A couple of days ago, I made the decision to take myself off all social networking for six weeks, while I blast into the final twenty thousand words or so of my third novel.  The deadline is mid-March, (publication in November) I still have a scary amount to write, and still have a couple of  plot decisions to make (which is just how I like it, I hasten to add – I’d find it very boring if I knew EXACTLY what was going to happen from the start!), so I’ve announced on Twitter and Facebook, that I’m bowing out for a month or so, so I can at least try to avoid any unnecessary distraction.

Thinking of distractions:  the Christmas holidays end this evening – I’m back to teaching two days a week from Tuesday.  The holidays have, up until this Christmas break, tended to be difficult for me as a writer.  I have two teenage girls, and their constant background jumble of noise, pulsing beats, bickerings and singings-in-the-shower tends to fill the house from the moment they wake.  It’s always been a real struggle to achieve anything much in the writing department, whilst my kids are off school.  I don’t know about you, but I have to have silence, to write – no background music, definitely no quacking TV in the background, no squabbling.

But with the deadline being this close, I had no choice this year – I was just going to have to write every day in the holiday –  so I changed my routine, and started getting up at six, and aiming to make my daily thousand-word wordcount before everyone else woke up.  I wasn’t sure how it would work – how successfully I’d be able to write at that time of day, and how easily I could achieve anything like the word-count … but I needn’t have worried.

It worked brilliantly!  I really enjoyed being a crack-of-dawn writer.

I was at the computer by 6.30 every morning (not Christmas Day or Boxing Day obviously – even I have limits!) and apart from one day, achieved my thousand-word count by about 9.15, just as the first grumbling teen emerged, frowsty and rumpled, to ask if anything exciting was going to happen that day. 

I wonder how other writers cope with busy family times, when deadlines have to be met, and wordcounts achieved alongside the busy day-to-day-ness of life with children.  (As a working mother, I’ve always had a soft spot for Elizabeth Gaskell, who apparently wrote most of her novels up at the kitchen table,  surrounded by her offspring.)

Posted in General | Written By January 6, 2013

10 Comments

  • By Sue Uden, January 7, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

    I am totally with you on the need for silence in the house to be able to concentrate on anything, Gaby. I even find it hard to read with the television on, let alone write. And I so admire your discipline in getting up at the crack of dawn on these dark and chilly mornings to create your own space! Loads of good luck for the last twenty thousand, or so, words :) Sue xx

  • By Caroline Auckland, January 7, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

    Well done. I totally failed over the Christmas holidays and am only now approaching normality. The first morning I started back writing was wonderful and in the afternoon I took myself of to the beach to celebrate and just left the mess and noise behind.

  • By Isabel Rogers, January 7, 2013 @ 5:50 pm

    Great inspiration! Dreaming of the days I can guarantee peace at that hour (3yo currently wakes at 6am and it’s pretty full-on from then). Craving for peace.

  • By Rachel Connor, January 7, 2013 @ 5:52 pm

    Yes, I’m also a crack of dawn writer – though not every day. But I do love that feeling of getting the words ‘in the bag’ by the time the rest of the house gets up. It makes me feel very virtuous, but more importantly I feel like the most important job of the day is done and then any distractions or deviations don’t make me guilty! I’ve also got a teenage daughter so I know what you mean about noise. Very best of luck with completing the novel. I’ll look out for it!

  • By Gaby, January 7, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

    Lovely to hear from you all! Rachel, I’m absolutely with you on the word-count-achieved-no-guilt syndrome! I walk about feeling smug most of the time after a crack-of-dawner! And having had two v wakeful babies (now the noisy teens …) I remember those days so well.

  • By Gaby, January 7, 2013 @ 6:12 pm

    I hope the beach was a suitable inspiration, Caroline! And Sue – let’s get together for another cuppa soon :o)

  • By Laura Wilkinson, January 7, 2013 @ 7:19 pm

    Hi Gaby,

    Good piece. I’ve done the early morning writing thing too, and agree about guilt-free days. As you know my boys are pretty lively – though thankfully very self-contained – but as a definitely-not-a-morning type I find that I prefer to write late at night once the lads are in bed. Now that my eldest is a teenager this is getting harder so I might have to revert to the crack of dawn starts. Wish me luck! And good luck to you for the last 20k. I look forward to reading the novel later in the year. x

  • By Elizabeth Mills, January 19, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

    Ah yes, the old ‘crack of dawn’ method. It works well for me in the summer, but this time of year my bed refuses to let me go. Fortunately, I’m retired, and only have my dear hubby’s interruptions to deal with, so I can work most of the day.

    With your inspiration, Gaby – we met at Crawley library, ooh, eighteen months or so ago – I have completed my second novel, and extensively re-written my first. Having enjoyed no interest from agents, I have self-published one on Amazon Kindle and Createspace, with modest success, and plan to do the same with the other, when I have finishing editing it.

    Good luck with completing the new book – I am bursting to read it.

  • By Gaby, January 19, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

    Great to hear from you Elizabeth – and congratulations on the success of your books. That’s great news! I’m really pleased for you. I’ve been given a date for the new book – 21st November, and my deadline for finishing the first draft draws ever closer. I’ll keep you posted!

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