Sunday, 22 December 2013

Novel Idea: New Approach

I took a rather lengthy break from writing Blood Rose.

I spent part of it reading a book, but mostly it's been the usual writer's junk fest of procrastination and social media. This pie chart aptly sums up the creative process.

So, I've changed tack. I've ditched the 1k a day idea, as I clearly haven't written 1k a day for quite some time, and when I have it's never lasted more than about three weeks and resulted in excessive avoidance anxiety.

Instead, I've opted for designated writing days. Instead of stipulating 1k, to be written any time during the day, I've not set myself a writing limit, but I need to get up, get showered, make a cup of coffee and start writing before I do anything else. No social media, only a blank Google page should I require assistance from Wikipedia, Etymology Online, the encyclopedia of Persian baby names or the define [word] function.

It seems to be working. On Thursday I wrote 3,083 words over a couple of hours. Yesterday I added 984 more to that, and today I've written a solid 4,193, bringing the grand total of the manuscript up to 88,990.

Hopefully the next sitting will take me past the 90k mark, which would be fabulous.

There definitely comes a natural break in each sitting where I think 'no, I've had enough now,' but the difference is that I start with enthusiasm. The problem with the 1k routine is that it is exactly that... a routine. Like the contraceptive pill, a 9-5 job and advent calenders (which contain chocolate, so that's really saying something) - I'm just not very good at them.

Routines either have to be habitual, such as blogging (which in my case is more of a mania) or so infrequent that you've forgotten about them by the time you have to do them again (like tax returns).

If I have to do something, I usually will. If I have to do that something on a regular basis, I usually won't.

So, I'm writing again and I'm loving it again. Bit of an irksome plot issue to figure out before my next sitting, but at least I'm confident there will be a next sitting, and I'm even looking forward to it.

For now, I shall leave you with a little excerpt of dialogue I rather enjoyed writing, from about 10,000 words back in time.

Since the boy had disappeared, the garden was once again overgrown. At the far end, next to a tiny rosebush choked by vines, I discovered a circle of white feathers, as though someone had dropped a bag of flour on the ground. It occurred to me that I had not heard the peacock for several days. Either something had stolen into my garden and attacked it, or Şelale had put it in her broth.

“A sad end,” Eirik said, appearing beside me in his brown leather mask.

Shayda’s sickness had so consumed me that I had forgotten Eirik was even there. I assumed he had taken his leave, returning to his building site at Sari, or his fine house in Tehran. I did not know whether he was referring to the peacock or to Sheyda, so I remained silent.

“You know,” he continued, “it would do your friend good to get some fresh air. It’s unhealthy to remain in bed for so long. Let me build her a shelter where she can sit and enjoy the garden, shaded from the sun.”

I stared at him for a moment, uncertain why he should care.

“Where?” I asked.

He thought for a moment, casting his eye across the grounds. “There.” He pointed to a part of the lawn in the east, which caught the best of the morning light but which the trees protected at noon. “A perfect place, wouldn’t you agree?”

I could not see what he saw. To me, it was just another patch of garden. Where he saw a magnificent pagoda, I saw only grass and sky.

“Do you really want to do something to help my servant?” I asked him.

“Of course,” he replied. “If it helps you.”

“Then get rid of the baby,” I said urgently, placing my hand on his arm. “You can do that. You can make anything happen. Perform your magic and make it vanish. Make it never have happened.”

“I cannot do that.”

“You— you can do anything. You can make men silent and still whilst you remove their organs in front of them. You can build palaces with passages that lead to the ends of the earth, you can appear in mirrors, you can make music like the angels, you can speak from the other side of the room and lasso a needle from twenty paces, and you tell me you cannot make one tiny, unborn infant disappear?”

“I will not do it,” he said quietly.

“You can but you will not? You dare to defy me in this matter?”

Tears started to prickle the sides of my eyes. I went to slap him, but he caught my wrist.

“Shahzadi, life is sacred.”

I snorted my disdain.

“You’re an assassin, a murderer. How can you stand there and tell me such a thing!”

“Everything will die, but first it must live.”

“Oh!” I cried. “Really? Even if it is born as ugly as you?”

He released my wrist and lowered his gaze.

“How many nights have you lain awake wishing you had never been born, I wonder?”

“And yet, here I am, so I could not have wished it that hard.”

I bit down on my tongue until I could taste blood.

“Fine. If you will not save her from her fate, then you may as well build her a shelter from whence she can view it.”

“Very well.”

He bowed slightly and withdrew, leaving me to the salty taste of my own turmoil. What sort of friend was he that he could not do this one favour for me – for us? This Prince of Conjurers, this King of Stranglers, who stood quietly by as Sheyda’s terror grew within her. At that moment, I hated him with all my heart.


  1. Oooh, that was a good excerpt! Lots of dangly bits to get a reader curious. :-) Also, I think part of my writing routine is changing the routine. Kind of like changing spots to sit in musical chairs. Keep shufflin'. Keep fooling yourself just to get it out of you. At least that's what I think is happening. Ha!

  2. Busted ;)

    I think you're absolutely right, change itself can be a routine. Whatever gets you through it.