Writing my novel Picking up the Pieces – which I’m currently gearing up to publish – has been no mean feat. From first ideas to draft six we’re talking two years. I got paranoid about this, and convinced myself that I wasn’t a real writer, until reading this article about slow writing, which put my mind at ease. For me, the first big rewrite felt like a monumental task, but as with the original writing, once I’d established a good writing habit, it became much easier. So here are my tips, just in case you’re struggling with your own rewrite.

Take a break

After convincing myself that the book was a huge steaming pile of poo (damn those self doubt demons!) I took six months off from it altogether. In hindsight it was the best thing I did, as it gave me a new perspective and fresh set of eyes. Sometimes we are simply too close to our own words to be able to see what is right in front of us.

Get a second opinion

If you can afford it, I’m a massive advocate of having a manuscript critique by a professional editor. This means sending your work to someone who edits books for a living, and asking them to provide you with detailed, constructive feedback. I had mine done on the first draft about a year ago, and still believe that it £150 well spent. She pointed out that I was jumping around flitting from one point of view to another, which I hadn’t even realised I had been doing, or wasn’t allowed. She also mentioned other things that would have more than likely gone unnoticed. In addition to the editor, I’ve also sent various drafts off to friends and friends of friends to beta read. Their feedback has been really positive and some of it vital to moving the draft along.

tips on the rewriteGood writers are great editors

Which brings me nicely onto my next point. Don’t be afraid to cut whole paragraphs out, and even a whole chapter if you’re acting on good advice. I have a document called the cutting room floor, which is where I’ve kept whole chunks of text that didn’t make the final draft. It contains around six thousand words, which could potentially be used for other things. This provides a way for me to edit brutally without panicking later that I’ve deleted my best work.

Trust your gut instincts

Writing a book is like having another baby, and my maternal instincts have definitely come into their own. One of the conclusions I came to after my six month break was that the book being written in third person narrative wasn’t right. Picking up the Pieces is an emotionally charged roller coaster ride through motherhood and mental health, and first person narrative works so much better. It meant a crap tonne of additional work, but it was well worth it. I don’t think there’s a woman on the planet who won’t be able to connect with my protagonist Kate, especially mothers. With later drafts I just knew that certain things were not right. All it’s taken is for someone else to pick up on the same thing, to prompt the necessary changes. 

Don’t ignore the feedback you’ve asked for

Last week my dear friend – who is also a writer – read the book for the second time. She loved the very first draft, but said she literally couldn’t put it down this time. She read it in two days, and gave me some excellent feedback. The most significant thing she mentioned related to a chapter that I knew in my heart of hearts was the weak link. So it’s gone. It was Kate’s back story, and had key pieces of information which I’ve included elsewhere. Essentially I added two thousand words to the cutting room floor, but my goodness it felt good to not feel attached to them anymore.

Do you have any tips to add? Tweet me @mummytries

** thanks once again to the fabulous Unsplash for the gorgeous photos! 

P, C, F Greenwich

Amid silly amounts of sleep deprivation, out of control bedtimes and hubby not being home more than he was, an impressive list of awesome also occurred this week. Thought it would be nice to share a few of the ups from our rollercoaster of a life…

Book edits

The biggest news is that I’ve finished the edits for my novel, and am happy to start submitting the fifth draft of Picking up the Pieces to would-be agents. Although it’s a daunting prospect, it’s also an exciting one. Getting this task done has been no mean feat considering that three months ago I’d lost all faith in the book and my writing abilities. Once I put my mind to something, and fully commit to it though, I’m a force to be reckoned with. It’s great to feel proud of something that I’ve achieved, now I need to keep this momentum going and not get too disheartened by the inevitable rejections.

Back to learning

Even though they were all enjoying their Smartick lessons, I’ve really struggled to get the kids to do them throughout the summer. Polly felt it was unfair to have to work when her friends were playing all day, which is of course a valid point. However, I don’t think that 15 minutes maths each day is too much to ask during the holidays. I was really pleased that she did her lessons every day this week, and watching Polly meant that Clara and Freddy wanted to do their lessons too. We’ll continue doing this for two more weeks, then start our learning schedule after that. I’m excited about getting back into our routine, we’ll all be desperate for it by then.

Winning at GAPS

I’ve been back on the GAPS Intro Diet for three weeks now, and am feeling good for it. You can read more about my current journey over on my other blog. I’ve been loving getting back into shopping at farmers markets, and making loads of stock and fermented veggies. Here’s a photo of a delicious plate of ceviche I made, I cannot tell you how good it was. You know you’re in for a treat when you buy fish on a Sunday that was caught on the Friday.

ceviche

Caring for a sick pigeon

Yesterday morning we discovered an injured pigeon in our garden. It looked like it had been attacked, was unable to fly and could barely move. The children worked beautifully together as a team to take care of it, then we took it to a pigeon rescue centre. It’s run by volunteers, and I’m glad to have found it in case we need to use it again in the future.

Jumping on a giant trampoline bed

It’s not often you get to bounce on a giant trampoline disguised as a bed outside an iconic London train station. When Virgin Media invited us to do so, while we’re promoting their new Kids TV channel and app, we jumped at the chance. My three relished their time on the bed, and were all smiles throughout. It’s just a shame this isn’t an every day occurrence! You can read more about that here.