Thursday, 6 October 2011

The 100 Day Bestseller

When I was in hospital I decided that I should embark upon my lifelong dream of writing a novel.  After all, you don't get many opportunities to lie around all day with little else to do. Now, when commencing this project I did take into account of my strongly ingrained tendency for procrastination and allowed it some leeway. To maintain a sense of  realism in what I could achieve alongside all my other regular activities, I decided  that the 100 day plan that I was following didn't have to to be carried out on consecutive dates in the calendar. So, now a month on, I'm  working on day six's project analysing a novel and breaking it down into sections as if it were a 'how to' guide.  It's a slow old process and at this rate my bestseller should be completed in about a year and a half, a good five or six times longer than disclipined daily work might achieve.  Even so, this seems to be a thoroughly reasonable timescale for completing a potentially publishable piece of work.

I'm summarising a well crafted novel that I've recently finished,  the absorbing Natural Flights of the Human Mind by Clare Morrall. It's quite wordy at 390 pages long so it's taking a fair amount of time to break down.  In fact, one of my first overall impressions was that the book moved too slowly in the first half. Perhaps there's something to be learnt here that will help me consider 'over wordiness'  when drafting my own story.

What is becoming apparent in the fifty or so pages that I've delved into over the last few days is just how slowly descriptive storytelling rolls along even when action is delivered at a fast pace.  An entire work of fiction can be summed up in just a few sentences. Yet it can take over a page to break down a simple action or thought process and delve into the meaning behind it or draw a picture of the physical environment in which an activity is taking place.  I'm picking up the fundamental principles of how a clever writer interweaves the present and the past introducing snippets of an individual's life that inform their future attitudes and behaviour later on in the story. Let's hope that this painstaking task helps me along the road to seeing my own work in proper good old fashioned print before devices like the Kindle take over completely!


  1. I finished a novel a few years ago (I've half-written loads but only finished one). Finishing it was a really good thing for me but for reasons that seem obvious now, I couldn't get an agent interested in it and that pretty much killed my interest in writing another one (well, finishing the two I was already writing around that time).

    I've decided to get back onto the bandwagon with NaNoWriMo this year - bang out 50,000 words (which is, admittedly, a bit short for a novel) in a month, a story from start-to-finish. It's not going to be great quality prose at that speed but that's kinda the point - to write without obsessing about quality and I'm hoping it gets me writing at length/finishing things again. It might be a first draft of something I work on further, it might just be a project to get some ideas off my mind - either way, I'm hoping it'll be fun :)

  2. I'm in awe of anyone who even finishes a novel without taking into account the quality of the content. So well done. I wish you success in the month long writing contest but don't think it's one for me to enter. I'll just keep plodding with my 100 days template x

  3. Hi I just came across your blog and was really moved by the amount of work you put into it, how beautiful. It makes such a lovely change to read a piece of work with substance. Myself I am a Mindfulness practitioner and so your approach really resonates with me.
    I would love to follow your work and hope you will check out my blog thanks Julie

  4. Hi Julie, I am so pleased that you have found me and have kind words to say about my blog! I've looked around your site and what you're teaching looks exciting. I can vouch for the fact that altered thinking brought about by mindfulness practice and an appreciation of the theory behind it has had a transformative effect on my own life. x