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The Numbers of Words

Many times I've known people say to me - I'd love to write a book, but it's such a massive thing I'd never have the time or commitment.

I used to struggle with what to reply, until a beautiful realisation came calling in that lovely way they sometimes do.

I'll put it this way, with a question. If you're like me, every year when you come to Christmas, or December 31st, you look back and think how fast the year went.

Your average novel is about 80 to 100 thousand words. So, break that down and it equates to around 250 words a day. And that's not a lot, is it?

So... if you can find the time for 200 to 300 words each day, for a year, you've got a book at the end of it.

And suddenly writing that novel you've always wanted to doesn't seem quite so daunting, does it?

It reminds me of that fine and wise quotation from Lao-tzu; "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step".

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Last Minute Changes

It appears to be an unavoidable part of the writing life - last minute changes.

I was in London at the weekend, doing a talk to the Society of Civil and Public Service Writers, at their club in Whitehall -

Civil service club.JPG

I'd been asked to give a general entertainment type talk - incorporating lots of fun anecdotes - rather than a more serious writing specific one, but...

... over drinks, as I met some of the people, I realised they wanted far more in the way of insights into the writing process.

Which necessitated some fast re-jigging of what I planned to say - and that over lunch, whilst eating and talking to several of the guests. Now, who says men can't multi-task?!

Happily, the talk went down well (my thanks to everyone who came), even if some of it was delivered in what's technically known as a seat of the pants fashion, given the newly produced version.

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Less is...

Less makes your opening line...

Less leaves more room for the imagination to...

With less, there's space for your characters to...

And as for what they look like...

Write less, and your settings can...

Less makes the pace of your story...

With less, that magical sense of mystery is...

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The Trick of Talks

Delight or despair in it, there's no getting around it - if you're going to be a writer, you have to give talks about your work.

I very well understand the nerves that can set jangling. My first talk was to an audience of about ten, in a small library near Plymouth, and I was shaking so hard I wouldn't be surprised if I appeared to the group to be a blur.

Since then it's got easier, but that's only because of the input of our familiar friends; hard work and practice.

Just like everything else, giving talks gets better with experience. You realise what works and what doesn't, how to mix up anecdotes and insights, the poignant parts and the humour.

But for those who still find the idea of giving a talk like a dragon breathing flames of fear, I have a couple of thoughts. To illustrate the first, one of my little visual interludes -

Appledore vicky.jpg

This is me interviewing Vicky Pryce at the wonderful Appledore Book Festival last week (a great event, a beautiful place, I can highly recommend a visit in future years.)

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