"How's the writing going?" someone asked the other day.
"Fine," I answered. "It's good."
A clear gaze, a pause; they were waiting for more.
"Actually," I said, "I'm not writing at the moment. I'm planning."
Why did this statement make me feel so guilty? Probably because, as some of you will know, I'm not a great planner when it comes to writing. Also probably because I had an idea that the person who had asked me the initial question now had a vision of me making copious notes, with charts and chapter breakdowns etc. etc. Um no, it's not been like that at all! My planning has mostly been in my head whilst preparing for Christmas, moving furniture to accommodate the decorators and trying not to go into a major meltdown as water leaked from the shower and through the spotlights in the kitchen ceiling.
In the past I have tried to plan my books in detail and it really didn't work. It was the closest I came to writer's block. But recently I finished an adult novel which has taken me a couple of years to write in between other projects. Every time I returned to the romantic novel I had to go right back to the beginning in order to immerse myself in the story. It was time consuming and complicated. There's got to be an easier way than this for the next book I thought. So I've given myself permission for extra thinking time. It's easy to feel that if you're not writing you're not working but when advising other writers I always extol the value of thinking time. It's been a question of practising what I preach and then some.
Back at the beginning of November I resolved not to begin writing my next book until the New Year. Instead I am making some notes, writing a few vignettes, building up my characters in my head, asking myself the questions I mentioned in my blog from a few weeks back and writing about the story rather than plunging into the story itself. I'm surprised at how well it is working. I'm actually itching to begin which is a really good sign. The theory is that when the time comes to sit down and actually write I'll be able to crack on with this next book at a pretty good pace and get a first draft written in a handful of months. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won't! I'll keep you posted but whatever the outcome it won't be wasted. I'm convinced that it's good to try different ways of working from time to time.
Thank-you for to everyone who has taken the time to read this blog over the last year. Have a very Happy Christmas and I send you best wishes for 2015.