I don’t know about you, but I had big plans for 2020. I was going to write two books, spend a week at a Jamaican holiday resort, lose 10 kilos.

Number 10

Number 10

As John Lennon said: Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.

Instead the year more or less ended when the lockdown began in March. I was midway through an adult crime novel when everything shut down. I stayed midway through that novel for nearly two months. In March and April and well into May I barely wrote a word.

Like everyone else, my days were full, though. I watched the terrifying press conferences. I followed the scary news online. I tried to find toilet paper. I bought half a kilo of yeast from a random bakery supplier. In short: I panicked. And my book languished.

By early May, though, the fear began to ebb. I think I kind of wore out my adrenal glands. I just couldn’t seem to panic anymore. Gradually, I became aware again of deadlines.

Realising that the year was slipping away, my husband and I made a pact that we would turn off the internet for at least five hours every day, to force ourselves back to some sort normal life.

At first it was torture not knowing what was happening on Twitter. But gradually, not knowing became quite wonderful. Ignorance was truly bliss. And one day I realised, I didn’t want to know what was going on with the virus every minute of the day.

Using Gmail’s Notes function, I began keeping track of my daily wordcount. In the first few days of no internet, my wordcount stayed in the low hundreds. But after a week it climbed to a thousand a day. And then two thousand.

Conscious that my book will not come out until 2022 at the earliest, I decided to add no pandemic to it. It’s just normal life as it was before and hopefully will be again. My main character, a British spy, has enough on her plate uncovering a Russian murder plot. She doesn’t need Covid to worry about as well.

This disease-free world became a blissful escape. Every morning I looked forward to shutting down the WiFi, and getting down to work.

When I finished the book at the end of June, I was sorry to see it go. I needed the discipline of writing to keep me away from the news.

I gave myself a week off to clean the house and indulge in the news again. By then, lockdown was easing. Things looked a bit better.

I began slowly sketching out the next book I wanted to write — the second in my young adult political thriller series, Number 10.

Normally, I find it difficult to jump from one book to another quickly — I often take a month off between books to clear one voice out of my head and let in another. This time, though, I dived straight in.

As soon as I had a good working synopsis, I began writing. I had to pause to do an edit on the adult crime for a couple of weeks, and to do a round of edits on a book I completed last year. Still, I’m now at 40,000 words, and on track to finish the first draft in November.

As things get worse in the news, I’m turning off the internet again to give myself headspace to write. I look forward to those hours without bad news.

If I stick to it, I might still get two books done this year.

But I’m afraid Jamaica’s going to have to wait.

Number 10 by CJ Daugherty is published on 10th November £6.99 and available on Amazon

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The 'top ten' refers to the very best of something, so perhaps you always give people your highlight reel and don’t offer examples of when things didn’t go to plan in your life. You may be pushing people away by giving the impression that no bad luck ever befalls you. It might be worth being a little more honest with those you want to forge close relationships with so they feel a sense of commonality with you... to read more click HERE