I believe in the Graham Greene approach: 500 words a day gets you to 100,000 words in seven-eight months if you genuinely do your 500 words a day. But what happens when those 500 words prove elusive?
At the moment, I haven't written my 500 words a day for 7 months. OK, I've studied, written two assignments, sat two exams, written more exams, marked exams, taught, travelled and moved house in the interim, but really, it doesn't seem like much of an excuse. I keep saying I'm in the middle of research, but I'm reaching that point where it is impossible to hold back. I have to give up all the fiddle faddle with the outlines and the character sketches and get going.
When I know what I'm doing and where I'm going, 500 words takes me around an hour. So not a great deal. And I do know where I'm going, mostly, but I feel like the kid watching all her friends jumping 15 metres into the sea and just not able to summon up the courage to jump. I'm teetering on the edge, and I know it will be fine when I hit the water, but at the moment, it all seems a bit too frightening and I've got that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I keep thinking of worthwhile projects: making a movie with my older son (Dr Who and the Daleks meet the dinosaurs)... sort out the photographs for the birthday present I'm getting ready for my husband ( a book of before and after pictures of the house we've just renovated and moved into), all the reading I have to do before the summer is over to be ready for the next academic year, all the tidying and sorting and ironing I should be doing.
But my plot is all revved up with plenty of places to go, my characters are beginning to burst out of my head and it's time to get back into the discpline of 500 words a day.
It doesn't work for every one, it doesn't even work for me all the time, but ultimately it's the one that gets the book done.