This year has been marked by one desperate scramble towards a deadline after another, and on Sunday afternoon I slumped back in my chair with yet another ‘phew’ after finishing the complete draft of my time slip. What a relief to get there – largely thanks to missing a party on Saturday and writing until 1.30 in the morning. I’ve never written such a long and complicated book before, and I wasn’t at all sure I could do it, so I’m pleased with myself for even getting this far.
Of course, it’s only a draft, and the last few scenes are particularly ‘drafty’ as I galloped to the finishing line, but I keep reminding myself that the whole point of a draft is just to get the story down. The temptation is to pull my hair out about all the things that are wrong with it, but I’m having a pause to do what I advise new writers to do, and think positively about what I’ve accomplished – all 116,113 words of it – rather than negatively about how much I still need to do.
That will come on Tuesday, when I brace myself to re-read the whole thing, and make notes about where the story needs to be tightened, what needs to be cut and what layered and textured. I’ve changed some names and whole plot points as I’ve been writing, so they’ll all have to be sorted out too, and there are certain areas I’m going to have to do a lot more research … but I’m not going to think about that just yet.
I celebrated last night with a gin and tonic, a long bath and evening in front of the telly without having to force myself back upstairs to write. Bliss! And today I’m going to be happily busily, cooking - tomato tarts, roast chicken and Nigella Lawson's Slut-Red Raspberries in Chardonnay Jelly - and getting ready for cards tonight. A whole day not lashed to the keyboard … how happy am I?? I’m going to make the most of it, because tomorrow it’ll be back to work.
My first job will be to draw myself up another timetable, and start planning a treat for when I get to the end of the next stage. I’m thinking a trip somewhere … Deadlines and rewards have always worked for me, and I’m very envious of writers who don’t have to coax themselves through the whole process.
How do you reward yourself when you get to the end of a chunk of writing?