Saturday 30 April 2011

Guest Post: Barbara Mitchelhill - author of Run, Rabbit, Run

Today on the blog, I have Barbara Mitchelhill, author of Run, Rabbit Run, talking about how about a typical writing day. 

I think I must have a lucky gene. My desk is in front of the window looking out at a farm with a huge field of sheep and – at this time of year – achingly beautiful lambs that don’t stay still for a minute. That’s lucky!

A typical writing day for me depends on where I am in a book. For instance, with Run Rabbit Run, I had the idea of a father who was a pacifist in WW2. It was a fascinating subject and I asked myself questions. How would this affect his children? What social and moral difficulties would they encounter? What dangers might they experience? I did a lot of research and met some wonderfully interesting people and, believe me, that can run away with a huge amount of time.

Once I’d got the idea, done the research, knew how the story would begin and end, then the real day-to-day writing started. When I settled at my desk every morning, I first read the chapter I had worked on the day before. I don’t know if this is the right thing to do but for me it works and gets me into writing mode and pushing onto the next chapter. I don’t like to plan in great detail. I tried it once and I found that it killed the excitement. It stopped me racing onto the next chapter because I knew what was going to happen. I was bored - and if I’m bored, heaven help my readers.

The important thing with the first draft is getting to the end. My first draft is always rubbish so I just grin and bear it. Having something to read and criticise and edit is so much better for me that chewing my fingernails trying to get a perfect sentence before moving onto the next one. I’ve been there. Done that. Only to find that the precious sentence, page or paragraph I sweated hours over, was sacrificed in the second draft because that part of the plot had to be axed.

I find the hardest thing is looking at my work objectively. It’s almost impossible but I try. I print the whole thing out and sit and read – anywhere but in my office (the dining room for me so I can use the table for stacks of paper). I read to give me some idea of the flow of the story. Its strengths and weaknesses. The boring bits. The parts I’ve written too quickly, without any depth. The parts that don’t move the story on. When I’ve finished reading, I write notes. Then I read it again, making more notes as I go along.
After all that I start the next draft.

It sounds like a terrible slog, doesn’t it. But it’s not. It’s wonderful! Writing is living another life in your head and you can have a coffee break whenever you want to. Honest! I’m heading for the kettle right now.

Thank you Barbara for sharing with us your thoughts on being a writer. I am pleased to hear that you struggle with your first drafts too!

Run, Rabbit, Run is available to buy right now and is published by Anderson Press.

If you would like to find out more about Barbara Mitchelhill and see what other books she has written, then please visit her on her blog here

If you would like to read my review of Run, Rabbit, Run and enter a giveaway to win a signed copy of the book, then please click here.


  1. Great guestpost :)
    I can't even imagine what it would have been like for the kids, people can be so cruel

  2. Great guest post. I always enjoy hearing a bit about the author behind the work and their writing process.

  3. Wonderful, interesting guest post! Her view from her desk sounds indesribably lovely and inspiring.

    The first draft is a rough draft, to be reworked and refined and polished--and eventually transformed into a diamond.

  4. Blodeuedd - it must have been so harsh on the children.

    Animewookie - Thankyou. She is lovely.

    Naida - Me too! I get to be nosy.

    Suko - You are so right. It makes me feel better about my own writing.


Hiya, thanks for stopping by, it is always nice to hear what you have to say, so do leave a comment if you have time.