I’m about to start my third novel. Well, to be honest, I was about to start my third novel two months ago, but since then I’ve been busy down by editing my other novels, speaking at the literary festival and running Five Stop Story.
I may have been procrastinating about starting. You see this time I want to get it right from the beginning. I’ve spent so much of my life editing over the past few years and it’s really not my favourite thing.
This time I have visions about getting it right first time. A world where the first draft just needs wording tweaks rather than an entire restructure and character personality transplants.
So out came all the books on “how to be a writer” which I have accumulated over the years and never actually really read (with hindsight, perhaps a mistake.) But now I have read them and I’m thoroughly confused.
There’s one book called “16 steps to novel writing success” which I’m split between loving and hating. On the one hand it’s great – it gives you 16 steps which almost guarantee success. On the other hand I get the feeling that the kind of book that would come out of this process is not one I’d want to read. It would be – well – formulaic.
The other books are similarly systematic in their approach. And while sometimes I like following a system, when I’m writing it can feel restrictive and take a lot of the fun out of the process.
So I’ve read a lot of books on writing and now I’ve switched from procrastinating about the subject and plot of the novel to procrastinating about which rules I should follow and which I should disobey. Will ignoring one of the 16 steps to success mean my novel will only ever be destined for the slush pile? I hope not.
In the meantime, instead of thinking about writing, maybe, one day, I might actually start writing the book….