Reflections on.. writing your first novel.

I began world-building for my first novel whilst we were still enjoying our summer holiday and have been writing between 3-6 hours a day, Monday – Friday since halfway through February.

Amazingly, I’m already at 37.4k words on my first draft and have a new and deep appreciation for the craft.

I’ve consumed a lot of books in the past 6-7 years, I did some rough math the other day and calculated that I read on average 3 books a week, since I picked up my first eBook. A lot of books, a lot of words.

After a few weeks of online courses and study, I began putting my ideas together. It was a little stop/start, to begin with, because I needed the right tool to gather and organise everything. I tried Scrivener and it worked for a time but the process of saving drafts to dropbox and trying to move between my writing laptop and PC was onerous.

After a considerable amount of searching, I found a cloud-based tool called “living writer” and since I moved the notes and character sheets across to this, it’s been an easier process.

Like most writers, I often think of things a random times, and I can use this tool to add dialogue to a scene or make a story note that I can easily access when I’m at my writing desk. Before I had this, the notes app on my phone was full of ideas, scenes, settings as well as notes on the characters of my current book. (I tried to show a friend the menu I’d planned for a themed dinner party and randomly gave her the note that detailed the villain of my current book… she thought I was serving locusts, but that’s a story for another time)

When I’m asked what made me decide to write I usually tell people I’ve always wanted to write (7 year old me thought she’d be a writer, artist or musician) but the number of books I have read and continue to, should also be a clue.. as the marvellous Mr Terry Pratchett once said: “And I went on reading; and, since if you read enough books you overflow, I eventually became a writer.”

This experience has changed me already. Moving through the concepts, character creation, world building, scenes, dialogue – the story arcs.. its a big undertaking and I have no idea how our contemporaries did this on typewriters. Aghast at the very thought! No wonder writers have traditionally locked themselves away in designated spaces to weave words into worlds.

So here we are! All 37.4k words of it so far.. and more than ever before I have so much admiration for the storytellers of the world. The process of writing is beautiful, painful, frustrating and exhilarating.

But we write because we must.



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