Hot House Novel

© africa,
© africa,

Some manuscripts need the hot house treatment. My second novel is a prime candidate. I’ve taken the usual slowly-but-surely approach on this book but somewhere along the line the story stopped growing. Now I want to try writing fast.

Today I came across some great advice on writing fast from author Kelly Creighton. The advantage of rapidly firing the words onto the page is that the subconscious takes over, Creighton says. You are less likely to have plot holes because you are immersed in the story. I’ve experienced this flow in the past and now I’d like to try to tap into ‘the force’ again.

Creighton’s advice is prompted by the upcoming annual writing challenge NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – in which participants worldwide try to write a complete novel from scratch in the month of November, fueled by massive solidarity on social media.

I’ve set myself an October deadline, linked to a competition. I started the year with a modicum of competition success when my first novel was longlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize. That hasn’t translated into a breakthrough on the submissions front but I have had some encouraging responses. The latest news on that novel is that I have handed it over to a professional editing service. The book still raises too many questions for me and I’m hoping to get some answers from this edit.

In the meantime, the second novel can have its moment. I wrote the opening to the book two years ago during an extended visit to Dublin and the word count has crept up in increments since then. I’m happy with the ‘big idea’ behind this children’s novel, which grew from a rather sinister radio play I wrote. I believe it satisfies the “interesting, unique and universal” criteria, and I hope readers will one day feel the same.

Because I keep letting other writing commitments get in the way, I’ve come to the conclusion that forced productivity is the only way for this story. By hook or by crook I will finish the first draft this month. That means writing every day but I should be doing that anyway. I’m off to flying start and hope to be able to type THE END at the end of the month.

These kinds of against-the-clock challenges are only meant to help writers achieve a first draft, and anything written at speed is likely to need a lot of reworking. No matter. I’d rather be reworking a rough first draft than have an unfinished manuscript humming ‘you don’t send me flowers anymore’ in my head.

The final words of inspiration come from Kelly Creighton, debut author of the psychological thriller The Bones of It: “In writing, nothing is ever a waste of your time.”

Is anyone considering taking part in NaNoWriMo?

What was your most productive writing time?

9 thoughts on “Hot House Novel

  1. Congratulations, Clare, on your Exeter novel prize listing. I was very suspicious of fast writing and National Novel Writing Month until I tried it last year. I needed more than a month to get my first draft down, but I think the technique still worked and wrote about it here:
    I’m looking forward to going back to that draft very soon to see if I can kick it into a better shape.
    The notion of writing never being wasted is one I struggle with, but I think it’s true. The esteemed Emma Darwin often says the same thing.
    Now, stop reading and get back to your writing!

    1. Thank you Anne. I didn’t realise you had tried NaNoWriMo last year, and pretty successfully by the sounds of it.
      I started my hot house writing on Monday and am pleased with the word count so far (5,000). Next I must read Naomi Frisby’s advice mentioned in your post to and see what word count I actually produce in an hour. Anything to keep the motivation going.

  2. I admire you even attempting NaMoWriMo, and setting yourself deadlines at all. But I do agree that it’s the best way to keep the work moving. I’ve tried setting myself weekly word counts to meet, but only manage it if I make the target ludicrously low.

    1. Thanks Jane, this is a first for me but I’m amazed at how well it’s going. 10,000 words in eight days and it may not all be beautiful writing but the story is come along beautifully. Happy days!

      1. Well done you! I hope you can keep up the rhythm. My max has been 7k in a week, but I can’t keep that rate up. If I write 500 words a day I’m satisfied.

  3. Congratulations on being longlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize and also for having the courage to do NaNoWriMo. I would love to be able to write anything fast, even a shitty first draft. I think I’m fated to be slow. I’m even a slow eater. But I do understand the reasoning behind trying to write fast. I have to keep reminding myself to write faster and not to revise until later. Thanks for the small kick in the pants.

    1. Thank you Nicki. That longlisting was back in January but I’m still dining out on it! We’ve all got our own style but sometimes it’s good to shake things up.

Leave a Reply