A little help from my friends

Last week I wrote about how I’d fallen into endless rabbit holes of research and wasn’t getting any real writing done. Luckily this week an angel popped up to help, in the form of organising a Zoom write-in. The timing of her invitation couldn’t have been better and I signed up immediately.

Then, yesterday rolled around, and it’s been a long week again already – autumn has arrived early in Ireland this year and the days have been dark and wet, which never helps with anything, especially motivation. My daughter is working in town this week (The world’s biggest festival of Irish music is happening on my doorstep this week, except it began not with a bang but with a total, lashing, washout of a downpour that put a very dampener on the whole thing) and as she was working late last my husband went off to buy some kitchen units to kill time before collecting her, as you do. So I had the evening stretching ahead of me, alone. An early night! Finish my proof-reading! Bliss! Rest and relaxation!

I texted my husband to say ‘eat in town, I’m heading for an early bed’ and breathed a sigh of ‘thank goodness I can go to sleep’ and then his reply pinged in: ‘isn’t your writing thing tonight’. Oops. I rolled my eyes, I’m sure I did, shook off thoughts of early bed, heated up leftover soup, ran out with the dogs, and plonked in front of my computer with minutes to spare.

And then the real bliss kicked in.

The wonderful instigator of the write-in had us all freewrite for two minutes – so now I have a character sketch for a bloke called Ralph who is a main character in my current novel-in-progress.

Score: me 1, bed 0

Only two minutes in and I already felt as if progress was being made.

Then, we wrote in total silence for the next hour. I set myself a target of 1000 words, ignored the part I wanted to write, and forced myself to get on with the next chronological bit instead – which almost worked. I have over 1300 new words, some of which will be okay and some of which will be cut.

Score: me 2, bed 0

An hour and 2 minutes and I feel like I am definitely on a winning streak.

The part I wrote is rough – it always is when I write fast – and it probably won’t go exactly where I intended it to go and will need some tweaking to more it along in time a little, but what it has given is this:

  1. I know how Ivor and Alison met.
  2. I know how long they have known each other.
  3. I know who Alison is.
  4. I know she has a very ugly dog. (I don’t know his name yet, but he’s a weird-looking Jack Russell cross, if you were asking.)
  5. I know that Alison is… No! Spoiler! Not telling you that.
  6. I have 1300 words I didn’t have before.
  7. Some of them will be useful ones.
  8. I got some proper writing done instead of more planning.
  9. I wrote in quiet solidarity with a group of about 20 like-minded people who all carved an hour and two minutes out of their busy, pressure-filled days to do what we all WANT to do: write.

So here’s a glass raised to Chloe Timms, the author of the brilliant 2022 debut novel The Seawomen, for initiating this much-needed group write to get my writing back on track. (You can find out more about The Seawomen here.)

You can also listen to the interview I did with Chloe back in March on her Confessions of a Debut Novelist Podcast here.

Today’s Writing Tip from this debut novelist: Try a virtual write-in with friends. The motivation and support of writing together works for many writers. There is something very rewarding and supportive about working quietly alongside others.

Happy Writing,

Love Jinny x

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