If you’ve read last week’s post, you’ll know that my aim this week is for time spent on the novel rather than a word count, because there’s lots of editing/rewriting to do now.
Tuesday 5th August
Spent Tuesday wandering round York, could it be a setting? It’s great if you can make a place really work for your novel in terms of theme or plot, but what’s more important is that the reader can visualise or even, if it’s a real place, recognise it. It’s important to remember that what we as writers notice about a place may be different to what the characters notice. If my characters have lived in York all their lives, they’re unlikely to notice the minster in detail and they probably won’t go on the ghost walk. One of my characters might notice a particular street name, though. Or she might notice her surroundings as she sits quietly looking at the river. I make a mental note to notice sounds and smells, because these can really help to create a sense of place. Time spent: I don’t think today really counts!
Wednesday 6th August
Back from York so lots of emails to catch up on. Published the blog today (usually Tuesdays, but trip to York made it a day late). So, what with that, the Tweeting and Facebooking, then babysitting at 3.30, there wasn’t time to really get stuck in. But I did manage to print out what I’m now preferring to as the ‘Zero draft’. It’s not quite complete in that I haven’t decided on the ending, but this is the basic outline of the story. It’ll need a lot of rewriting because it’s taken me most of this draft to get to know the characters properly and to learn what the story is actually about. Now I know the characters and I’m in story, I’m going to write it properly. Started reading through it tonight. Oh dear, a lot of work, I think… Time spent: one hour
Thursday 7th August
Had some admin stuff to do today, also hairdressers (believe me, not something that can wait any longer!) But have been itching to get on with the rewrites. This is my absolute favourite part of writing a novel, because I know that the redrafting I’m doing now is going to start making the whole thing come together, even if it still needs a lot more work at the end of this draft. Started off with a session in Costa this morning – a Sicilian lemon muffin and a large Americano to get me in the mood. Then home later for a bit of Tweeting and admin, then solid rewriting. Time spent: 4.5 hours
Friday 8th August
Finished rewriting one scene and started completely reworking another. Allowed myself 30 min on Twitter first thing, then emails, then worked on the novel from 10.45 – 12.45, then lunch, then worked from 1.30 – 6.30 pretty solidly. Time spent: 7 hours 
Saturday 9th August
Still rewriting the scene I started working on yesterday – it’s almost become a completely a new scene and is taking me ages. I mention a real event in this scene, so I’m constantly popping back and forth to Google to make sure I’ve got the facts right. Using this real event needs to do more in the story than just help to show the period I’m writing in, so I need to make sure it’s relevant to what the character is going through at the time. Worked all morning, but then knocked off at lunchtime for boozy lunch with a friend. Time spent: 3 hours
 Sunday 10th  August
STILL working on that same scene. Think I’ve got it licked now, though. So I’m moving onto the next scene, which is massively affected by the previous one, and so again, is more or less a complete rewrite. This is hard work, but it’s the bit I most enjoy about writing – I know my characters and I know the story, so the rewriting is much more coherent than the original stuff that I spewed out without really knowing where I was going. As I’m writing this, there is torrential rain outside and howling winds. There is every chance that this weather will make it into the next scene! This being Sunday, I decided to start late (10am) to allow myself a little more reading time – I’m finally reading To Kill a Mockingbird. Then a break at 11.30 to go out with my other half for coffee and cake. Back at my desk at 1pm, but only worked for another couple of hours.
Time spent: 4.5 hours, which includes an hour working on the synopsis – a constantly changing document!
Monday 11th August
 Fairly straightforward day – half an hour on Twitter in the morning and another half an hour at lunchtime, but apart from that, steadily working my way through rewriting these scenes. Working on a scene that needs a fairly substantial rewrite, but really struggling to get it to do what I want it to do, so in the end, I decided to move on and come back to this tricky one later. Time spent today: 7.5 hours

I’ve changed my aim for the week from a word count target to a ‘time spent on the novel’ target. My aim, I can see, was a fairly modest 15 hours, but I’ve actually worked for almost double that amount of time – a total of 27.5 hours, mainly spent redrafting. I’m happy with that.

Nice things this week:
Lots of very lovely things happened this week, but nothing specifically writing-related. Ooh, except, perhaps, that The Secrets We Left Behind is on a Kindle monthly deal at £1.99, so that might bring in a few new readers, which is always nice.

The coming week:
Let’s up the anti-a bit – I aim to spend 30 hours on the novel this week.

New Amazon reviews:
The Secrets We Left Behind: Three new ones – one 3-star, one 4-star, one 5-star
The Things We Never Said: Also three new ones – two 4-star, one 5-star

To find out more about me and my work, visit My website Or you can ‘like’ my My Facebook page or follow me on twitter, @sewelliot


Apologies for posting a day late this week – just got back from York (see entry for Monday 4th August!) If you’d like to see the first five posts in this series, just check out the archives.
Tuesday 29th July
As always, most of Tuesday morning is taken up with editing and publishing the blog post, then tweeting about it. Got some writing done as well, though, but I can feel things slowing down a little, not because I’m stuck again (thank God!) but because I’m reaching the stage where I need to make more decisions before I can decide which direction the next few scenes will take. Been thinking about titles, and actually have a few ideas, which is a bit of a revelation – I can never think of titles! Monthly meeting with three fellow writers this evening to share wine, nibbles and work in progress. Positive feedback on my scenes, a couple of stumbling blocks pointed out, and some good suggestions on how to overcome them. Useful and enjoyable evening! Word count: 1104
Wednesday, 30 July
Sat down to write this morning and realised I can’t keep steaming ahead without doing a bit more work on scenes I’ve already written. I have one chunk that isn’t really scenes at all at the moment, it’s just a lot of ‘telling’; also I have a biggish scene that I know is in the wrong order, and which probably needs to be rearranged, broken down into two scenes and then rewritten. I am also becoming more aware of things I need to feed through the novel so that they make more sense later. Spent some time making a ‘to do’ list for the novel. This is not as exciting as letting the story pour out, but I do have a sense of moving forward. Babysitting from about 4pm, so it’ll be a short day today. Word count: zero
Thursday 31st July
Babysitting until 10 o’clock this morning, so a late start. Why is it when I should really be knuckling down, it takes me so much longer to get into it? Spent ages faffing about on Twitter and Facebook, enjoyable, but it wasn’t getting the novel written! Wrote a new (possible) prologue, and did a little editing on one of the scenes. Word count today: 778
Friday 1st August
Definitely slowing down now, because I’ve got the bulk of the main story down, so I now need to go back and expand some scenes, trim others and strengthen some of the themes that have risen to the surface as I’ve been writing. There’s also quite a bit of telling rather than showing as there always is in an early draft, so I need to address that, too. Did some editing – I’m probably cutting as much as I’m writing at the moment – and did some work on a scene that needs expanding and made a few notes. Word count: 946
Saturday 2nd August
I knew it would be difficult to write today, because we have friends coming tomorrow, so lots of shopping and cooking, but I made sure I wrote something. Grabbed the laptop when I was still half asleep and wrote 500 words. I didn’t have a particular scene in mind, but I know there’s a time in the character’s life that I want to address, so I just started at a point where I know she has some ‘issues’. This scene may make it to the final novel, it may not, but in my experience, some of the best scenes develop from something which has started as an uncertain piece of writing, maybe even something you’ve written just to get you going and if it ends up being a good scene, it feels like a real bonus, because it’s something you haven’t actually planned. Word count today: 505
Sunday, 3rd August
Lovely friends over today. Nice food, great conversation and rather a lot of daytime alcohol. Wrote another 500 or so words after they’d gone, but I’m not holding out much hope as to the quality! Word count:  534
Monday, 4th August
Off to York for a couple of days. This little trip is partly for pleasure, but also because I’m thinking of setting part of the novel there. So far, what I’ve written could be taking place anywhere, but a sense of place is as important to me as a writer as it is as reader. I prefer to write about real places, and I’ve learned that the only way to do this effectively is to go there, look at it, get a feel for it – and take notes! The sense of Sheffield in an early draft of The Secrets We Left Behind didn’t come over strongly enough because I’d made the mistake of thinking that because I live here, I could write the town centre from memory – but I missed things, because living here makes me take them for granted. So before redrafting, I went to the town centre and walked around, observing, taking photographs and making notes. As a result, the sense of place in the finished novel was much stronger, and several readers who live in Sheffield have commented on how vivid and recognisable the location is. Wandered around York, had a look at the river, took some pics and made a few notes, (York is VERY busy at the moment). Also did some writing on the train journey here. Word count: 1367

Didn’t make my target of 7000, but I feel okay about this because it was largely because of a busy week rather than being stuck, and also because of the stage that I’m at – I’m having to think of the finer points now. 5234
Nice things this week:  
Delighted to receive two more reader emails, both about The Secrets We Left Behind, although one reader said she’d enjoyed The Things We Never Said, as well, and that my books had got her back into reading. How lovely!
The coming week
I think I need to set a different sort of target this week, so rather than a word count target, I’m going to go for a “time spent working on the novel” target of three hours a day on at least five days. Nor sure if I mentioned this before, but I’ve been referring to my current draft as a ‘first draft’, but it’s probably more accurate to call it a ‘zero draft’; it’s the draft where I’m still telling myself the story; the draft before the first draft. Happily, I think I’m almost ready to start writing the actual first draft, the one I’ll share with my agent and editor. 

New Amazon reviews

The Secrets We Left Behind: very pleased – six new reviews, four 5-star and two 4-star!

The Things We Never Said: Only one, but it was a 4-star with the heading, ‘a challenging topic, beautifully written about’. So that’s okay.
To find out more about me and my work, visit my website