When a post like this can perhaps be up to half of my daily Nanowrimo (is there a better word? NNWM from now on) quota, I’m left wondering if I should be writing longer or posting less.

I definitely feel I should be thinking more when I’m not writing, and thinking less when I am – something which doing this ongoing journal has helped with no end.

After last night’s first stint (maybe an hour and a half) the novel is like a plant, sending out roots in several different directions, discovering places with growth potential, discovering places which stunt progress.

Names are still a trouble – my main character doesn’t have one, and the only other two active characters at this point have two or three each, depending on how I’m feeling.

That said, the thinking I have been doing about it, the planning and bio-ing and chatting with my wife has meant all the other characters have a little of their own personality. Except the central figure.

I already feel it’s the wife who is closest to my own character, the daughter is a stranger but an interesting one, the father another intriguing figure who, once I stopped trying to write him and instead let him be written, I’m not so sure about.

The grandfather I haven’t reached yet, and his wife is almost a cipher. The son of the son hasn’t been born. The mother, mentioned briefly but then almost erased from the collective memories, is a challenge that I haven’t thought through for now.

It would help massively to lay out this stuff, which is effectively where this post has led to, and I’ve started slowly to get a sense of exactly what The Book intended for these exercises – or at least, what one of their intended purposes might be.

As I put word after word and tried to ignore the ones which grated slightly or needed replacing with something more appropriate, again much like I’ve been doing over the last eight months or so, I felt myself growing closer to the story, but not the ‘truth’.

Truth is a grandiose word in this situation, but the other word, ‘message’, doesn’t sit right for me either. I suppose I’m just really talking about the scope and the bigger picture I’m trying to paint. I’ve often got lost in the detail in what I’ve done, and this is no different.

There’s a program called Scrivener which looks helpful, though it isn’t free and comes with the unfortunate urge to buy a Mac in order to experience the full concept on its native turf.

But £25 isn’t a huge amount. It’s a hell of a lot more convenient and less messy than one alternative – sticking up post its around the studio, a wipeboard to scrawl over, a scrap book of ideas.

A good birthday present, perhaps. I’d hope it would work well enough to make it worth enough, but that’s more down to me and using it in a worthwhile way – after all, it’s not going to write things for me.

For once, I’ve actually got a writing project to warm up for, and removing all the obstacles by emptying my chaff-brain, or exploring them and detailing them and attempting to understand them so I can go home and get started, is a perfect way to use this blog.

I only know that I don’t want to rush, but I don’t want it to drag. I don’t want to be too vague and lose the detail, but I don’t want to get so caught up in the size of a room that I forget the point.

The only way has to be to keep talking about it, to keep thinking about it, and to keep working it out, page by page, day by day and post by post until I reach the magic number. When everything can begin for real.

About Ben Catley-Richardson

Writer, reader, husband. Father!
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