Since I’m documenting the whole process of writing my book, I thought I should include a post about distractions.

On Monday my wife discovered that I’d dropped a biro on the lounge carpet, resulting in a disturbing stain. She called in our chums at the best carpet cleaner in West Sussex (we’re biased as they’re good friends, hence the plug!)  They did a splendid job, although I understand biro isn’t the easiest of stains to remove.

But my point is that because they’re friends and we wanted to get them in fast, I said that I’d move all the furniture. It’s one of those things you say, then instantly regret. But I did move it all, got a horrible backache, and spent the next two days unable to sit at my desk for more than a few minutes.

Just dropping (and standing on) that biro cost me half a day lost moving all the furniture (then having to clean the skirting board, etc). Plus another couple of days when I couldn’t sit at the computer.  See what I mean? Distractions.

The other big distraction since last week was Susie the dog. She managed to get something stuck in her paw, so that meant 2 visits to the vet. Her paw has had to be dressed twice a day as well. It all adds up to less time to work on my book.

What it is to be a frustrated author.

Well I’m going to pin this to the front of my blog to remind me that I must keep on track and next time the wife can take the dog to the vet because my time is too valuable.

Despite these drags on my time, I have managed to give some thought to what I should now call the book, since I decided against the original. I’ll document this process in the next post and reveal my decision.

Thing with a title though is that it’s not set in stone, so I could in fact change it any time before the book is published (if it ever is).  I have been looking into self-publication and Amazon do an interesting publish-on-demand type of service. Haven’t got my head around it yet, but I’ll be reporting back once I understand how it all works and how much it will cost.

That does sound like a viable option though. I’m well aware that it’s difficult to get a book published and although I like the idea of my story in print, I’m not daft enough to use a vanity publisher and fork out thousands.

It’s probably premature, anyway, to worry about publishing, since I haven’t actually started writing the story yet. However I am working on it in my head and things are coming together.

To be continued xxxxx


Refining the Outlined Book

Yep it’s about time to really get down to writing. I’ve spent a long time formulating everything in notes and now I’m getting started on putting pen to paper (so to speak).

As you know, I wrote the first couple of chapters a couple of weeks ago and was quite pleased with the way things were going. I had a plan to work solidly every day, but like everything in life, (or at least in my life) it didn’t work out that way. The distractions (see my last blog) almost took over my life, but I have fought back and found enough time to make a lot of notes.

And there are a lot of notes!  I’ve been doing some dictation into my old-fashioned dictaphone and also some scribbling. Sometimes it just seems to flow and other times I can’t get my head around anything.

I now have the outline of the story in some detail. Not just sketchy this time but more block by block. It just needs me to fill in each paragraph. I’ve found that this is the way I write. It’s a revelation to me because I thought I’d be starting at the beginning and just working through once I had an idea of where it was going.

But I found that just didn’t flow. So I wrote broad chunks at a time till the end of the story. Now I’m getting around to rewriting every chunk to fill in the nooks and crannies and make it into a book. At the moment I probably only have enough to make into a very short story!

The other thing I discovered is that I can’t write or type nearly fast enough. So I’ve found that the dictaphone has come in handy and enabled me to get more down.

My goal is to flesh it all out over the next couple of months. I think it will take that long to complete the first draft, especially given the things I have to do at the same time, like mowing the lawn and walking the dog.

I’ll be reporting back soon on how it’s all coming together.


One of my characters is a bookkeeper so I’ve been in touch with a lovely lady who is a bookkeeper in Horsham (I promised to give her business a mention in my blog).

I needed to do some research on how she went about her everyday business. I know it sounds like I could make it up, but when I thought it through I just couldn’t see what she did on a day-to-day basis.

So I contacted Mary and asked her if she’d help with my book. Actually I think she was quite pleased and she ran through her daily routine. We met for coffee in a little Horsham cafe and talked for a couple of hours. I’m not sure how these coffee shops make any money when people like me are frequent customers.

So I’ve been able to formulate a picture of how a bookkeeper would actually operate and it’s coming in handy as I get started.

The next character I needed to research was a banker, but somehow there’s a lot more information about bankers on the internet and I was able to piece together what I needed. I also found a couple of books that have given me a feel for what they do every day.

But bankers have quite interesting lives – especially when they defraud banks or make massive bonuses. Whereas a bookkeeper tends to be a much more solitary soul who tiptoes through life trying not to offend anyone as far as I can see.

So that’s given me a bit of background, moving along…

Ready to Start Writing

I had my plot more-or-less figured out, apart from the end, so I decided to jump in and start writing.

Before I began I made a plan of when and where I would write. Working from home can be pretty difficult because (as I wrote last time) there are many distractions. I found I was getting carried away worrying about the title. I though I’d decided, but somehow it just didn’t sound right in the end, so now I’ve made up my mind to ignore everything and just get on with it.

My plan says that I get up pretty early – before 7am and start writing by 8am. I keep going through to 1pm, when I stop for lunch. I do have to have lots of tea to keep me going. Then a walk after lunch and start again at 3pm. I’ll write again for a couple of hours and be finished for the day by 5pm.

That means I’m writing for 7 hours a day solid, 35 hours a week and I reckon that should enable me to make pretty good progress.  I’ll review this after a couple of weeks to ensure it works well. I don’t want to get behind schedule but on the other hand I don’t want to burn out!

In the evening, around once a week, I shall update the blog to document how it’s all going.

Today is Thursday and I started writing yesterday. I thought it went quite well considering I’ve no experience of being an author. In the two days I’ve just about finished the first chapter. I’m not sure how many words, but it seems like quite a lot.  I’m guessing there will be about 20 chapters in all, but I haven’t really planned that part – just let it flow.

When I got to the end of the chapter, I was able to think of a name for it. Not sure whether that’s a topsy turvy way of going about it, but it seemed to work for me.

I’m going to carry on through the book, without reading through Chapter 1 again, otherwise I think I’ll spend another couple of days changing it and trying to improve it. I’m not sure that will really work because I think the story will flow better if I just hammer on.

So tomorrow I will start on Chapter 2 and I hope to have it finished by Monday, when hopefully I’ll have enough time to post in the blog.


Refining the Plot

I’ve spent some time reviewing my initial draft and I’m a bit disappointed that it doesn’t sound as good today as it did when I wrote it! I suppose that’s why they say “back to the drawing board”.  It seems to be something you have to do over and over.

But it’s not all rubbish and I have managed to salvage some bones.  Today I’ve been contemplating the entire plot and finally I think I have it outlined in my mind. I decided to use my mobile phone to record my thoughts because I can’t type fast enough. It was a bit frustrating because I kept losing the train before I got it all on paper, but I can speak pretty fast so that worked much better.

I used an app that translates speech into the written word, but to be honest that didn’t work too well. It had to be proof-read in order to get any sense out of it. I’m thinking that perhaps I should employ someone to transcribe my ramblings once I get started on dictating the storyline. I think it would be far quicker than typing it out myself or retyping it from the speech app.  I expected it to be much better at recognising what I said, but I guess my speech isn’t that clear.

That all took quite a while, but I got it finished just after lunch, then took a break to refresh my mind.

The afternoon went much better. My idea was to flesh out the story and I found this worked quite well by having a written draft of the outline and typing in extra bits in red. Then I read the whole thing through, changed bits here and there and changed the colour to black.

I’m quite pleased with the end result and think I have something I can work with. I have more information about Awill, I’ve come to know him quite well and I’ve filled in his background. It must be a bit like creating an alias for a spy!  Interesting work though and I think the outcome is good.

Beyond Awill, I have 3 other important characters and have worked out their backgrounds, though not in so much detail. I found that getting to know the characters makes the storyline flow better. You tend to know what they’re likely to do and how they’ll react in any given situation. It’s strange how it all starts to take shape, and strangely exciting.

I still haven’t decided exactly how the story finishes, but I think that won’t take shape fully until the final chapter is written. I feel that if I know how it all pans out, that will affect the way I talk about the characters and how I treat them. Strange that, but they are coming to life and I have my favourites. If I’d decided to kill off one, or make him a villain for example, it would be difficult to be empathetic.

But perhaps I’m being fanciful. I need to standback and write it as a story, rather than a fiction that is happening around me.


Getting something down on paper

Today I’ve sketched out on my computer the plot of How Safe is Awill in the UK?

The first thing that springs to mind is that the title isn’t good. I mean it’s too long and doesn’t really flow. So I may change it. But that isn’t something I’m going to think about at the moment, otherwise I’ll get distracted and never finish my plot.

It took me about 4 hours to get everything down. It’s surprising how it starts to come together as you start writing. So I started by noting down the beginning that I already had in my head. Then I let my thoughts ramble and imagined how it could develop.

I had a few false starts as I rambled in the wrong direction, but I kept coming back and refocusing until I think I have the basis of a good plot.

It was a lot easier than I was anticipating. And the characters developed and started taking on a life of their own. I suppose it helped that I have a history of talking out loud to myself and I have a good imagination, so I just transferred that to the plot.

I shut myself away with no distractions. Turned off my mobile phone because I know any emergency calls would come to the landline anyway, and just worked. I stopped for 20 minutes for a snack at lunchtime and had a couple of cups of coffee, but otherwise it was full-on.

So right now I have the bones of the plot. I know the characters, I know what they look and sound like, and I know their part in the story. I also know how it’s all going to pan out and what happens at the end.

I’m pretty pleased with myself and I think the next stage will be to put more meat on the bones. I’ve decided that I’ll pad out the plot before knuckling down to writing.  I think that will work best for me. But I’m sure it will all evolve further as I work on each chapter.  I have a feeling it will take on a life of its own.

It’s pretty exciting

Back home


Ok I’ve spent some time looking through different ways to write a novel and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are 1,001 ways and it’s down to me!

Well I was hoping for more concrete guidance but I suppose that everyone has different ideas.

I’ve discovered that some authors just shut themselves away for several months and don’t do anything else until they’ve produced a book.

Others work, say, 3 or maybe 8, hours a day and just plug away.

Some start, do the planning, get an idea of the plot, then put it away for a while to let things fester in their brains.

Hmm. So different strokes for different folks.

Some writers churn out their material slowly and deliberately, getting it right as they go. Others just get anything down, screaming through the story as a first draft. Then they spend ages going over and over it to refine it into a novel.

Differences again.

Some authors type their drafts on old-fashioned typewriters, some use computers (much easier in my opinion). A surprising number draft their novels by pen, or even pencil, and some dictate it for someone else to transcribe.

Then again, some writers work out the entire plot before they get started, then fill in the details before they write. Others only know the beginning and let the story flow as they get going.  Then there are those who have a vague idea of the plot but let it fill out as they go.

Oh lord, I’m no further forward. But tomorrow I’m going to start doing something because I can’t go on and on researching without getting started.

Back Home

The Start

Before I even start I’m doing some research on the internet to see how I should plan it all!

Good old Google.

The only thing I’ve got so far is the title: How Safe is Awill in the UK, and a vague idea of a plot. Or at least I’ve got an idea of the start of a plot. I thought I’d let my imagination wander as we go and see where it leads.

So it’s quite exciting to get started and I’ll report back when I know the next step.