I’d love to write a book, if only I had the time – Katey Lovell

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By Katey Lovell

‘I’d love to write a book, if I only had the time…’♥

From talking to fellow authors, I know I’m not the first writer to have heard these words. It’s true – writing a novel does take time, and lots of it. There are authors out there who can conjure up a bestseller in a matter of weeks, but that’s far from the norm. It’s definitely not my experience. From typing the very first word to publication day, my debut novel The Singalong Society for Singletons took eleven months. For my new release, The Café in Fir Tree Park, it was closer to fifteen. It’s a lengthy process, this writing malarkey.

Firstly there’s the plotting and planning, which may include research into a specific place, era or theme. For Singalong that meant watching twenty-one musicals and taking detailed notes on the plot, the cast and the soundtrack and figuring out how to draw parallels between these and the lives of a group of twenty-somethings in Sheffield.

Next comes the writing itself, which for a full-length adult novel means sitting down and typing (or writing by hand, if you’re slightly doolally) approximately 80,000 words. I’ve found that by the time I reach the words ‘THE END’ – which I always type to remind myself that yes, I’ve completed a book! – I’m usually exhausted, teary and wondering whether anything I’ve committed to the page makes sense. But more than that, I’m filled with an exhilaration that an idea which started as a tiny seed in my brain grew into a fully-fledged tree of a story.

I don’t have an agent, but I’m fortunate to have a brilliant group of friends who are also writers willing to offer advice on how to develop the initial bare bones of my writing. If you’ve got a first draft of a novel, I can’t stress the importance of sharing it with honest beta readers who’ll tell you what does and doesn’t work.

The feedback I get from these early readers is invaluable and I’ll often make changes based on their suggestions. The earliest versions of The Café in Fir Tree Park had five viewpoints, but people mentioned one in particular that didn’t feel necessary. I kept the character of Kelly within the story, but withdrew her first person narrative. This was a lot of work, but the finished book is definitely stronger as a result.

Numerous rounds of edits, copyedits and proofreads follow. This is often the stage I find the hardest, because it’s monotonous. I find it especially hard to remember which phrases and imagery I’ve used before and the ‘find’ and ‘replace’ functions are put to good use at this stage. I also struggle to remember which order some of the events have happened in, especially if I’ve played around with the timeline!

Most weeks I dedicate around fifteen hours to writing, although when I’m working to a deadline it’s more like thirty. That’s a lot of hours from start to finish, in addition to a part-time day job, a family, and other commitments.

I know authors who have full time day jobs.

I know authors with large families.

I know authors with disabilities and ongoing health issues.

So how do they manage?

My advice to anyone who genuinely wants to write a book but doesn’t think they have the time is:

Protect the writing time you do have.

  • Treat writing like a job, even if it isn’t – block out half an hour on your calendar and write.
  • Watch less TV, read less, spend less time going to the cinema or whatever it is you do in your free time.
  • Set your alarm half an hour earlier, or go to bed half an hour later. If you’re really keen, do both!

If you really want to write, you’ll find the time, somehow.

Writers don’t have any more hours in the day than anyone else (although I think many of us survive on less sleep than the general population). We’ve just become masters at juggling the time we do have to work on our craft and maximise our output.

Katey Lovell grew up in South Wales and now lives in Sheffield with her husband David, son Zachary and their friendly moggie Clarence. If she’s not writing, she’ll most likely be found with her nose in a book or reviewing on her blog Books with Bunny. The Cafe in Fir Tree Park is out now in ebook, and is released in paperback in August.


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