The summer holidays are upon us. You can tell that because the sun has suddenly disappeared and the sky is all leaden clouds and weird yellow light, and my kitchen is liberally smeared with jam and filled with the sound of CITV warring with Jason Derulo. In spite of all that it feels great to be freed from the tyranny of the school run and the need to iron uniform, although this year the 'end of term' feeling of relief is tempered by the fact that, for the first time, I’m embarking on the summer holidays with an unfinished book all spread out messily in my head. Back in May, in a moment of optimistic delusion after I’d submitted the last book, I pledged to have this one finished by the time the kids broke up from school, to a) make up some lost time, and b) allow me to morph into Doris Day Mummy for the summer. Back in reality, where it takes me an average of 5 months to write a book, I’m a woman in need of a Strategy.
Luckily, thanks to my writing guru Michelle Styles I have one...
Generally I’m an all or nothing person – a ‘shut myself away and turn into a hero-obsessed, sleep-deprived, what-day-is-it?’ type person, or someone who thinks “oh well, only three more hours until I need to make a start on dinner, so there’s no point in switching the computer on today" so writing during the holidays was always going to be tricky. A while ago Michelle blogged about a method she was experimenting with, of writing in word-chunks. She’d found that 750 words at a time worked for her, but suggested I try a smaller number, like 250. And because she is wise and wonderful and I was prepared to give anything a go, I did.
And ladies, so far I have to report that it’s working like a charm. I wake up, write 250 words (which takes about twenty minutes) Go get breakfast, while my mind ticks over the book not the squalor in the kitchen, then go write another 250. Have a shower, while dialogue and details go round in my head, and write another 250, and so on whenever I can through the day. I’m hardly breaking any writing speed records, but I’m not completely neglecting the little darlings either and am keeping the book fresh in my head and moving on the page. Of course, we’re only on Day 4, and I still have the challenge of keeping it up while packing for a week’s camping in France, dealing with the washing when we get back, getting ready for the next trip (which involves both camping and fancy dress costumes) and simultaneously providing amusement (well, providing food and clean clothes anyway) for the children. (Deep yogic breathing and smile of forced serenity....) But I think it might just keep me sane.
Is anyone else juggling the roles of writer and Person I.C.O Junior Entertainment this summer? How are you managing, and do you fancy giving the 250 word challenge a go? Let me know!