Archive for December, 2014

The nocturnal writer

I can’t stop writing for Christmas. Not just because I have a huge number of deadlines (I do! I have a picture book text and a collection of shapeshifter stories due in January, and a collection of Viking stories due in February, and an entire novel to write before the summer) but because once I am deep into a story, I have to keep writing it.

I have to live inside a story, keep it at the front of my head, move it forward every day. And to do that properly I can’t take a break from it. Days off here and there are fine. But not a three week break over Christmas. Picking it all back up in January once the schools are back would be like starting the book all over again, trying to remember the feel and the excitement and the characters’ voices and the rules of that particular magical world, after a prolonged holiday from it. I have returned to novels after a long break before, but it’s time-consuming getting back into the story and I don’t have time to waste this coming year.

Therefore, I can’t stop writing for Christmas.

But everyone else in my family is on now holiday.

So I’m becoming a nocturnal writer.

I try to do most of my writing during the day, during daylight hours. Full writing days at home if I can manage it, or nice big chunks of writing when I’m travelling to do author events. But I’ve always written at night as well. First Aid for Fairiesfabled beast chronicles First Aid was mostly written at night when my kids were asleep. But they were much younger then, so they were asleep by about 8 o’clock at night. Now, writing at night often means writing at midnight. I still do that, a couple of times a week, to meet deadlines, and to keep the stories alive in my head.

But if I want to meet these early 2015 deadlines and if I want to keep this novel moving forward at pace (one of my main characters has just revealed a very dark secret, and I want to keep that tension building!) then I’m going to have to become a truly nocturnal writer.

I’m going to stay up later than everyone else each night, and write for at least an hour. That’s probably when I’ll do the final research and final edits for the manuscripts which are due to be submitted next month. And I’m going to set my alarm very early every dark cold morning, and get up and write for a couple of hours before anyone else in the house is awake. That’s definitely when I’ll keep the novel rattling on.

And of course, during the day, I’ll be a mum. Delivering Christmas cards, doing last minute shopping, wrapping Christmas presents, baking, visiting family and friends, playing card games, going for walks, having fun with my kids. Maybe even lying on the couch reading the books I hope I’m going to find under the tree…

But at night and in the morning, I’ll be writing. I have to, and I want to. Because the stories don’t ever seem to sleep!

(And, yes, I do know that I need to sleep. But 5 or 6 hours a night is usually enough for me…)

PS – I’ve just realised that sounds like I’m not actually going to take a break at all! Which would be daft and unhealthy and not help my creative process in the slightest. I am taking a break over Christmas. Because the most tiring thing I do as a writer is not writing, it’s travelling all over the country to talk to kids about stories. (I love it, but it can be tiring!) And I’m not doing that for the next few weeks. Just time with my family during the day and time with my stories at night. That will feel like a holiday. Hope you all have a lovely relaxing break too!