Learning as I go

Writing my first adult novel has been a learning experience. Having only written books a few tens of thousands words long at their very longest (many were less than 5,000 words) up to now, suddenly having to organise a manuscript that’s currently just over 100,000 words has been tricky. I had originally created just a few large files, that I added to in a rather haphazard fashion as ideas occurred. They were labelled ‘Marcus story’, ‘Latest’, ‘New bits’ – shockingly vague and hopeless! It’s left me unable to find things I know I’ve written somewhere, despite using ‘find’ on Word.

So I’m now working on a chapter by chapter basis. If I get a brainwave for a later event, I write it quickly and store it in a very clearly labelled file, such as ‘Scottish hotel bit’, ‘microchipping bit’ etc. It took me a while, but I got there in the end.  You’re probably rolling your eyes in dismay but honestly, I never had this sort of problem with my concise children’s books!


  1. Hi Stephanie,

    I dislike the expression ‘learning curve’ because, like ‘organic’ and ’24/7′, for example, it’s overused. Imagine my displeasure when I learned that my upcoming article in Country Smallholding Magazine has had my title, ‘The Smallholder’s Classroom’, changed to ‘Learning Curve’!

    I also think that the ‘curve’ in your generic diagram isn’t at all how it works, other than the basic principle that one learns more quickly at the start. It should be drawn with jagged up and downs, plateaux, even backtracking, and maybe drawn, not in ink, but in blood, sweat and tears. Happy learning!

    Lastly, I’ve often wondered whether a database program would be a good thing for a writer, whether there is even a ready made program for writers.

    Thanks for the link to your toilet article, what a gruesome tale!

    1. Learning mountain range might be a better description. Sorry to hear your article was retitled – Editors can’t help tinkering, can they?

  2. I had to laugh when I read this – I’m plodding very slowly along on my novel and so far it’s all just in one word document, which I’m beginning to think may not be the way to go. How do agents/publishers want to have things submitted? I have no idea – I’m really just bumbling along – but I suppose it could be worse – it could be handwritten!!

    1. Word will be fine for a publisher – they may want it double spaced but that’s easy enough. Keep going! Mine is turning out to be quite long …

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