The best policy

November 16, 2009 at 21:55 (1)

Went to see a new version of Annie Get Your Gun on Friday at the Young Vic, starring Jane Horrocks. Could have maybe done with a bit of trimming, but it was lots of fun overall, with a very catchy score, including a little gem I hadn’t heard before, “I’ve got the sun in the morning and the moon at night.” I’ll go try and find it on MySpace after I finish typing up this entry, and add it to my MySpace home page if I can.

Spent most of Saturday with my uncle Derek. Had a meal in L’Atelier Joel Robuchon, which was very nice, is a bit over-priced. Then went to a few pubs, before watching the Ireland v France game on TV. We had meant to watch it in a pub called O’Neill’s, but there was a massic queue outside when we arrived, so we had to quickly wander around to try and find another pub which was showing it. We finally found the game showing on a screen in a Walkabout pub, and had to watch without commentary, but that was better than nothing at all. We lost 1-0, which was depressing. It’s a two-legged affair, so our World Cup dreams aren’t dead and buried yet, but the second leg is in Paris, so it’s going to be very difficult to turn the tables on the French and qualify for the biggest tournament in football. But we live in hope, so roll on Wednesday, and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed!!!!

Flew home on Sunday and got back to work on Monday, firing into my final ever edit of The Thin Executioner. I sat down at my computer before 09.30 today, and didn’t finish until just after 20.35. “Wow!!” I hear you gasp. “An 11 hour day — impressive!!!” Well… yes, in one way it was an 11 hour day, but not really. I had lots of other things to attend to over the course of the day — phone calls to make, an interview for the RTE Morning Ireland radio show which is due to be broadcast on Friday, etc. In the end I did pretty much a full day’s work, but no more than I would have done in 5 or 6 hours most other days. I think it’s always important to be honest with yourself when you’re a writer. It’s easy to make your days seem fuller than they are — you can sit at a table, twiddling your thumbs, pushing papers around, not actually working… then step away from it 8 or 10 or 12 hours later and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. But inside you know when you’ve had a lazy day, and the only person you’re trying to fool is yourself. That’s why I prefer to work to a page count rather than work for a set number of hours every day. When I’m doing a first draft, I aim for 10 pages, five days a week. If I meet that target, I know I’ve done a good week’s work. If I don’t, it’s clear to see, and I can’t make any excuses to myself. Things aren’t quite as simple as that when I’m editing, as each edit takes a different amount of time, depending on what stage the book is at. But by the time of the last edit, I should be getting through anything between 80 and 100 pages a day — and today I did 90, so that was fine.

If you’re starting out as a writer — or even when you get established, as very few writers can write as swiftly as I can — you can set yourself a far lower target than 10 pages a day of new material. In fact, the target you set is fairly immaterial — it can be as little as half a page three nights a week, or one page every Saturday and Sunday — even less if you feel that’s too much. What matters most is meeting that target. Every time you do that, you’ve notched up a little victory, and all the little victories add up over time. The more you stick to your schedule, the more you’ll probably find yourself capable of doing, and it’s likely that you’ll automatically adjust your target upwards, maybe half a page five nights a week, or two pages every Saturday and Sunday. That might happen swiftly, or it might happen slowly — again, that’s not important. Meeting your target, getting the practise in, and being honest with yourself… that’s what matter most. Especially that last bit. Because honesty is… well, read the title of this blog for the rest!!!!!!

1 Comment

  1. Robbie said,

    Great blog there Darren Shan- good that you are progressing with TTE and had a radio interview. Please keep up what I view as good work by writing more soon please!!! Oh, by the way, your friend Anthony Horowitz had his 8th Alex Rider book, Crocodile Tears out now and I am enjoying it so far.

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