Tuesday, 12 August 2014


If you’ve read last week’s post, you’ll know that my aim this week is for time spent on the novel rather than a word count, because there’s lots of editing/rewriting to do now.

Tuesday 5th August
Spent Tuesday wandering round York, could it be a setting? It’s great if you can make a place really work for your novel in terms of theme or plot, but what's more important is that the reader can visualise or even, if it's a real place, recognise it. It’s important to remember that what we as writers notice about a place may be different to what the characters notice. If my characters have lived in York all their lives, they’re unlikely to notice the minster in detail and they probably won’t go on the ghost walk. One of my characters might notice a particular street name, though. Or she might notice her surroundings as she sits quietly looking at the river. I make a mental note to notice sounds and smells, because these can really help to create a sense of place. Time spent: I don't think today really counts!

Wednesday 6th August
Back from York so lots of emails to catch up on. Published the blog today (usually Tuesdays, but trip to York made it a day late). So, what with that, the Tweeting and Facebooking, then babysitting at 3.30, there wasn’t time to really get stuck in. But I did manage to print out what I’m now preferring to as the ‘Zero draft’. It’s not quite complete in that I haven’t decided on the ending, but this is the basic outline of the story. It'll need a lot of rewriting because it’s taken me most of this draft to get to know the characters properly and to learn what the story is actually about. Now I know the characters and I’m in story, I’m going to write it properly. Started reading through it tonight. Oh dear, a lot of work, I think... Time spent: one hour

Thursday 7th August
Had some admin stuff to do today, also hairdressers (believe me, not something that can wait any longer!) But have been itching to get on with the rewrites. This is my absolute favourite part of writing a novel, because I know that the redrafting I’m doing now is going to start making the whole thing come together, even if it still needs a lot more work at the end of this draft. Started off with a session in Costa this morning – a Sicilian lemon muffin and a large Americano to get me in the mood. Then home later for a bit of Tweeting and admin, then solid rewriting. Time spent: 4.5 hours

Friday 8th August
Finished rewriting one scene and started completely reworking another. Allowed myself 30 min on Twitter first thing, then emails, then worked on the novel from 10.45 – 12.45, then lunch, then worked from 1.30 – 6.30 pretty solidly. Time spent: 7 hours 

Saturday 9th August
Still rewriting the scene I started working on yesterday - it’s almost become a completely a new scene and is taking me ages. I mention a real event in this scene, so I’m constantly popping back and forth to Google to make sure I’ve got the facts right. Using this real event needs to do more in the story than just help to show the period I’m writing in, so I need to make sure it’s relevant to what the character is going through at the time. Worked all morning, but then knocked off at lunchtime for boozy lunch with a friend. Time spent: 3 hours

 Sunday 10th  August
STILL working on that same scene. Think I’ve got it licked now, though. So I’m moving onto the next scene, which is massively affected by the previous one, and so again, is more or less a complete rewrite. This is hard work, but it's the bit I most enjoy about writing – I know my characters and I know the story, so the rewriting is much more coherent than the original stuff that I spewed out without really knowing where I was going. As I’m writing this, there is torrential rain outside and howling winds. There is every chance that this weather will make it into the next scene! This being Sunday, I decided to start late (10am) to allow myself a little more reading time – I’m finally reading To Kill a Mockingbird. Then a break at 11.30 to go out with my other half for coffee and cake. Back at my desk at 1pm, but only worked for another couple of hours.
Time spent: 4.5 hours, which includes an hour working on the synopsis – a constantly changing document!

Monday 11th August
 Fairly straightforward day – half an hour on Twitter in the morning and another half an hour at lunchtime, but apart from that, steadily working my way through rewriting these scenes. Working on a scene that needs a fairly substantial rewrite, but really struggling to get it to do what I want it to do, so in the end, I decided to move on and come back to this tricky one later. Time spent today: 7.5 hours

I've changed my aim for the week from a word count target to a 'time spent on the novel' target. My aim, I can see, was a fairly modest 15 hours, but I've actually worked for almost double that amount of time - a total of 27.5 hours, mainly spent redrafting. I'm happy with that.

Nice things this week:
Lots of very lovely things happened this week, but nothing specifically writing-related. Ooh, except, perhaps, that The Secrets We Left Behind is on a Kindle monthly deal at £1.99, so that might bring in a few new readers, which is always nice.

The coming week:
Let's up the anti-a bit – I aim to spend 30 hours on the novel this week.

New Amazon reviews:
The Secrets We Left Behind: Three new ones – one 3-star, one 4-star, one 5-star
The Things We Never Said: Also three new ones – two 4-star, one 5-star

To find out more about me and my work, visit My website Or you can 'like' my My Facebook page or follow me on twitter, @sewelliot


  1. What an interesting shift, from word-count to time-spent. Can you isolate thinking time? I find writing lives with me - so if I'm in the middle of something it feels as if it's sitting on my shoulder most of the time. I'm impressed if you can identify time spent thinking.

    1. Yes, that's a good way of putting it, although in my case, it seems to be lurking beneath the surface and will only pop-up and sit on my shoulder when I'm not engaged with other things. I do quite deliberately go for walks when I need to think, and sometimes I just sit at the window with a cup of coffee and stare!