27th Feb. 2020 Probably a little late to start keeping track of my novel writing experience, but who knows, might actually help me get it out there! Not much time before the school run, so just a quick update today, going right back to where the idea came from.... For those of you unaware, I'm married to a Romanian who I met on holiday....possible future book material right there! Anyway, we have 4 fantastic children, 2 boys of our own, and now guardians to 2 nieces. Life is busy....Florin and I also have our own company. Anyway, I decided to imagine what Florin's childhood in Romania would have been like, so different from my own here in Scotland. Another major motivation being to try change the negative perceptions many people have about Romania, as my family and Romanian friends mean so much to me. OK, time's up! More soon.... 2nd March 2020 Do you plan out your writing or wing it? I discovered a very useful writing platform called Novlr and kept a basic chapter guide with few details of what I wanted to include in each. This was easily accessible on the left hand side of my screen. Writing about a country and culture that is not your own is quite daunting, and at first I was afraid of getting things wrong, or offending potential readers. They say knowledge is power, and so I began researching the communist era in Romania. I learned a lot, and found it fascinating. So much so in fact, that I had to take a step back before my book became more historical research than fiction. My view is that by doing research, your writing becomes more authentic and believable, and hope I achieved a good balance between the realities of that time, and my imaginings of characters living through it. 3rd March 2020 I've discovered I have an inner critic difficult to silence. Realizing that I would never make any progress if I continually agonized over the words in front of me, and wanting to put a stop to my over-editing habit, I looked for a solution. Some way to let go of the worries, the self-doubts, the fact that writing a piece of work of considerable length seemed an impossible task with a business to run and parenting 4 kids. For me, that solution came from completing a course I discovered via Novlr; Tim Clare's couch to 80k writing course. Every day there was a different writing exercise, each entirely different and stretching me to write in ways I would never have thought of. The freedom to write for 10 minutes every day, with no judgement on something completely unrelated to my novel, was liberating. The course taught me to just go for it, write within the time period and not worry about the results. The exercises were fun, and boosted my confidence, as often I was pleasantly surprised by what I came up with, when at first, some of the tasks could seem so outwith my comfort zone. So my tip for today for any budding novelists, is to try a 10 minute writing exercise every day, it boosts your creativity and helps to silence those persistent inner critics. 5th March 2020 Another hurdle I had to overcome was worrying about my characters, their thoughts, actions, behaviours. Largely because many, most to be honest, are based on people I actually know. Should the real life versions ever read my fictional accounts, would they be offended? Never speak to me again? I had to keep telling myself that although the people may exist in reality, my portayals of them, by and large, are fictional, so why would they be offended? I'm still debating with myself if the names will be changed or not... Similarly, going back to my earlier fear of everything in the book not being historically accurate, I think most readers accept a certain amount of artistic license when reading fiction, so this helped me get over those worries. 9th March 2020 Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? In theory it's a great idea, spend the cold, rainy month of November aiming to write 50 000 words, which could result in a first draft of a novel. Whilst I commend people who have managed this, putting that kind of pressure on yourself may actually zap the joy of writing from you. I've always been guilty of comparing myself to others, writing no exception. Reading about other people spouting out thousand of words in a short period of time could make me feel like I was a snail in comparison, getting nowhere fast. I had to remind myself that everyone has different circumstances and writing methods. Finding the time, never mind the energy to write whilst also dealing with 4 kids and a startup company makes things somewhat tricky. I'm proud that I finally managed to type THE END, and don't concern myself with how long it took me to get there. I believe this is the type of mindset authors should learn to develop.