Keeping flexible

There are larks and there are owls in this world and that’s certainly the case with writers. The more romantic images attach to nocturnal writers – a whisky tumbler, curling cigarette smoke, professional dishevelment, darkness beyond the window and perhaps within the soul. But I’m definitely a morning writer, so we’ll have to make do with coffee, birdsong and the inspiration of a new day.

I was clear when I started writing that I didn’t want to lock myself into fixed routines, so the day is always flexible. Once a book’s underway, it’s with me all the time and I can be happily ironing out a plot wrinkle while standing in the queue at the supermarket checkout.

Keeping pace with characters

I don’t set goals for a daily word count or for hours put in. It seems to me writing’s best done instinctively. There’s no need to worry about how fast or slow you may be going. The challenges of particular phases of the book dictate the pace of progress. Most of the time I’m racing to catch up with my characters, who like to regard themselves as independent of me, even if I’m responsible for the difficulties they get into.

They have my full attention, at least until six o’clock, when it’s time to relax and unwind, but not with a novel. I don’t seem to want to read fiction after a day writing it. One book at a time is quite enough for me!

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