I am thrilled to welcome Emma Carroll to my blog. I reviewed her début book Frost Hollow Hall and loved
it. I asked X to tell us about her writing process and here is what she wrote. It’s a brilliant, sweet and insightful guest post, I know you’ll enjoy it with your cuppa.
My Writing Process
Everything I’ve written I’ve approached differently. It feels a bit grand to call it a process, but I’ll try to explain myself best as I can.
First, some basics about me as a writer:
I’m still learning how to do it
Each story has it’s own notebook (most important!)
I plan and plot on paper but write straight onto my laptop
I do have a little writing room with views of the hills, but tend to work mostly at the kitchen table, on the sofa or in bed, always kept company by my dogs
I drink gallons of green tea
I have no preferred time of day for writing, though very early morning is good
I can’t write with music on or with other people in the room
If my writing goes well or badly, it REALLY impacts on my mood
I’m constantly distracted by the internet *checks twitter*
It took me two and a bit years to write ‘Frost Hollow Hall’. Over half of it was written during my MA course at Bath Spa University.The story started as a scene on a frozen lake. To find my characters and settings, I searched hundreds of Victorian photographs. I read books on séances, servants, C19th attitudes to death. The beauty of history is it hands you little storygems. The character Ada, for instance, came from reading about a family devastated by scarlet fever.
With a notebook full of pictures and character notes, I started writing. I aimed for a chapter a fortnight. This tied in well with uni workshops, and is one reason why FHH’s chapters are all 1500 words long or thereabouts. The story was an absolute pleasure to write.
Book 2- working title ‘Little Miss Blondin’– was different. Now I was writing to a deadline. Again, I did research, wrote key scenes, found pictures and stuck them in my notebook. But things didn’t really take off. Tilly in FHH has a strong voice. She seemed to overshadow my new MC, Louie. So I had to wait for Louie to come to me; eventually she did.
Now it was time to get words on the page. It was already January 2013; the book was due with Faber in 8 months and I was only 10,000 words into it. As a part-time teacher, I also knew my workload would be HUGE in the run up to exams. I’d only be able to write on my days off. So I got strict: 1,000 words a day, 4,000 words minimum a week.
I’d never written like this before. No more staring dreamily out of windows. At times, I had to force myself to keep writing. I saw hardly anyone for months. Yet what surprised me was I could do it, that the end result didn’t look so different. That I could get a story down, even if it had felt like wrestling a ferret into a sack! Suffice to say I met my deadline, and my family are beginning to recognise me again.
As I start circling the idea that’s book 3, I can see there are patterns in how I work. I’ve bought a notebook, I’m reading lots, I’m setting myself word count targets. But I’m also making sure I have family time too. So perhaps I’ve hit on a ‘process’ after all.
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