Just Keep Swimming.

I don’t know about you, but the beginning of the book is probably when I’m at my most EEKY. That is totally a word by the way.

It’s understandable, after all, the first few chapters…or even pages can make or break it for a reader. So while I do try my hardest to write a first draft taking Hemmingway’s advice, I can’t help but wobble, and not just because I’ve had a lot of pizza.

Last week I managed to write six thousand words. Which, while is not as many as I wanted to write (10k a week would be good), I am still pleased with. After all, with the exception of a couple of hours on Friday morning, it was all done on the iPad in the kitchen while I was cooking dinner.

My new Bluetooth keyboard has turned into a godsend. I used to use scrivener, but as they still haven’t managed to produce an app, I’ve had to put it to one side, at least until draft 2, or even draft 3.

Instead I am using word and Dropbox. It’s working surprisingly well. I can work on either device whenever I have 10 minutes to sprint and be up-to-date. There’s no messing and it feels good.

It feels good to have a new routine. It feels exciting to feel my fingers clunk on the keyboard and the words fill up the page, the story becoming more than the rough outline I started with.

I love that people love Dottie, I really do. My grumpiest mood can be turned upside down in a second when somebody happens to tell me they really enjoyed a part of the story, or that she made them laugh or think. I’m excited that readers are excited about the next story. What started off as me indulging my own need to write, has ended up with people asking when the next one is coming. This is amazing. However, here’s the thing, and don’t roll your eyes. As exciting as I’m finding writing her new story, I can’t help but thinking,…

What if I let you down?

What if you hate Dottie as she gets into more scrapes? What if she’s tired and boring? The list is endless, and you just have to keep plodding on. THE FIRST DRAFT IS SHIT AIMEE!

This is true. But a book isn’t like a painting or a song. It’s not there in front of you, to listen or see. You have to commit, and what if I don’t produce something you want to commit to?

This is something I can imagine all writers feel. After all, what can be worse than bearing your heart and soul and nobody taking any notice?

So I’ve turned, a little earlier than usual, to a few beta readers. Some who kindly dealt with the full first draft of Mothers Ruined, and a couple who have read the books as a reader, not seeing the mess of drafting.

This has been amazing, they’ve come back with feedback “I’m not sure I’d expect Dottie to do that?” “Would that be happen?” and a couple of suggestions on areas I’ve put >MUST FIND OUT MORE INFO HERE<.

So what next? Well this week I write another 6-10k worth of words. I keep going, and before I know it my book will be a quarter of the way through, then a half, then three quarters. It’s easy when you write it like that!

I will reward myself with cups of tea, and sneaky Reese’s mini cups, and a catch up of Series 5 of The Good Wife while I’m emptying the dishwasher. I will just keep swimming. I hope. Either that or I will go to the gym and stick my head in the sand.

How about you? How do you keep swimming when you’re starting to dawdle?

Muddled Manuscript


  1. Maddy@writingbubble

    Sounds like you’re doing really well – I can’t believe you wrote that much while cooking tea! Dottie is such a loveable character but I can see the sneaky self-doubt demon is trying to undermine your sense of that! Don’t let it.
    I’m currently in full-on dawdle mode – argh! All I’ve written this week is three blog posts, oh and a britmums round up post which seemed to take forever. Sometimes I feel like I’m the world’s slowest writer but really I think it’s all about commitment and I just need to knuckle down and dedicate more of my free time (which is almost entirely in the evenings) to writing rather than eating mini creme eggs and cheese in front of the telly while prodding the lap top aimlessly with my finger. Who cares if I’m tired?! Yeah, so in summary – keeping swimming is about commitment and focus. I just need to find a bit more of that at the mo. Sounds like you’ve got it though. Great post. Thanks for linking up!

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  2. Nicola Young

    You have sand at your gym?!
    Seriously, it sounds like you’re doing great and being able to turn to beta readers is a real advantage. I Don’t know how to use Word on my iPad, but I use iWriter sometimes and then save it to my Dropbox. It’s good to be able to write around your daily routine like you do. I was given a great little book the other day about the writing routines of famous writers. I will put it on FB as it’s very inspiring (and funny too).

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  3. Iona@redpeffer

    I too am totally impressed that you wrote so much whilst making the dinner. There’s no way i could manage that! Banish the self doubt demon (she said, as if it’s that easy), but if you believe in Dottie, you’ll believe in her story too. No matter it’s not the first time we’re hearing about her.
    I’m constantly swimming against a tide of time, self doubt and life in general. But I’m happy if I grab 10 minutes sometimes-to me that’s an achievement. I’m less of a dawdler and more of a masochistic self doubter to be honest, there in lies my issue!

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  4. Morgan Prince

    Sounds like you’re doing fab! I can’t imagine writing while cooking dinner though, the little one interrupting would inevitably end with me writing “what’s for dinner mum?” I think it’s great that you’re carrying on too, it is the only thing we can do really, being writers an all. Whenever I’m struggling to keep going I find a walk outside helps, the fresh air seems to inspire me. ☺️ I hope you have another fab week of progress. Xx

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  5. Mummy Tries

    Sounds like it’s all going swimmingly lovely lady 😉 I really must take the time to read your Dottie books, because I’m very intrigued now.

    6000 words while cooking the kids dinner is amazing. Even if some of them end up on the cutting room floor, it’s great to just write. Word and Dropbox worked well for me, I couldn’t get my head around Scrivener. Watching series five of the Good Wife here too, awesome telly isn’t it.

    Keep on keeping on!!

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  6. Emily Organ

    The title of your post says it all, just keep swimming, just keep swimming. If things go eeky I still try to keep going. I once saw an interview with Mike Myers who said he forced himself to write every single day, even when all he wrote was rubbish on some days (screen plays rather than novels). I think he was probably dealing with the same thing – the expectation of others. I think it’s lovely you have a character and a series – I’m envious! But I can also imagine it’s hard to have the confidence you’re doing the right things with her. I’m sure you are and it sounds like you’re making good progress so far x

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  7. Sophie Lovett

    Just keep swimming is such an important mantra… It’s my best mate’s number one rule for life and whenever the going gets tough I hear her singing it in my head! I totally identify with the wavering in the early stages of a fist draft. It’s the going from having a loose idea of what’s going to happen to actually having to spell it out that gets me, and I think it’s totally natural to want to get it right first time (even though that’s impossible). Scrivener’s daily targets are my best motivator for getting the words down. I wish they would hurry up and produce an app for the iPad… X

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  8. Chrissie (@rantybeast)

    Do not tell me what happens in The Good Wife (even though I accidentally spoilered it for myself by asking the internet a question – doh). I approve of this procrastination activity – The Good Wife, I mean.
    My sticking point is close to the end when I start thinking about new projects, other projects, work, playlists, cleaning, kids, days out
    You need to get that book finished! Keep going. You know you can do it. x

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  9. Natalie

    Yes! I keep having to remind myself that it doesn’t matter if a first draft is shit, because that’s what editing is for. It’s a really hard hurdle to get over though, and often ends up with much procrastination (like reading other people’s blogs…ahem).

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