Counting Words and Bookish Things

Lilac typewriter

If you have been reading my blog recently, you will know that I am writing a fiction-ish book. I don’t know if it’s a good book, but I am enjoying the ritual and discipline of writing it each day.

For me, the best way to complete a project is to stick at it and not allow myself any no-work-today loopholes. So I’ve been doing that.

Some days, I have written way, way less than my ideal 1000 words/day. And other days, when I’ve had more time and the story is galloping along, I have written more.

Just committing and writing every day can grow something pretty quickly. Before you know it you can have half your first draft in the bag (or the box in my case… I printed what I’d written, so far, last Friday and put it in a box, in a bid to will myself on!)

In the beginning, there was a sort of elation at being able to get stuff down. Now, it’s more a steely determination, coupled with the odd satisfied surprise, as characters sort themselves out and slowly begin to feel more real.

On the days that I have work, I write between the end of work and the start of dinner time. And on the non-work days, I write whenever I feel like it.

I have a list in my phone’s Notes (which I access from my laptop too) that has random plot points, links and historical references I can come back to later when I am filling the gaps. And I have mapped out a basic structure, which I am often ignoring, so I always have somewhere to go. And as I said, last week I started printing out the pages – at 1.5 line spacing – so I can feel a bit smug about having a decent chunk of physical manuscript in my hand.

I figure when I’m done with draft one I will have the whole thing printed – and then I’ll put it aside for a while before I come back to read it and work on draft two. Or I might not do that. Time. Will. Tell!

Who even knows how the book is going to turn out or if anyone will ever read it. It would be GOOD if it saw the light of day, someday, but I just want to see if I can write a story and bring the people and places to life, to be honest. Imagine if it all works out!

I am thinking that once the tricky first draft – the bare bones – is down, the second draft will bring things to life a little more. I’m interested to see which bits that have crept in will need to be left out, and what I’ve missed along the way. It’s a kind of puzzle, I suppose.

Here’s how it’s grown, in case that’s interesting or motivating:

Day One: 906
Day Two: 1068 (1974)
Day Three: 1031 (3005)
Day Four: 1233  (4238)
Day Five: 1628 (5866)
Day Six: 1320 (7186)
Day Seven: 1035 (8221)
Day Eight:  1146 (9367)
Day Nine: 1279 (10646)
Day Ten: 1021 (11667)
Day Eleven:  709 (12376)
Day Twelve: 261  (12637)
Day Thirteen: 224 (12861)
Day Fourteen: 234 (13095)
Day Fifteen: 337 (13432)
Day Sixteen: 662 (14094)
Day Seventeen: 2185 (16279)
Day Eighteen: 1085 (17364)
Day Nineteen: 1701 (19065)
Day Twenty: 164 (19229)
Day Twenty One: 1173 (20402)
Day Twenty Two: 614 (21016)
Day Twenty Three: 1004 (22020)
Day Twenty Four: 233 (22253)

Not bad for a beginner!

Have you ever wanted to write a novel? What has stopped you from getting on with it? Or maybe you already wrote a story? I’d love to hear about it!

x Pip

Lilac typewriter via El Granero

PS: Some good writing books:
Use Your Words by Catherine Deveny
On Writing by Stephen King
The Writing Book by Kate Grenville
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland
Writing Great Books For Young Adults by Regina Brooks



  1. Dear Pip
    I’m very excited to hear about your novel! I love reading about how people create their books and other forms of artworks. I’m also writing a novel – and this seems like a good time to thank you, because one of your blog posts started me down this path. My novel is called ‘Wild Hibiscus’ – and it’s about the girls who were child internees in Changi prison in WW2. These amazing kids made a secret quilt as a gift. I first found about the Tenko quilt through your blog – and the story has haunted me ever since. These girls – my girls – are quite insistent. They infiltrate my dreams and wake me up if I”m getting their stories or their voices ‘wrong’. Does that happen with your characters?
    Warmly, Carolyn

  2. Congratulations, Pip, what an achievement! I’m a writer, too, and have almost finished revising my children’s novel. I like all your writing books, and would add C. S. Lakin’s books to the mix as well. ‘Writing the heart of your story’ and ‘The 12 pillars of novel construction’ are fabulous. It’s worthwhile signing up to her blog – Live, write, thrive. All her information may be a little overwhelming at the beginning, so it may be better to wait until you’re ready for a second draft. You seem to be doing so well on your own! Good luck with the rest of your book!

  3. Yes!!! But my problem is that i dont know how to fill the spaces … i mean, i have a big blot but i should write more interesting things happening in the middle … and thats hard.

  4. Blows my mind completely. My role in the world is definitely to be the reader of novels, can’t even imagine how to put a story together, I think any story from me would be like a dream, completely random and all over the place with no logic or sense.
    I admire people who can write
    go you.

  5. Thats is so cool. Do you think having non- fiction books under your belt helps?

    I write stuff on a blog sometimes. I suffer from perfectionism so I find it quite liberating to push stuff out there and try not to care if anyone agrees or disagrees (or even reads it). Sometimes I wonder where that need to blah it comes from. The need to say something.

    Your process sounds very agatha christie.

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