with completing. Worst of all, I started truly believing that the story was a pile of crap. What was the point in bothering to finish a book that no-one would buy or read?
So the manuscript languished for months on my kitchen counter. My enthusiasm died down, so people stopped asking for updates.
Now that I’m getting back to feeling like me again, I’ve been thinking about the novel. A lot. I mean, what a waste of effort it would be to not get it finished! The only way it’s going to happen is by being single minded about it, and regular followers of this here blog will already know that I’m a force to be reckoned with when I put my mind to something.
So here’s my plan of action
Tuning out to the noise. I’ve fallen into the trap lately of being easily distracted, and it needs to stop. No amount of me being on social media is going to change what’s happening in the world, so it’s time to step away from the feeds.
Tuning out to the self-doubt. All writers doubt themselves, and think their stories are rubbish at some point, that’s just a fact. The trick is to find a way of pushing past those negative thoughts, and turning them into something positive. Perhaps certain parts of the story are a bit crap, and need more work than others. Perhaps self-doubt is actually a writer’s way of facing up to what we already know?
Tuning out to the idea that I don’t have the time. I know from past experience that if I need to find the time for something that’s important, then I will. For me, editing is trickier than writing. I need peace and quiet to edit, whereas I can happily write anywhere. That doesn’t make it impossible though, I just need to be regimented about making the time, and protecting that time once I’ve made it.
Tuning out to the idea that it’s too big and too scary. Last night, I took a big deep breath and opened the manuscript. I spent two hours working on it, and felt so bloody good afterwards. Once I get a routine established, the book will just become part of my day to day.
Tuning out to the idea that no-one will read it. When I published my first book I was quite naive about how it all works. This time around I’m not under any illusions. I know full well how hard it is to sell books in such a saturated marketplace. This time I’m not doing it because I’m secretly hoping it’ll go viral (although that would be awesome!) I’m doing it for me.
It’s high time I did something that I’m super proud of. Wish me luck!