One of the first things I learned when I started to write remains the most effective. When done with a draft, put it away. Lay down your words to rest for at least a month. Two if you can. Three is better.
When I received editorial notes back in September, my first impulse was to crack on with my work-in-progress. I’d already left it alone for three weeks while she worked her editorial magic. Her key suggestion was to start the story at a different point.
Confession: Even though I know the rules, I started work immediately.
Admission: The rules exist for a reason.
A twist of fate saved me from myself. I’d forgotten a new year pledge to try my hand at stand-up comedy. An email reminder set me right. It never crossed my mind that writing a three-minute stand-up set would be so all-consuming.
My ‘work in progress’ novel went ignored. I found it impossible to switch my writing brain from stand-up to novel mode. One demands a choppy rhythm and economy of words. The jokes come first. The other must flow, draw pictures, tell stories. The jokes come second.
With my comedy dalliance near its end, I’ve decided to try something else new and I’ve signed up for a screenwriting course. A note from my editor suggested I cull minor characters. I feel learning to write for a smaller canvas might force me to focus.
If it’s anything like stand-up, my next book will stay under wraps until 2020. At the earliest.
If you happen to be in Brighton on 4 December, please come along and support the wonderful people with whom I’ve shared three fabulous months of Saturday afternoons.