I’m writing a series of 10 blog posts in which I record my writing process and the progress I’m making on my third novel. This is week three. If you’d like to follow the whole thing, here’s week one and here’s week two 

Tuesday 8th July
Babysitting again this morning from 8 until 1.30, then off to a meeting until 3.30, then reading students’ work for tonight’s short story tutorials. My aim for this week is to do something on the novel every day, but today has just disappeared. However, desperate to meet that modest aim, I managed to scrawl 150 words of a scene when I got back from class tonight. Too tired now to do any more, though, except to write up this entry for today. That’s the other thing I’m finding helpful about writing this blog – even if I’m not working on the novel, I’m committed to doing some writing every day so that I have a record to turn into a blog post at the end of the week. It’s also helping me to get a perspective on what I’m doing each day in terms of what holds up my writing and what helps it. For example, I’ve realised that when I have a commitment later in the day, I find it difficult to get started once it gets within a few hours of that commitment. The solution, obviously, is to start writing earlier! Word count:150

Wednesday 9th July
Spent an hour on Twitter  this morning – didn’t mean to, but there’s so much interesting stuff out there! Also, I felt compelled to tweet about the wonderful book I’ve just finished – We Are Called to Rise, by Laura McBride – highly recommended! Anyway, must work now – mother arriving in a few hours and then it’s going to be difficult to get anything done. Today’s word count: 520
Thursday 10th July
Look what arrived in the post today:

I’d like to keep one of these, but wasn’t sure what to do with the other two copies, but after posting this on my FB page, I now have ‘good cause’ homes for two of them. My mum has arrived from London, staying until Saturday. Normally, I’d take a few days off while she’s here, but I’m really struggling with this novel and feel that I dare not take a day away from it. My line of thinking is that if do something on it every day, even if it’s only reading over what I’ve written and doing a little editing, the story will be bubbling away in my subconscious and I’m more likely to find a way through. So, I’ve explained to mum that I need to work for an hour each day. I’m at the tail end of my hour now, but at least I’ve done something. Chipping away, chipping away…  Word count: 339
Friday 11th July
Again, I have snuck up to my study for an hour and have written a small chunk. It’s not going to set the world on fire, but it’s still moving forward. A good haul of research materials have now arrived and I’m really enjoying flicking through these – Woman’s Realm and Woman’s Weekly from the early 60s and mid-70s, and copies of Spare Rib from the early 80s. 

Fascinating stuff! Today’s word count: 284

Saturday 12thJuly
Went to visit friends for the weekend and managed to do a little work on the train. Usually, I love working on trains because there are no distractions, but on this particular journey we had an extremely annoying train manager who:   welcomed us aboard and asked us to take a moment to read the safety information; reminded us that smoking was not permitted anywhere on the train (including the toilets and vestibules); listed the stops we would be calling at; told us the names of the on-board staff; informed us of the location of the buffet car (“carriage ‘C’ for Charlie, that’s carriage ‘C’ for Charlie…”), listing the items available from said buffet; warned us that if we had purchased “an advance ticket – that’s an advance ticket…” that we should make sure we were on the correct train. In case we hadn’t quite got that, she added, “If your ticket has the word advance printed on it, and you are not on the correct train, you will be required to pay the full fare.” She announced all of this loudly, longly, and after every single sodding stop. Nevertheless, I managed to write the start of a new scene without turning it into a ‘train passenger murders train manager’ story. Word count: 422

Sunday 13th July
The return train journey was blissfully peaceful in comparison to the outward trip, but was considerably longer (travelling for almost 6 hours on three different trains). Tired, at a difficult stage in the novel and perhaps just a little hungover, I struggled to work properly, but managed to squeeze out 360 words which is, as they say here in Sheffield, better than nowt. Word count: 360

Monday 14th July
Frantically busy today catching up with everything that’s fallen behind over the last few days, So lots of emails, lots of reading and annotating students work for short story class tomorrow, and a fair bit of household stuff. I need to be on top of things before heading off on a writing retreat on Wednesday. I’ve not written anything today, but did spend half an hour doing some editing. Word Count: 0

Nice things this week:
Audiobooks arrived! Haven’t listened yet. I wonder what it’ll be like to hear my own words read to me?

New Amazon reviews:
The Secrets We Left Behind: one 4-star, one 3-star 
The Things We Never Said: one 5-star, two 4-star

It’s been an incredibly busy week, and I’ve not done as much on the novel as I’d have liked, but I still made some progress, and have just about hit my modest target of 2000 words (wrote 2075). Total wordcount: 40,436 BUT I am about to cut a section that I absolutely know I won’t use so, here goes…there! Total wordcount  now 37,945. Gutted.

The coming week:
Off on a writing retreat tomorrow until next Tuesday, so am hoping to make seriously good progress this week. There will fewer distractions, no babysitting, no cooking, no shopping! All that can hold me up is the novel itself. I’m at a difficult point, moving to a different character/time period and storyline. So far, I’ve not had much luck with this character. I’m hoping that by focusing closely on her over the next five days, I can make a breakthrough. This may involve simply writing and writing to try and ‘uncover’ the character and story. I’ve tried planning, and that hasn’t worked, so I’m going to try just steaming in. On that basis, I’m going to set a more ambitious target of 10,000 words for this coming week! If I don’t make it, I shall be honest about it, as I have promised to be right through these 10 weeks. Yikes!

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Last week, I posted the first blog in a series of 10 in which I share my writing process over 10 weeks with anyone who’s interested. Here’s week 2:
Tuesday, 1 July
Tuesday is when I publish this blog, so I spent some time last night and this morning tidying up the first post. I’m making notes as I go along, keeping a record of what I’ve done each day, but I still needed to write the introduction and do some editing. Once I’d published the first in the series, I went off to meet a friend for a coffee shop writing session. A fairly brief one today, because I’m teaching this evening and have students’ work to look at. Most of today’s writing was actually rewriting, but I clocked up another 658 words, even after deleting some. I’ve almost reached the point in the narrative where I need to jump forward in time, which will be tricky. On the plus side, as I was rewriting a scene I wrote ages ago, I realised I’d forgotten what happened next. When I read it, it actually made me gasp! Happy with that!  Word count: 658 

Wednesday, 2 July
Bitty day today – admin stuff in the morning, then an enjoyable half an hour so on Twitter before meeting friends for coffee and cake. Did some editing after lunch but didn’t really get into any new writing because I knew I’d have to stop at 3pm for babysitting. Did manage to do some reading, though. Just started We Are Called To Rise, by Laura McBride. I don’t feel too bad about not writing if I feel I am learning from what I read, although this book is so stunning, it just makes me think, why can’t I write like that? 

Did a bit of background work today, too. This is a great tip: go through your notebooks and copy out those one-line notes or snippets such as: ‘A wears cufflinks’; ‘B has asthma’; ‘C reads A’s letters’ onto a separate card/piece of paper and chuck it in a shoebox. When redrafting, just take each card and when you’ve incorporated what’s on it, you can throw the note away. I found this really helpful with my second novel, especially as, when looking through notebooks a while after my first novel was published, I found loads of things I’d intended to include but had forgotten about.  Today’s word count: 0 

Thursday 3 July
Started with emails, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Read over the last scene I worked on – quite a dramatic one – and now realise I need to rewrite the next scene, too. I don’t usually do much rewriting until the first draft is complete, but in this case, I need to rewrite in order to be able to move on. Made a few cuts, then off to a coffee shop for a writing session with two friends. Fairly happy with the day’s work and could have carried on, but it was our book club tonight, so we closed our laptops and went off to the pub, all agreeing that the promise of a glass of wine at the end of the session was a great incentive. Word count: 1519; Glasses of wine: a few
Friday 4th July
Babysitting from 11am until 12 noon tomorrow. Squeezed out a few words before they arrived, then managed to do a bit of editing  while half watching Peppa Pig (it’s ever so good, you know!) but that just reduced the word count again. Still, at least I’ve done something.  Word count: 230
Saturday 5th July
Not much progress today. I’ve got to that point where I’m writing everything the characters do. Does that happen to you? It’s boring, and if I’m bored, the reader will be bored. I need to jump ahead in time, but I also need to know what happens to the characters during that period, and that’s why I’m stuck on a never-ending road. Stared at the screen for ages, then came to the conclusion that perhaps I should just write the next bit of the story in a boring  ‘tell-y’ sort of way (she did this, then she did that, then three years later, this happened and so on).  Might help me learn what happens to the characters in the ‘off-stage’ sections.  Feel very fed up. This is one of those days when the wine count exceeds the word count. Words: 0; Glasses of wine: 3

Sunday 6th July
Feel really stuck today, even when trying to put into place what I decided yesterday. One of my main characters is 15 now, and she and her mum are at a crisis point. I need to jump ahead about ten years, but I just don’t know what happens in those ten years. Went for a walk to think about it. Maybe I should just skip ahead and write scenes that’ll come later in the novel? Popped into a coffee shop, took out my notebook and began writing a very rough draft of a scene that might come later in the novel. Didn’t get very far with it, so word count for today: 360
Monday 7th July
It’s amazing how keeping a daily writing journal for the purposes of this blog can concentrate the mind. Did some editing this morning, then really got stuck in to a scene that comes ten years later. It’s very rough, and there’s a large chunk of ‘info-dumping’, but it has told me something about what may have happened during those ten years. I’m sure I’ll look at this scene tomorrow and decide it’s all dreadful. So maybe I shouldn’t look at it? Perhaps I’ll just try to move on… Word count 1023

Nice things this week:  
Lovely email about The Secrets We Left Behind from a male reader. The first novel went down well with men, so I’m pleased this one is appealing to male readers, too.
New Amazon reviews this week:
The Secrets We Left Behind: No new ones this week, but some nice Twitter comments.
The Things We Never Said: one 3-star review and two 5-stars – particularly chuffed with this one (posted on Goodreads, too)

I didn’t hit my target of 4000 words this week, but wasn’t too far off at 3790. Total word count now: 38, 213 (Didn’t count how many words I deleted, but it would seem to be about 2000. Oh well…)
The coming week:
This is going to be a tough week: babysitting tomorrow (Tuesday), then my mother is visiting Wednesday-Saturday, then we’re staying with friends the Saturday-Sunday. My target this week is very modest – I simply want to make sure I do something on the novel every day. Aiming for maybe 2000 words as well.  Wish me luck!
For more about me and my work, visit my website or ‘like’ my Facebook ‘Writer’ page  (and of course, you can follow me on twitter: @sewelliot )