I’ve read a string of comments in the last week about how easy it would be to write a novel if only one lived in Rome. This sort of thing:
You want to write. Really you do. You long to. In fact, if you could run away now to Rome and write full-time with the Italian sunlight streaming through your open balcony doors you’d be in heaven.
Indeed. Well here I am. Rome. Writing. Sunlight. Blah blah blah. But somehow it’s not doing it for me. Procrastination and self-loathing are the order of day. This does, however, mean I have become an expert on how not to write a novel. Here are my top ten tips for literary failure:
1) Write 30,000 words in one huge, manic flurry for NaNoWriMo (2011), lose interest and don’t write anything else for six months.
2) When you finally return to the novel, re-read all 30,000 words and deem every one of them to be utter rubbish. Become extremely disheartened and refuse to open the document entitled ‘novel’ for another three months.
3) Resume writing novel again. Think some of it is not too bad. Start editing what you’ve already written. Get very confused as, for some reason, you’re writing a novel involving time-travel and ancient Eygpt, neither of which you know anything about.
Waste spend a lot of time doing valuable ‘research’ on the net.
4) Remember how important it is to take a break from your work each day so you don’t burn out. Cleaning the fridge, trying out new brownie recipes or searching on Pinterest for pictures of vintage campervans will surely refresh your inspiration.
5) Decide novel needs more conflict. Spend a long amount of time thinking about conflict. Spend a small amount of time writing about conflict.
6) Decide characters need more work. Fill several hours completing character questionnaires. It is vitally important that you know exactly how Bea will react when the plane she’s piloting is plummeting towards a mountain in the Andes as a result of engine failure, thus killing all the passengers and the inhabitants of the village below. Even though she’s only 12.
7) Check your word count every five minutes, just in case it has miraculously doubled since you last looked. Cut and paste research from internet and include this in your word count.
8) Realise that, because you’re living in Rome and it’s incredibly hot at the moment, a short siesta every afternoon is an excellent idea so that when you awake you will be fresh and ready to write.
9) Wake from siesta just in time to collect children from school.
10) Check email, Facebook, text messages, Twitter, and all other forms of social media that you either don’t understand how to use or haven’t even heard of, at least once every ten minutes.
Oh, I forgot one more:
11) Start a blog.