Progress is slow right now. Painfully slow. Imagine a glacier on a particularly lazy day, and that’s the speed of development of my second book. But why is this? Why am I having trouble forming an idea into a novel-worthy plot?
Part of the reason has to be time. For 26 Miles to the Moon, I took time off work and literally sat for hours with an open pad and pen, jotting down ideas until something began to form. These days, I have a thing called work getting in the way. Of course I have plenty of free time, too, but I just haven’t devoted enough of it to sort out a plot. I’m also torn between editing 26 Miles – which seems like the past – and setting up the next one, two entirely different activities and mindsets. I can quite happily go out and run a half marathon on a Sunday afternoon, but I haven’t put aside a couple of hours for my future. Perhaps it’s easier for me to run – I want to keep fit and I know exactly what I must do, how long it will take and will definitely achieve something as a result. Writing, on the other hand, could result in the same amount time spent with little reward at the end.
So what I am currently doing is grabbing some think-time on the train, on the walk between work and Kings Cross and the occasional fragmented moment alone. All of which is not very conducive to formulating a sentence, let alone a plot for a book.
It’s also scary to think that I haven’t written any new fiction for nearly two years. That’s really bad for someone who wants to be considered a writer. Do I try and fit in some short stories to keep me fresh? Or will that distract me even more? It’s so much easier when you’ve got a book plan and just have to get on with it!
Perhaps my subconscious is purposely holding me back until I finish 26 Miles. Maybe I need to get that done and sent to agents before I really get started on the new one. I’m getting tired of telling people when they ask me how the book is going that I’m still editing it. I can almost hear them say, “Still? But you’ve been doing it for ages!” I also want to get into the exciting bit – where every day might be the day I hear from someone who wants to take me and my book on; every day might be the day where I nail the plot for the next book. It will also make for a lot more interesting blog, rather than me moan about how things are NOT going.
One tactic I could do is to set myself a deadline, and then broadcast it. Right here and now I could tell you all a date by which I have to finish my edit, then I’d have to stick to it. Why? Aside from not wanting to let you down, I like challenges. At the end of November, I agreed a challenge to complete 500 running miles for 2012. I needed nearly another 100 in December to do that…and I was going on a cruise at the end of it. Ridiculous. Could never be done with a packed Christmas schedule. But I gave it a go, and on 31st December on a treadmill somewhere in the Red Sea my counter clicked over to 500 miles. I wanted it, I focused and I got on and done it. So yes, I can achieve things when I make myself achieve them.
Making a commitment
This is honestly straight out of my thoughts as I write this – it hasn’t been planned. I’m sitting on a train as it rumbles towards Kings Cross and I’m about to commit to a date I don’t know I can achieve. But let’s go for it, Andy. You push yourself at running and broke three records in the last 8 days. Time to push your brain, time to give your fingers a workout and get the words done that need to be done.
There, I’ve said it. You’ve read it. And even if you haven’t read this, I’ll know I’ve written it. I have 43 days to sort it.
And then maybe that second book will start to become a bit easier.