My first novel, a psychological thriller called FRY, launched on Amazon this week. It took me over ten years to write it. Not because it’s particularly long (it’s just under 80,000 words) or because it involved a lot of research. No, I just didn’t plan. I had the idea for the name and one key scene whilst I was at university and I started to write. But I wasn’t happy with my first few chapters, so I screwed them up and wrote them again.
I would agonise for ages over the crafting of a single paragraph, a line, a word. Then, the next time I sat down to write, I would take the story in a completely different direction and my last attempt would go in the bin. I also procrastinated. I had far more free time back then than I realised but I did not make good use of it. I was easily distracted and would sit down to write, only to get up a few minutes later to de-scale the kettle or dissect a tube of toothpaste to see if the stripes run all the way through. Or find out what happen when you put an egg in the microwave.
I was definitely not a planner. Then, about five years ago, I started a distance novel writing course at the London School of Journalism. It was the best thing I could have done. I started again from scratch and this time, my novel was planned. It had a theme. It had structure. It still took me a few more years to complete it, but I had a couple of babies in the mean time. In fact, I was writing FRY when I went into labour with my son, who was rather aptly born on Halloween.
I don’t think the time I spent writing and re-writing was wasted, because it helped me to find my voice. But my new WIP, May Queen Killers, is going to be completely different. This time, I will be drawing up a detailed outline. I will do all my research in advance and come November (NaNoWriMo) I will write for all I’m worth. I will not procrastinate and I will not edit. I will just get that first draft down on paper as quickly as I can and then I will go back and refine it. The only reason I ever completed FRY at all, was because I finally decided enough was enough and I set myself a deadline. I had to pull quite a few late nights to get it finished but I met my goal and I couldn’t be happier. Ironically, now that I am busier than I’ve ever been, I have a flood of ideas, just waiting to be transformed into stories. No more procrastination for me. I don’t have time.
May Queen Killers comes out in May 2014. I can say that with complete certainly, even though I’ve yet to write a single word.
Thanks for guest posting, Lorna.