Fantastic week, mostly due to going on retreat! I finished the first draft of my fifth novel and secured enough work from the other writers on the retreat to fill up the rest of the summer!
I wrote the next Darkness scene first thing. I hadn’t been looking forward to it, because it felt like I’d been writing quite a lot of filler lately – but when I checked the outline, the next scene was the start of the major climax, so that was a nice surprise!
I also did a ton more submissions.
I did a couple of extra bits of work on two client projects I thought I’d finished the week before.
The crew woke up with ideas for the next Darkness scene, so I wrote some notes for that.
I also did another couple of submissions.
Later, a referral from my wonderful editor, Amie, came through, so I had an email exchange with the author about his requirements.
I slogged on with the next Darkness scene, then did copy edits on another book about tax for the new client I started working with last week.
I also started editing the latest podcast episode.
I planned out my work and writing schedule for July, as I now had enough paid work lined up to fill the whole month!
Then I completed the next Darkness scene, leaving me only twelve to write on retreat, which felt very manageable. Writing the scene this morning was like pulling teeth, though – I knew exactly what was going to happen, but I kept stopping every few hundred words and having to force myself to go back to it each time. I did get it done, though, and I hoped that didn’t augur a tough completion of the first draft over the week of the retreat.
I amended an old GYWO discussion post about the difficulties of getting started for a subscriber feature submission in Writing Magazine.
I made comments on the next chapter of the nature philosophy book, which had come through from the author earlier in the week.
And I also carried on editing the latest podcast episode.
This gave me a nearly clean slate to head off to Devon to finish Darkness and start the new revision of Legacy.
I finished off editing the latest podcast episode, which was another satisfying tick off my to-do list. I went through all my remaining ongoing projects and prioritised them for working on during my time away.
I also managed to fit in the next Darkness scene, which took a bit of the pressure off getting more than one done on the train down to Devon.
I wrote the next Darkness scene on the train, as planned, thus completing my first retreat day’s scheduled writing before I even arrived! I also made notes on the next four scenes, so as to set myself up for success over the first two full days at the retreat.
The subconscious crew were very excited to be getting close to the end of the first draft of Darkness and came up with several good ideas to enhance the next few scenes – before 7am!
I made notes on all the remaining scenes as soon as I got up (after 7am!) so that was a good start to my first full retreat day.
After breakfast, I wrote the next two Darkness scenes, completing them by 10:30am, which felt like an excellent continuation of my so-far very productive retreat week.
I actually completed a further three scenes during the rest of the day, as well as coming up with more ideas for the final few (and realising there were two scenes in the outline I didn’t need), so I felt very satisfied with my progress.
The crew were up and working overtime at 6:30 this morning, clamouring to get to the last few scenes of Darkness and offering up even more great ideas about how to bring it to an exciting conclusion.
So I got up and finished the first draft before breakfast! I was really pleased with how the climax came out, which is normally something I struggle with, especially if it involves fight scenes. The draft ended up being 68,500 words, which was a bit shorter than I intended, but still probably longer than any of my other first drafts, so I decided not to worry about it at this point.
There had been a discussion on the first evening of the retreat about how difficult some of us find it to describe ourselves as ‘writers’ or ‘authors’ and I was set a challenge for when I completed my draft.
So, once I was dressed and ready to face the day, I strode into the kitchen at Stickwick Manor and announced to the room: “I am an author and I have finished my novel!”
I got a great reaction – which is why I really wanted to finish it on retreat with other writers – I just didn’t realise it was going to be before breakfast on day two! I’d planned to do a couple of Darkness scenes each morning and mix it up with my other projects, but the crew got over-excited and just rushed to the end.
So, I’ve now actually written four novels and three novellas, which feels awesome!
The next job was to run the draft through Grammarly to tidy it up a bit and then send it to Dave, Amie and my parents for feedback – though I told all of them I didn’t want anything back before the end of August, because I was keen to take a break from it for a bit.
I agreed terms with one of the other writers on the retreat over breakfast for me to look over her first three chapters and provide both developmental and reader experience feedback. She sent them over before lunch, so I tackled that in the afternoon. It made for a great palate cleanser after completing the first draft of Darkness and embarking on the new revision of Legacy, and I hoped she would find my comments useful enough to want me to give feedback on the whole manuscript (which she did).
But the subconscious crew were keen for me to decide which of my many other novel ideas I was going to work on next…
I squashed the crew a little bit (whilst still expressing my appreciation for their enthusiasm) and set to work on Legacy. The first task was to change the order of the opening few scenes, so as to get to the meat of the story more quickly, and save the background information of both protagonists to spread out over a longer period in between times.
This proved a lot more complicated than I had anticipated…
Later, I did the whole of week three of the mindset course and it made me feel a lot better and more positive about everything!
I also confirmed with all three of the other fiction writers on the retreat that they wanted me to do full edits of their novels in July and August, thus filling up my work schedule for the rest of the summer.
Awesome week all round!