What's On in Edinburgh

Spotlight On: Ali George – Writing 12 Books in 12 Months

Ali George Edinburgh


dinburgh-based writer Ali George has set herself an astonishing task for the New Year – she plans to write 12 books in 12 months. This may seem impossible, but there’s a twist: along the way she will be seeking ideas and inspiration from you, the public. Ali has chosen a different genre for each month (including fantasy, horror and Scottish literature) and is open to plot suggestions, character names, or anything else you’d like to throw her way. We spoke to Ali about motivation, getting noticed, and the plans for her 13th book…

How many words will you be writing each month?

I’m aiming for 50,000 words a month. First novels are usually about 70,000 – but I’ll just be writing the first drafts of each of the twelve books, so 50,000 words is about right. The ultimate idea is to take the drafts, work on them some more, and then go to publishers with them to see whether any of them get picked up.

What inspired you to do this?

It was mainly taking part in National Novel Writing Month – I did it last year and found it a lot easier than I thought I would. I managed to get into a routine quite easily, and ended up finishing a book in a month. The goal for NaNoWriMo is 50,000 words in one month, and I managed to do a bit more than that by the end of November.

You must find it quite easy to motivate yourself?

I’ve actually been finding it rather difficult recently. I work for a temping agency, and for various reasons I’ve accidentally managed to take January off work. But I find it so much easier to sit down and get on with writing when I’m working – when I know that I’ve got all day I end up leaving things until much later on. When I was doing NaNoWriMo I wrote for about 2 hours every day after work. Some days you might just be thinking ‘I must try and get to my target’, but then other days you’ll be really in the zone.

You’re keen for people to get involved in the project – how can they do this?

I’d love for people to come to me with their ideas. The website has a ‘get involved’ page, and I also have Twitter and Facebook as well. I’ve had a few contributions so far – recently I got a long email from a guy and his dad who’d come up with tons of ideas for the Western genre. Each month I’ll be writing in the style of a different genre, and I’m hoping to target some different groups within Edinburgh for ideas.  My brother works in the Byre Theatre in St Andrews, so I had his colleagues as a captive audience for February’s story. They were suggesting names for characters and things like that, so now I’ve got a basic outline of the plot and some interesting characters to build on.

How do you find it trying to incorporate other people’s ideas into your stories?

It’s quite difficult in some ways, but at the same time it gives you something to work with. Even if the suggested ideas don’t work out, it can make you think about the story in a totally different way.

What do you anticipate that your biggest challenge might be over the year?

I imagine it might be difficult to keep going towards the end of the year! Or maybe the biggest problem will be if nobody gets involved with certain months; that’ll leave it completely up to me, when I’d much rather lots of other people were a part of it. I think keeping the momentum going and spreading the word is really important, too.

And you’re planning to write a 13th book once the year is up – what will that be about?

It’ll be about writing and attempting to publish twelve fiction books. Hopefully I’ll talk to published authors about their thoughts on the writing process, and I’ll speak to people that got involved about their thoughts. I’m hoping it’ll be something a bit like Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack Adventure.

So what’s the ultimate aim of the project?

I’m mainly doing it to get noticed, I suppose. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, and it would be quite good to make a living out of it, if at all possible.  I hope this project will get people reading my work.

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