Sunday, 17 October 2010

Writing Research - starting and stopping

Writing a book takes time. Writing a blog takes time. Writing a blog does not take a fraction of the time it takes to write a book. Nevertheless, it takes time. And every minute I can spare I need to concentrate on my manuscript. So even an hour spent writing a blog is an hour not spent 'writing'.

So I hope this explains why I haven’t written a blog for nearly three weeks now. But I have decided that if I am going to write a blog I should do it regularly or not at all. So here I am. And this blog is in the form of a reminder to myself.

I have to watch myself with my writing: my trouble has been getting sidelined – not only by blogs – by research. Writing my book might go like this:
1. Research
2. Synopsis
3. Draft
4. Another draft
5. Which brings up the need for more research
4. Another draft
6. Which touches on things not researched. More research
7. Rejigging draft
8 Complete reorganization of chapters
9 Which brings up the need to bridge and things not researched. More research

And when the research is fascinating, illuminating or even bizarre it is such fun that far too much time is spent on it instead of writing. I have now had to make rules for myself. Here is the latest: finish writing the last five chapters that are only sketched. Then one more complete read through what I’ve done - making corrections and refining as I go. And only then will I check any more facts which may bring up the need for a little more research.

I have set myself a time limit to finish whatever. This is really necessary because getting the ms ready to send out takes quite a lot of time and waiting for it to come back takes even longer. The final draft needs to be printed without any mistakes, it must look the biz, and as at the moment I am between agents (in other words I don’t have one to ‘sell it’ for me) it needs a good letter with it.

But time spent researching is not my only problem. My little study is now so packed with books, drafts, print outs, photographs, pens, paper, filing, files, piles, piles of piles that I have to ease myself in between it all to sit at my computer. I know I should tidy up, but tidying up takes time, and it’s time I begrudge spending when I could be writing.

And then there are those other things that keep getting in the way. Work and jobs. Earning a crust and making the bread: other responsibilities. It must be absolute luxury and a joy to be able to work nine to five writing. No distractions, no demands, just tap, tap, tap until it’s done. But to do that one needs a good advance. And that is not going to happen this time round so I better just get stuck in and stop researching.


PS I have often been told by aspiring novelists that they have trouble ‘starting’. But I think there is a simple remedy to this. Just do it. Write down any old thing. Content is immaterial at this point. After you’ve written a few pages you’ve started. Simples! What is more difficult is knowing when to stop!


Hope said...

You have hit the nail right on the head.Good tips for amateurs(wannabe writers)like me.

Carla said...

"Earning a crust and making the bread" - a good way of putting it :-) Writing, and research, has to fit in among everything else in life. Good luck!