>Four chapters and counting

>As techniques go it’s a simple one. A no-brainer, you might say. Which makes it perfect for a disorganised clod like me. I’m talking about word count.

I’m on a fairly tight schedule to deliver an 80,000-word manuscript by the beginning of September. The outline’s clearly defined and, since this is a sequel, I’m dealing mostly with continuing characters. So it’s tempting to ease back. What’s the rush? It’ll get done. Maybe I’ll take Douglas Adams’s advice and, instead of writing, have another bath.

To bring myself in line, I’ve pasted a series of milestones at the bottom of the manuscript to remind me how many chapters I need to have written by the end of each week. The cut-off point each week is Sunday evening. Yesterday’s official milestone was chapter four, which I hit mid-afternoon after finding all kinds of excuses not to work on the book on Saturday (well, Andy Murray was playing, wasn’t he?). So I woke up today knowing I was right on schedule.

I told you it was simple. Doesn’t make it easy though. It all comes down to the best bit of writing advice I’ve come across (sorry – I can’t attribute this as I’ve lost the reference):

“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”

Or, in my case, the sofa. Well, you don’t want to make it too hard on yourself, do you?

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