Tuesday 22nd July
Came home from the writing retreat feeling excited and enthused about my novel, more so than I have done in a very long time. I’ve written just over 1500 words today. About 800 words before I left the retreat this morning, the rest on the train on the way back. Now I’m sitting at my desk, I feel slightly worried about the length of my ‘to do’ list, but I’m desperate to keep the momentum. I won’t be able to match last week’s word count (over 15,000) but I’m sure as hell going to meet the target I set myself, which is 7000, so around 1000 words a day. Teaching has finished for the summer, so no lesson preparation today, but it took me a while to edit and publish week four of this series. Too tired to do any more now, but still feel raring to go!
Word count: 1543
Wednesday 23rd July
First day of waking up at home after the retreat. Wrote 200 words before breakfast, just to get the story into my head. I am determined not to lose momentum. Walked the dog without a book or my Kindle in my hand (I know, I know – one of these days I’m going to trip over a tree root, but I can usually read around 30 pages during the average dog walk). Turned out to be a good thing because yet more ideas started popping up. Got back, did emails, coffee and cake with the other half, then out in the afternoon to write with a friend in another coffee shop. Total word count today: 1450

Thursday 24th July
Again, wrote 200 words before breakfast, purely on the basis that it starts me thinking about my characters. Walked the dog and did some Twitter, Facebook and emails, then domestic stuff until lunchtime. I mentioned in a previous post that I’d spent some time summarising the scenes I’d written, and those I knew I wanted to write. I’ve updated that list of scene summaries today, added some, deleted some, and tweaked others. I’m finding this very useful particularly in terms of knowing what I’m going to write next time I sit down at the keyboard. Even if I get stuck at a particular point, I can skip ahead to another scene and come back to the tricky one later. Obviously, these scenes can change as I write them, and some of them may not end up in the novel at all, but it’s all helping me to move forward. I’ve just started using Scrivener (being technically challenged, I can only use it in a very basic way) But I’m finding the ‘virtual corkboard’ very useful in terms of moving things around. Word count: 1256

How Scrivener’s ‘corkboard’ appears on the screen –

Friday 25th July

You may remember that in week one of this series, I mentioned that I had 10,000 words that I wasn’t really counting because that character wasn’t working. Well, I’ve decided I definitely want to lose that character, so here goes ‘cut’! That’s it! She’s gone; Finito; Kaput! It may sound scary to get rid of that many words, but it can be quite liberating. I had a fairly long ‘stuck’ period with The Secrets We Left Behind, and was only able to move on when I identified a problem which meant cutting 20,000 words. Never be afraid to cut! (But always keep what you’ve cut, just in case ….) By lunchtime, I had done the word-cutting but no new words, so headed off to Costa and started a new scene. So, today’s tally: Words cut: 11,203 – but I know that’s a good thing. It’s Friday, I’m feeling good – a glass of fizz, methinks!  Word count: 1257
Saturday 26th July
Lots of thinking, planning and note-making today. I decided to shift the whole thing forward a few years – I can’t for the life of me remember why at the moment, but I know there was a good reason! Anyway, this means changes all the way through. I’m not going to go back and rewrite those sections yet because I want to keep moving forward while I’m on a roll. However, I have gone back and highlighted the sections that need changing.  Did some new writing, though. Word Count: 1094

Sunday 27th July
Wrote before breakfast, walked the dog, spent a couple of hours researching things I can’t tell you about without giving away the plot, then lunch, then more writing. I’m still feeling very excited about this novel and amazed at my output of words. I’m sure many of you fellow writers reading this will think this is no great achievement, but for me, it really is! I’m usually a very slow and steady kind of writer who plods away and have the occasional burst when things are going well. However, that burst never usually lasts for more than a day or two, so this is something special for me. Fingers crossed it lasts! 1804
Monday 28th July
Pretty good writing day again – and so much more productive when I don’t have other commitments. Only non-writing things today were dog walking (which is useful thinking time anyway) and the usual emails, cooking and housey stuff. Making a start before breakfast is definitely helpful for getting into the zone, so I’m going to try and keep that up. Total words today: 1959
 Total for the week: my target for this week was 7000, so I’m pretty pleased with 10,363
Nice things that have happened: Three reader emails this week, two about The Things We Never Said, and one about The Secrets We Left Behind. So lovely to receive these!
Still feeling really ethused about this novel. I can’t wait to get up and get started every morning. There is of course the fear that what I’m writing may be a steaming pile of dung, but we’ll see….
The coming week
I have a few commitments this week, some babysitting, some friends coming for lunch at the weekend, A meeting with some writer friends, and my book club, so pretty busy. But I’m going to set the same target again: 7000 words

New Amazon reviews
The Things We Never Said only got two reviews this week, one 5 star and one 2 star (bummer) but the total number of reviews hit 200!

The Secrets We Left Behind – Five reviews this week – all 5-star! Bingo!

For more about me and my work, visit my website

Or catch up with me on Facebook on my writer’s page or on Twitter @sewelliot


If you’d like to catch up with this series, here are: WEEK 1 WEEK 2 and  WEEK 3

Tuesday 15th July
Busy day. Finished reading and annotating students’ work for short story tutorials tonight. Finished working on the ‘week three’ post, which I published at lunchtime, then edited after spotting errors. Spent time on Twitter and Facebook, replied to emails. I knew I probably wouldn’t get any writing done today because I’m busy finishing things off before I go on a writing retreat tomorrow. Typed up summaries of scenes I’ve already written to take to the retreat with me. I thought having an overview might help me decide how to move forward (if you’ve been following this blog, you’ll  know I’m really struggling at the moment.) Email from my editor, asking if I could send over a para or two about the main storyline so she can discuss it at a meeting next week. Ooh ‘eck. Sent a garbled reply, admitting that I was feeling pretty stuck, then crossed my fingers and headed off to teach the evening class. So impressed with the progress students have made over the last few weeks!  Word count 0
Wednesday 16thJuly
Lovely reassuring email from my editor, offering to meet up and chat through the problems. So pleased – talking it though is bound to be useful. Did some emails, updated my website and Facebook page with events coming up in September and October, then packed for the retreat. By the time I’d arrived and unpacked, there wasn’t much time before dinner, so I just wrote up this account of the day so far. This being my first night, I had dinner with my host, the writer and former Radio 4 newsreader Annie Mckie, who also offers writing support for those staying on the retreat. Annie cooked a lovely vegetarian meal over which we shared a bottle of wine while talking nineteen to the dozen about our novels. A thoroughly entertaining evening, but today’s word count? 0 (keep reading – it gets better!)
Thursday 17thJuly
Started the day with breakfast on the balcony, which overlooks the Forest of Dean.
I’d told Annie last night that I felt sick when I thought about my novel, so this morning, we had a brainstorming session. Annie’s insightful comments and suggestions have set me thinking along a different route. Went for a walk and found ideas kept popping into my head.  I actually feel quite excited about it again. Of course, this could all change by tomorrow, but at the moment, I’m feeling happy about my decision to lose a character and concentrate on the remaining viewpoint characters. The order in which to tell the story is far from clear yet – structure’s always tricky. I plan to do a bit more thinking now (lunchtime), then maybe start writing some of the scenes I’ve planned and see how it feels. 9pm – wrote over 1000 words of notes today, and started a new scene. Word count: 865
Friday 18thJuly
Good chat with Annie this morning about my new ideas. She was positive and encouraging and came up with a few useful suggestions. I‘m feeling I have a clearer idea of the story now. Worked on the balcony in the sunshine. Word count this morning 876, and wrote more after lunch. It’s so hot today I feel like going to sleep, but the ideas are bubbling now – this is the bit I love about being a writer! Went for a walk down to the village, triggering more ideas. The walk back – uphill in blistering heat – was more challenging. Wrote again when I got back, plus notes. After dinner, I stayed out on the balcony making notes, drinking wine and totting up the day’s word count: 3307 – that’s more like it!
Saturday 19thJuly
Spectacular thunderstorms overnight but at least it’s a little cooler this morning.  Got up at 6.30 to make tea and get started, but we’d had a power cut! Fortunately, laptop was charged, so I got cracking and wrote 653 words before breakfast, plus some notes. I feel ridiculously excited and energised. Heavy rain first thing and now there is a lovely mist rising from the trees and frequent rumbles of thunder in the distance.
Power back at lunchtime, then it went again. Arghh! Did some writing with a strange, stick-like object that bleeds blue when you press it on paper…
Word count for the day 4035 – now we’re cooking!
Sunday 20thJuly
After doing so well yesterday, I hit another problem last night. It’s structural mainly – I always find it difficult to know where to start and leave a narrative. A couple of other minor issues, too – writing a novel really is a bit like a Rubik’s cube in that every change you make affects something else. But I went for another walk, and had another long chat with Annie. Think I may have at least partially solved these problems. Knuckled down again, and ended up with a word count of 3034
Monday 21stJuly
I won’t bother going into detail today, but knowing it was my last day here on the retreat, I really got on with it, working in chunks of about 90 minutes with breaks of varying lengths, depending on how tired I was. As it was my last night here, I joined Annie and her husband for dinner – lovely, lovely evening, justified (I reckon) by my word count for today: 4040
Total for week(actually five days, because I didn’t write anything on Tuesday or Wednesday): 15,281

Nice things that have happened this week: see above!
I am incredibly pleased with what I’ve achieved, particularly as I was feeling so bad about the novel this time last week. Of course it’s helped being on a retreat, away from the responsibilities and distractions of home, but it’s also been so useful having brainstorming sessions with Annie, who is incredibly good at stimulating ideas and making insightful suggestions. I’m not out of the woods with this novel yet – I can already see new problems looming – but I feel excited about it again, and that’s a wonderful feeling. If you think you might benefit from a retreat, check out Annie’s website
The coming week
Real-life will no doubt get in the way again, but for the moment at least, I feel I know where I’m going, so I’m going to aim for 7000 words this week.
New Amazon reviews 
The Things We Never Said: Bumper crop! Four 5 star, one 4, one 3 and one 2 star

The Secrets We Left Behind: Two 5 star and one 4 star