Monday, 9 July 2018

Second Time Around
I apologise to all of you for the lack of posts throughout June. Apart from a week's holiday on the beautiful island of Madeira, I have no real excuse other than to say I've been writing . . . a lot! As some of you will know, the first draft of novel number two has been taking me a long time so I set myself a deadline of getting it written before the RNA Conference and today at 5.41pm, I wrote those magic words 'THE END'

Let me introduce you to my latest 'book':

106,124 words

50 chapters

357 pages

But, of course, all that will change. This one needs lots of editing. I shall put it away now, out of sight, and leave it until I return from Leeds. In spite of knowing that the real, hard work will start then, I still feel a sense of achievement today. Yay!

Perhaps, it's because I know more about the craft of writing - I hope so, anyway! - and am further along my writing journey, I've found this second book harder to write. I was more critical with myself along the way. Although I had the saying 'Don't get it right, get it written' firmly embedded in my brain, it wasn't always easy to do. I have been writing the novel at the same time as submitting novel number one. The rejections for that have been coming through but lately they have contained lots of constructive advice and helpful observations. These have been very encouraging and welcome but, when they have suggested what was needed for an acceptance, I've stopped and questioned whether I've got it right in this second novel. I had to tell myself to keep writing and leave suggestions about how to improve until the editing stage. But I've done it and I can now get on with packing for the Conference! I'm looking forward to meeting up with many of you again next weekend in Leeds.

In June, I attended an excellent editing course run by Alison May in Birmingham. I highly recommend it if you are at the same stage as me. I shall return eager to put into practice what I learned. I've stocked up with post-its and highlighter pens! 

Watch this space and I'll tell you how I get on! 

Thank you for reading. How do you move from first draft to first edit? I'd love to hear if you have any tips. Thanks.

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.


  1. Wow! Jan, you are an inspiration & a breath of fresh air. I can think of one or two writers with publication on their collective mind who could take a leaf out of your book. Sincere congratulations on finishing Whispering Olives! Your dedication & hard work will surely pay dividends & you will get the publishing deal you deserve.

    I suspect the reason this story has taken so long is because you have worked so hard. And tbh - has it been that long? It took me over two years to write Ghostbird!

    "I've found this second book harder to write. I was more critical with myself along the way." Yes! The second book any of us write is said to be the tricky one. Writing books is like living life - the longer we do it, the more we learn & the better we get. And we never stop learning.

    As for me - & your question - I have a different method. (I think you already know this about me!) As a confirmed "edit as I go" writer I haven't bought into the "Don't get it right, get it written" way of working. Which is not to say it isn't the 'right' way. It clearly is for you (& a myriad other writers) so keep doing what works! I have such a detailed outline before I begin a story, I find 'random writing' works well for me. I create my stories in non-linear scenes, constantly scribbling at several tangents. But I always have the outline to anchor me. (Of course, I go off-piste - who doesn't?) Somehow, when I gather it all together, it makes a kind of sense. And I'm constantly re-assessing & tweaking - by the time I get to the end of the manuscript, I've probably completed the equivalent of two drafts at least.

    In my view - we find what works for us & stick to it. I don't offer advice - I do make suggestions: Take your time, treat the first edit as if you are getting to know your story - finding out what it's really about. Working on a printed copy gives you an entirely different perspective. Once you transpose your changes back to your online version, try changing the font - you'll be amazed how it changes the look of the thing.

    When you have a draft you're reasonably happy with,let me know - I have a wee trick that will make a massive difference! Good luck, Jan, & congratulations!

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments, Carol - encouraging and supportive as ever. It's interesting to hear how you edit as you go and I'm sure it would save me having the mammoth task ahead of me! I'm dying to know what the 'wee trick' is and it's enough to get me editing as soon as I get back from Leeds!

  2. Going away to a conference is an excellent idea, because it stops you doing what I always do when I get to THE END, which is go straight back to the beginning and start changing, adding, rewriting (not editing), purely because I can't bear to think that it's finished. Come back to it with fresh eyes and a cool brain, and the best of luck.

    1. Thank you, Thorne. Yes, it's a funny feeling. I was so desperate to finish writing the first draft before the Conference where I'm meeting some publishers and agents but I've found this week I've been thinking back to how certain scenes maybe better if I'd written this or perhaps character X would have said this and not that. The good thing is, I shall get on the train in the morning and leave it behind!

  3. Many congratulations on finishing Whispering Olive Trees, Jan. You have done a huge amount of work and, of course, it has been done alongside everything you have been doing with book number 1. As for your question - Carol is right. There isn't a right way that suits everyone. Experience will enable you to find what works best for you. For now, enjoy the conference and feel chuffed with yourself. See you soon xxx

    1. Thank you, Sue. Yes, we're all different and when you start writing you have to find the way that suits as you say. I'm so looking forward to catching up at Leeds and hearing all about book three!

  4. Congratulations, Jan. I love the editing stage - not least because it means the first draft is finally completed. That's a wonderful feeling. All the best for the next stage and for your first novel being published too. Enjoy your weekend away!

    1. Thank you, Sara. There’s a long way to go but at least I can move on to stage two, now. The weekend at the Conference was great, thanks.