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Posted on 11 March 2018 21:52


Really got into the novel revision this week, and actually enjoyed it, which was a very pleasant surprise!


I set out early for my writing date with Ann at Good & Proper. I hadn’t done much actual writing for the last two or three weeks, so was hoping a whole day in my favourite cafe would set me back on track.

I eased myself in gently with a writing prompt from Pobble 365, then wrote a letter to Writing Magazine in response to one in this month’s issue.

I then moved on to Artisan, organising my revision notes onto a schedule, based on my Winchester deadlines. It’s an ambitious plan, and I can’t afford to waste the opportunity presented by Winchester, but I feel a lot better now it’s all prioritised and I can see exactly how much I need to do and by when.

I took a break by drafting my first March GYWO discussion post and catching up on my reviews.

Then I took a deep breath, and launched into the new and improved Artisan Revision Plan! I did all seven of the quick wins, which made me feel as if I was really making progress at long last.

I read the next chapter of the Self-Editing book.

Overall, it was an extremely productive day and made me feel a lot better about the immediate future of my writing projects.


I had a writing date scheduled with Hannah but she didn’t make it. It was a shame not to see her, but I still managed to get a lot done.

I went through the whole of the current draft of Artisan and added information about transport and how all the characters get from one place to another. I had thought this would be a mammoth task, but my notecards really helped, and it only actually took about 90 minutes.


I took advantage of a trip out of London for a work training session to do some more Artisan revision. My editor identified one of the minor characters as important, but not having enough to do to make her arc credible. So, I decided to put her back in as a point-of-view character (which she had been in an earlier draft) and bulk up her part in the story. I went through the previous draft, finding all her POV scenes and saving them in a new file, then inserted notecards into my current stack where these scenes should go. I then went through the rest of my current draft (which takes the story a lot further than the previous one) and highlighted scenes that should be switched to her POV, or where new scenes from her POV should be added.

I thought this would take much longer than it did, and I finished up with a very clear path to inserting this character’s POV back into the novel, which will also be much faster than I had anticipated. Hurrah for notecards! They really do make it so much easier to track aspects of the novel and figure out how to change things without screwing it all up.


The recording of my short story, Customer Service, went live on The Centropic Oracle today! It was great fun hearing my characters be brought to life, and I thought the narration was excellent. I cringed at a couple of lines that could have been better written, but overall I enjoyed listening to it.


I went into town early to take advantage of the time leading up to a lunch date with my family, and settled in at Eat on the South Bank. I was still feeling enthused about the Artisan revisions, so I launched into sorting out the new/old POV stream I’d worked out earlier in the week. It proved quite easy to put the old scenes into the current draft, though the necessary tweaking and formatting took longer than I expected. Still, I got a good way through before deciding to call it a day, and also discovered there was a scene randomly missing from the current draft, which I managed to slot back in from a previous one.


I sent my latest GYWO discussion post for publication, and also released a slightly edited version on my blog.

I sent out eleven submissions for various publication opportunities and competitions, which took nearly three hours and was very tedious. But, I guess you’ve got to speculate to accumulate!


Posted on 11 March 2018 10:09

The post I wrote for GYWO this month was all about how to approach the dreaded revision:

I hate revision.

With my short stories and fanfiction, I always have good intentions of scheduling additional time to let them sit for a while and then go back to them to revise. But most often, I dash off a first draft, scan over it, declare it done, and hit submit.

However, I know from experience that the stories I’ve spent more time on and revised in more detail are better and have been more successful. And, if I ever want to get my novel published, I know it’s going to require a lot of revision work.

So, I have developed certain strategies and found certain tools and resources to motivate me to revise and help me organise my revision once I get started.

For me, external feedback is absolutely key to revision. I find it almost impossible to reread my own work and identify where it needs work. So, I always try and get someone else to look at it and give me feedback. This also gives me a complete break from thinking about the story, so I can come back to it with fresh eyes later.

I’m lucky because I have helpful friends and family members who are willing to do this, and they have definitely helped with the novel. I try not to overburden them with too many requests, though, so I also use Scribophile for short fiction. This is a website where you can post your stories and get feedback from other members and I’ve found it extremely helpful over the last few years. There are lots of feedback sites out there, with varying levels of commitment (you have to give a lot of critiques to receive critiques on Scribophile), and I would recommend trying some.

Most recently on the novel, I paid for a developmental edit, which proved to be excellent, but obviously this requires some financial investment, and it’s important to check the editor’s credentials before you shell out.

Once I’ve got some feedback, the next stage, of course, is to actually do the work!

Luckily, while I hate revision, I love organising information. So, to ease myself in gently and hopefully get me excited about the project again, I go through all the feedback I’ve received and make a big list of all the changes I think I need to make. It’s important to note that I don’t automatically accept every suggestion that is made - I often don’t agree with feedback comments, though I think long and hard about them if multiple people have said the same thing.

Once I have a bullet point list, I get a whole load of coloured pens (yay!) and categorise each point. My categories are generally: background info, character development, plot points and narrative style. I also rate them as to whether they are quick wins, longer points that I can get to work on, or in need of further thought and development. Then I number all the points in the order I intend to work on them (always quick wins first, to motivate me to get started), and I’m ready to go.

It’s very easy for me to get lost in the list-making and joy of coloured pens, so it’s important to have a clear deadline for getting to work. As my husband says, at some point you have to “do the do” rather than just “talking the stuff”.

This all makes the revision process a lot easier and more fun for me - and helps to make sure it actually happens!


Subsequent to writing this, I've actually launched into my bullet list of revision points for the novel, and it turns out not to be as painful as I thought it would be - though I'm still on the easiest bits. I've also discovered a missing scene and a huge disservice to one of the minor characters, who lost her point of view in the last draft and currently disappears for half the book. I'm in the process of putting all her stuff back in, which I think will make the story stronger - but I may then have to do a whole new raft of revisions to tighten the whole thing up again. It's true what they say - a novel is never done! At some point, you just have to admit defeat. But I'm definitely not there yet...



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Posted on 04 March 2018 22:26


Still getting back into the swing of things after the holiday, but deadlines are looming...


I booked my tickets for Winchester Writers’ Festival, including all my workshops and my one-to-one appointments with four different literary agents. This gives me until 24 May to get the opening of Artisan ready for submission, and ideally until 15 June to get the rest of the manuscript into shape, for the unlikely event of anyone asking to read the rest. Nothing like a hard deadline to focus the mind!


I had an idea for how to deepen one of the characters in Artisan, so I wrote some notes to add to my revision list.

I was supposed to have a writing date with Hannah, but we cancelled due to snow.


I got confirmation that my story, Safeguarding the Future, has been accepted for the Schreyer Ink Slave to the Axe Song anthology, which is very exciting.


I added all the latest submission opportunities and competitions from Writing Magazine to my rolling spreadsheet, and put together a plan for my writing date on Monday, where I’ll hopefully get back into the swing of things properly.


A conversation between two characters for my Space Swap fanfic came to me as I was waking up, so I quickly jotted them down. I’m not sure where it’s going, but at least it’s a start.

I helped Bear write his post about the JoCo Cruise.


Posted on 27 February 2018 15:41


Turns out the JoCo Cruise isn’t really conducive to getting much writing done…



NK Jemisin was on the cruise and held a Write & Chat session, which was awesome. She answered lots of questions about writing, and encouraged the attendees to talk about their own projects as well.

In between the chat, I wrote notes for my two upcoming GYWO discussion posts, and brainstormed the fanfic I’ve been assigned for Space Swap this year.

Other than that, my brain took a complete holiday and I failed to achieve anything productive, despite lots of spare time on long journeys and between entertainments.

Hey ho! Nose to the grindstone now I’m back in real life again…


Posted on 18 February 2018 13:16



Not a huge amount of work done this week, but some exciting submissions completed, and everything kept ticking over nicely.




I helped Bear post his account of the Thorpeness reading retreat.


Then I formatted a story and submitted it to an upcoming anthology publication.




I did some Scribophile critiques to get Shards into the spotlight for faster feedback.


I also revised my proposed Breathe Magazine article and sent it to Dave for comments.


Then I used the Scribophile comments I’d received so far to amend Shards a bit.




I completed my article for Breathe Magazine and submitted it.


I amended Shards a bit more, based on other Scribophile critiques. Everyone liked it, but also said it could (and probably should) be expanded into a much longer story. I think they’re right, but I didn’t have time to do that before the anthology deadline, so I submitted it with only minor amendments. If it’s not successful, I’ll add it to my revisions list for more development at a later date.


Later, I typed up my reviews of two books and a film, all with a unifying theme.




I went through Writing Magazine and added the relevant publication opportunities to my spreadsheet. One of them fit my only unassigned short story really well, so I submitted that.


Then I did some brainstorming for Colours, based on Geena’s ideas from last weekend.


Posted on 12 February 2018 11:46



A bit scattershot this week, but good progress on some projects.




I did today’s word at




I continued my plan of getting back into writing slowly by doing a slightly longer piece from the day’s image prompt at Pobble 365.




I used Pobble 365 to provide a prompt for a brief piece of free writing.


My planned writing date with Hannah was initially a bit derailed because all four of my venue options in Vauxhall were failures. We finally ended up in Pret, which was fine.


I completed my reviews from last weekend’s glorious reading retreat, and managed to write the next scene of Shards. I have a clear vision from there to the end of the story, so felt pretty good about it.




I did a first draft of an article I intend to submit to Breathe Magazine about the benefits of reading retreats.




My short story, Moving Forward, was published on Page and Spine.


I did some research and planning for this month’s GYWO discussion post, and figured out a way I could submit to an interesting anthology by the end of the month, utilising a story whose rights reverted to me at the end of last year.




I met Geena at The Counter at The Delaunay, a lovely cafe I discovered earlier in the week.


Geena read the draft of my proposed Breathe article and gave me some really useful feedback on improving it.


I finished the first draft of Shards and posted it on Scribophile for critiques.


I wrote up the GYWO discussion post about debunking writing myths, which was a lot of fun, and I hope will be helpful to some of the newer writers in the community.


Geena and I brainstormed Colours, which resulted in some interesting new ideas on how to expand the backstory and widen the scope going forwards.


Posted on 12 February 2018 11:28

This month's GYWO discussion post topic was debunking writing myths, and I thought I would post my article here as well.

Last year, I finally got around to reading On Writing by Stephen King, and he has a lot to answer for in terms of writing myths. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of good stuff in that book, and not all the myths listed below derive from it, but people have taken some of his advice and turned it into very rigid ‘rules’ for writing that can prove both restrictive and discouraging.


So, here’s my take on some of the most popular writing ‘rules’ out there, and why they don’t always apply.


1. Write Every Day


This one comes up *a lot*, with the suggestion being that the only way to get ahead with your writing is to write every single day. Now, I’m sure this works really well for some people, and it’s definitely a good idea to build a regular writing habit. However, writing every single day just isn’t practical for some people, and fitting your writing into whatever tiny gaps your schedule allows throughout the week doesn’t mean you’re not a ‘proper writer’. Also, I tried writing every day for about ten days last summer and absolutely hated it. It became a horrible chore, and my focus narrowed entirely to how many words I had produced, rather than enjoying the process. Three or four times a week, for a scheduled session of at least 90 minutes, is what works for me, and I’m sticking to it.


2. Show, Don’t Tell


This is the idea that ‘showing’ what’s going on in your story, through dialogue, character action and direct scenes is always better than ‘telling’ it through bald statements, summary and exposition. And for the most part, showing is better. Demonstrating that your character is unsettled by having a shiver go down their spine (cliche aside) is more effective than stating that they’re scared. However, this rule is often taken to extremes, with people suggesting that ‘telling’ should never be used. And that’s just plain not true. You do want to avoid pages and pages of explanations, and dialogue tags other than ‘said’ are generally a bad idea, but sometimes you just need to cut to the chase and spell something out, or summarise a lengthy period of time when little of significance happens. Be aware of this one, but don’t let yourself be a slave to it.


3. Never Use Adverbs


As with the example above, this is another ‘rule’ that shouldn’t be taken to extremes. Yes, there are often better ways to describe things than by using an adverb, and they are best avoided when explaining how dialogue is spoken (usually, you should dispense with this altogether - if your dialogue needs explaining, rewrite your dialogue). However, adverbs are not wholly the enemy, and a few sprinkled around where it really is the most expedient and expressive way of conveying something is fine.


4. Write What You Know


This is a ‘rule’ that’s often misunderstood. If all writers only composed material based on their direct experience, it would all be very self-indulgent and lacking in creativity. As writers, we have active imaginations and we should absolutely use them to make stuff up. You’re not likely to have actually met an alien, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put aliens in your stories. What this ‘rule’ is trying to say is that you should draw on your experience and emotions to inform your writing and make your characters’ reactions more credible. It doesn’t mean you can’t imagine them in a weird and wonderful situation you could never experience in real life.


5. You Can Only Write When the Muse is Willing


I fell foul of this ‘rule’ for a long time, always waiting for the ‘right frame of mind’ so that my writing would flow with ease and grace. Sometimes, that would happen and it was amazing. But the rest of the time, I just didn’t get anything done. I spent years, wishing I had more time and more energy to dedicate to my writing - but my most prolific writing periods were always when I was busiest with other things. That was when my juices were flowing and I had to cram my writing into tiny spaces. More recently, I’ve discovered that if I just sit down and get on with it (starting with a clear, itemised list, of course) I can always get *something* done, even if it isn’t my best work. But small progress is still progress and it’s important to get into the habit of just cracking on with it, even if you don’t feel that enthused. Otherwise, you’ll waste a lot of time waiting for divine inspiration that probably won’t arrive.


6. Writing is a Solitary Passtime


Look at where we are. This community itself tells us that this one isn’t true. And some of my best writing has come out of interacting with other people. I love bouncing ideas off friends, getting feedback on my writing, collaborating on projects, or just getting together with other writers to exchange experiences and moan about how difficult our chosen craft is. I always come away from contact with other writers more energised and more enthused. So, don’t lock yourself away in an attic, under the impression that you have to be alone to write your magnum opus. Get involved, make friends, share your writing life - it will only improve the experience.


7. Real Writers Find Writing Easy


This is just plain ridiculous. I can guarantee that even the most famous and successful writers have days when it’s almost impossible to get any words down and even contemplating writing feels like dragging themselves and all their worldly possessions through sucking mud. And generally, they’re not shy about letting the world know it. I think every interview I’ve ever read with a professional writer has referenced the difficulties they’ve faced with their writing. We’re all in this together, and it’s always going to be tough at least some of the time.


8. A Debut Novel is A Writer’s First Novel


The automatic thought when a book is advertised as a ‘debut’ is to assume it’s the first thing the author has written. But that’s very unlikely to be the case. It just means it’s the first novel they’ve managed to get published, and invariably there have been failed attempts and many rewrites before that publication happened.


9. Writers are Born, Not Made


Following on from the above, every single writer has to learn their craft and spend time improving it. If it happens at all, it must be incredibly rare that someone would dash off a first attempt at writing, and have it turn out perfectly first time. Every writer has a folder somewhere with their earliest painful and embarrassing efforts (assuming they haven’t burned them) - and if they claim that isn’t true, they’re just plain lying. Some writers are more talented than others, but techniques can be learned, and everyone has room for improvement (and the ability to work to achieve it).


10. Writing Method X is Better Than Writing Method Y


If you take away anything from this post, it should be this. Every writer has different techniques, rituals, work ethics, routines. No one method of writing is going to work for everyone. The most important thing to do is experiment, be creative, find out what works for you, and then rock it, no matter what anyone else says. There are no hard and fast rules that are set in stone and unable to be broken. If you find you compose best dictating into your smartphone while water-skiiing, then go for it. Nobody can tell you how you should approach your writing - it’s yours and nobody else’s and you should go about it in whatever way best suits you.





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Posted on 05 February 2018 13:49


Two abortive writing sessions this week, and then a complete break from writing altogether. So, apparently, writing every day lasted about a month!



I did today’s Detox prompt.



I wrote a couple of reviews at lunchtime and did today’s Detox prompt.

My intended after-work cafe was full and, by the time I eventually installed myself at Patisserie Valerie at King’s Cross, my sugar was low, my concentration shot, and my brain refusing to focus.

Still, I brainstormed Shards, Artisan and Colours, and came up with some good ideas of how to progress with all of them. But I didn’t do any actual writing.



I did the daily word at



I did today’s Detox prompt, which was the final one, so I looked up some other writing prompt sources and added a reminder to my calendar to do one every day, as I’m hoping to keep up my new habit of at least writing something very small and minor every day.

I caught up on some reviews.

After work, I fetched up in The Espresso Room on Southampton Row for a brief session. I started out launching into Part Two of Colours, which took an interesting, and possibly problematic turn, but that was where the story wanted to go, so I let it.

Then I suffered a complete brain fail, partially brought on by uncertain arrangements for the rest of the evening, and decided to head home early. So, I certainly didn’t achieve everything I wanted to do, but I at least managed some stuff, and had a clear plan for the next day.



I entered this month’s Visual Verse competition, and then I took the rest of the weekend off to properly enjoy the luxury of a reading retreat. I’m hoping a few days off will refresh my brain and enable me to pick up the writing reins productively again next week.


Posted on 28 January 2018 19:03



I experienced both accomplishment and doubt this week, so a fairly typical few days as a writer! I’m generally very pleased with the focus I’m managing to keep on my writing, but I’m also very well aware how far I still have to go to get where I want to be.



I had a writing date planned with Ann at Good and Proper but wasn’t sure how enthused I would be after the long writing session of the day before. But I got the train in with Dave at 9am and settled in with a lovely pot of Honey Orchid tea.


I started with today’s Detox prompt, which I based on the “Right Said Fred” song I remember from my childhood, so that was a lot of fun.


Then I cracked on with Colours, wrote two scenes and made it to the end of what I think is Part One, and a total of nearly 25,000 words written since the start of November, so I’m very happy indeed with that!


I finished the set of Artisan notecards, giving me a complete overview of the novel as it stands at the moment, and a jumping off point for the next stage of revision. I had some ideas about the restructure and how to move forwards with it, so I noted them down before I forgot them.


I did some more critiquing on Scribophile over lunch, because I think the Shards short story will need to be split into two parts when I post it, so I’ll need ten points from critiquing before I can do that.


I moved on to a new scene for Shards. I really like the idea of this story, but I’m not sure I’m doing it justice, and there are a lot of world-building questions I haven’t answered. I’m hoping its short length will let these slide, but maybe Scribophile feedback will say otherwise, if I can finish it in time.


By this time, my brain was suffering a bit from too much hard work, so I read a couple of chapters of the self-editing book, and typed up some notes on creating conflict, as an easy way to keep feeling productive.




I did today’s Detox prompt.




I went to the Friends Meeting House cafe on Euston Road after work today, which turned out to be very nice, if a little busy, with very cheap tea.


I read through the whole of Colours so far, and really enjoyed it, which is a good sign. I made a few tweaks, but couldn’t see any major issues, and it seems to hold together quite well. I decided it would be much clearer if I denoted the flashbacks in some way, so I went back through and added the year at the beginning of any section where there’s a change in timeline. Then I sent the whole thing to Geena for her views, since she helped me come up with the idea in the first place, and I’m not quite sure where to go from where I am now.


I did today’s Detox prompt and then wrote a blog post about the motivating effects of making a list for the next writing session at the end of each one, and completing each Weeknotes paragraph before actually embarking upon the task described therein.




Nearly didn’t make it today, but did the daily word at just before going to bed. It still counts as writing - just about!




Really wasn’t feeling it today, but still managed a minute of writing on - I really like this because it’s *always* possible to find one minute to write, even on a non-writing day.




Today saw me at the Costa round the corner from Highbury & Islington by 9am, a little bleary-eyed, but glad to be following the plan, not the mood.


I started with today’s Detox prompt, then went on to drafting new scenes for Shards. I wrote a quick fanfic for Fic_Promptly, which is turning out to provide just what I wanted - somewhere I can dip in and out for inspiration so I can keep my fanfic brain ticking over.


Then I did some more Artisan revision, working out what needs to change in the opening sections so I can make sure to have that done in time to submit to Winchester Festival. I moved on to brainstorming the next section of Colours, since I have now exhausted my original outline and only have a third of a rather short novel! I was feeling very accomplished and pleased about both novels on Wednesday but today’s activities have shown me quite how far I still have to go with both of them. Still, I have a list, so at least that’s something.


I read another chapter of the self-editing book over lunch and did a short critique on Scribophile to round things off.




I entered pieces in a couple of competitions, and did the daily word at


I also caught up on a fair few reviews to round the week off.


Posted on 24 January 2018 18:08

I’ve recently been gaining a lot of benefit from the concept of the presupposition of success. I first came across this a couple of years ago, in a session on self-hypnosis at a writing festival.


In that context, it was about introducing a statement into your subconscious, assuming an answer to a particular question would come you at a specified time. I have used this often since to make progress on writing projects, by repeating a statement like, “When I sit down to have my lunch on Wednesday, I will get an idea for this week’s fanfiction prompt.” And it really works.


I have been developing this technique in other ways, without realising it, and it only came to me when I started writing this post that that was what I’ve been doing.


It started with my Self Journal, which is where I’m planning my scheduled writing time for 2018. At the end of each writing session, I confirm the date for my next one, and complete the task list on the next page with what I want to achieve next time. This means I know exactly when I will next be working on my writing projects (allowing me to relax and enjoy my free time in between) and it gives me a framework for that scheduled time, which helps me focus and provides me with a target for success. I certainly haven’t completed everything on my list at every session, but I’ve definitely achieved more than I would have done without a concrete plan.


Even better is the way I’m using my Weeknotes as a motivating tool. Instead of writing them at the end of each session, summarising what I’ve done, I’ve started writing each paragraph before embarking on the task I’m writing about. So, I’m actually predicting what I’m about to do, rather than recording what I’ve just done. I only do it one task at a time, so I’m not getting too far ahead of myself and making my presupposition of success unrealistic. But, I find it very motivating, and hugely helpful in keeping focus if I state each task as if I’ve already completed it, and then start.


And thus far, I’ve never had to go back and change my Weeknotes entry afterwards because I haven’t achieved what I’ve written.





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Posted on 22 January 2018 07:27


Good use of available time this week, and two new cafes discovered that are okay for emergency writing sessions. I’m also doing very well on my habit pledge, as I’ve only missed two writing days in the year so far.



I planned to have today off from writing, but was adding submission opportunities to my rolling spreadsheet and came across Visual Verse, a website where a picture prompt is put up every month for writers to respond to. The current picture was fun, so I wrote and submitted a quick piece, and also subscribed to their mailing list for future prompts.

I also did today’s Detox prompt, and submitted a couple of pieces for publication in various places.



I did today’s Detox prompt.



I went to the back-up Wednesday writing cafe straight from work but it was full so I took a wander round Soho and found Cafe Nespresso on Broadwick Street, where the tea is cheap, the hours are late, and the seats are comfortable.

While waiting for Hannah, I did today’s Detox prompt, then launched into the first draft of Shards. This flowed surprisingly easily, based on the outline I put together at the weekend.

I did the next five chapters of notecards for Artisan.



Tonight, after work, I made my way to the cafe in the lobby of the Wellcome Collection, which was bright and spacious, though a little expensive for long writing sessions.

I started with today’s Detox prompt, then completed a review of the musical we went to see on Tuesday. Then I did some more Artisan notecards, and read a chapter of the self editing book.

I finished off by writing the next Colours scene, then headed home.



I did today’s Detox prompt.



Today’s Detox prompt was about building from a piece of writing from earlier in the month, and I didn’t feel like revisiting any of those. I’ve really been enjoying taking the prompt and using it to spark completely new and random writing that I don’t expect to go anywhere. So, I had a look online and signed up for Figment Daily Themes, to keep me going after the Detox has finished.

I also discovered, where you are given a single word and sixty seconds to write about it. I gave it a try and it was fun, though sixty seconds really isn’t that much time!



A whole day at an Urban Writers Retreat! I made my usual list, but struggled a bit with focus.

I started with today’s Detox prompt, then caught up on my reviews. I wrote a GYWO discussion post about finding other writers to build a community (which prompted a lot of good responses). Then I got a bit distracted by a challenge on GYWO where one of the mods provided a list of ten words and participants had to write a short scene with each word included on a separate line. I had no trouble completing mine, but then felt obliged to read and comment on everyone else’s.

I drafted and posted a short fanfic based on a prompt from Fic_Promptly, which was a lot of fun.

I then logged onto Scribophile and did some critiquing to build up points for when I next have a short story to post.

I did some more Artisan notecards until lunch.

After the break, I stuck some music on and launched back in to Colours. I wrote the next two scenes with Marilyn Manson to help me concentrate, then had some cake as a reward.

Next up was a chapter of the self-editing book, and then I did some more drafting of Shards. The only thing left on my list after that, which I hadn’t put any time into yet, was typing up notes, so I picked a file from my phone and typed up the notes I took last year on a book about creating good titles.

I used up the rest of the time doing some more critiques on Scribophile and some more Artisan notecards.

So, I spent time on all my different types of writing projects today, though necessarily didn’t do a huge amount on any of them. Still, lots of work overall, and I’m quite pleased with what I achieved.


Posted on 15 January 2018 14:41


Writing every day, which is very unusual for me. Some days, it was just the Writers’ Block Detox prompt, but it all counts!



I made my way to Good and Proper to meet Ann, not feeling particularly enthused. I decided just to work on one thing at a time, see how it went and not feel bad if I didn’t tick everything off my list.

I started with today’s Detox prompt, which turns out to be a good way to kick off a writing day. I might have to look into signing up for a daily prompt email from somewhere after this month is over, to cultivate a habit of freewriting most days.

Then I moved on to the next scene of Colours, which I should really have done the day before, as I tend to write them in pairs and only managed one at the pub.

I looked at my Artisan revision plan and started charting where the important turning points are, versus where my editor thinks they should be, and it ended up looking like I would have to switch part of the timeline in an impossible way. I decided I needed to spend some time creating a new set of notecards based on the current draft, to make it easier to see the book as a whole and shift things around without getting confused. Revision on this novel is taking longer than I intended and I’m really not getting on with it as much as I planned.

I typed up a set of notes on my phone from a book I read several years ago, about how to make lasting change in your habitual behaviours. It was interesting to realise that I’ve been applying the principles of the book pretty consistently over the intervening years without consciously thinking about it.

I read the next chapter of the self-editing book and made notes.

Considering I have a lot to do on my big projects, but still want to keep my hand in on shorter projects, I went through my upcoming submissions spreadsheet and picked one with a deadline about six weeks away, to see if I can write a new short story. I brainstormed around the required theme and genre for a bit, using some of the plot generation resources in my collection.



I did today’s Detox prompt.



I got my copy of Life Plus 2M Volume 2 in the post today, which has my short story, The Turtle, in it. It wasn’t a paid publication, but I like the editor a lot and I think his project is worthwhile, so I was happy to contribute and also buy a copy of the book.

I was suffering from a severe lack of motivation when I left work today, which wasn’t helped by discovering my usual Wednesday writing cafe was no longer there! But, I persevered, found somewhere else to park myself, and set to work.

I started with today’s Detox prompt and felt instantly better once I had a few hundred words on the page. I really do like this new habit of starting my scheduled writing sessions with five minutes of random free-writing.

I then moved on to the next Colours scene.

I started my Artisan notecards by working through the current draft and creating a card for each scene, detailing the characters, word count, setting and brief action points.

I had a long chat with Hannah after she arrived, which is always good, then did some planning for the weekend. And then, in the last ten minutes, most of the plot for the new short story I brainstormed on Monday just popped into my head, which was unexpected and awesome.

I’m so glad I didn’t wimp out on this writing date!



I did today’s Detox prompt.



I did today’s Detox prompt, and also wrote a review for this year’s Wordy Birds Reading Challenge. I also thought about some fanfiction ideas that are noodling around in my head, though I have no idea when I’ll ever have time to write them.



Today was going to be a complete day off, but an impromptu catch-up with Geena turned into a writing date. So, I did today’s Detox prompt, and wrote a review for a book I finished last week.

Then I wrote a blog post I’d been meaning to get to for a few days and carried on with my Artisan notecards for a bit.

I read the next chapter of the self-editing book, which was the most interesting so far, all about ensuring you spend time and details on aspects of your story proportionate to their importance.



I went to a London writing meetup at the St Pancras clock tower for the day. We had a bit of a slow start, while the organiser got to grips with the lights and heating, and everyone introduced themselves, but it was a nice bunch of people and an interesting new place to write.

I started, as usual now, with today’s Detox prompt, then went on to more Artisan notecards. I’m really not sure how useful those are going to be for the revision, but it’s a good way to get the whole story back in my head, if nothing else, and I’m hoping they’ll help with the structural, compression and expansion aspects of the rewrite.

I planned out the next few scenes of Colours and added them to my outline spreadsheet, then wrote the next one.

I read the next chapter of the self-editing book and made notes, reminding myself of important things like not explaining the emotion behind dialogue. Then I launched into a short piece of Stargate fanfiction for Fic_Promptly, which I’d been thinking about most of the week. As usual, it was just a case of getting started, and then it flowed perfectly, and I felt good about creating something complete, even if it was less than 500 words.

After lunch, I went back to the Artisan notecards and got through to the end of Chapter Ten. It was already proving useful because I got to a couple of the parts that need work and some interesting ideas presented themselves as to how to fix some problems, so I noted those down for future reference.

I brainstormed the short story I came up with on Wednesday and firmed up the outline. It’s for an anthology submission with the theme of ‘shards’, so that’s what I’m calling it at the moment. It developed into quite a complex tale, which I’m excited to start writing. I have no idea how long it’s going to be, but I hope I can finish it in time to get some feedback on it before the submission deadline.

Then I wrote the next scene of Colours, which is still flowing quite well, though I think it’s a bit all over the place. I’m just getting the words down for now, but I think it’s going to need quite a lot of structural work at the revision stage. I’m still enjoying it, though, which is the main thing.

I finished off the day by typing up some notes from a book I read last year on dialogue and subtext, which is something the first developmental edit I got done on Artisan highlighted as a particular problem for me. So, it was useful to revisit these notes now I’m launching into proper revision on Artisan.


Posted on 13 January 2018 15:42

I was reading the latest issue of Mslexia the other day, and came across a quote from Gretchen Rubin, which says: “The reward for a good habit is the good habit, and that’s the reward to give yourself.”


This has certainly been the case for me recently with my writing. I’m still submitting to competitions and anthologies, but less often now I’m focusing on my two novels. And I do have plans to try and get those novels published, at least one of them later this year. But, at the moment, the writing itself is the point.


I’m also trying to cultivate better habits with my writing, helped along by my 120 habit pledge for Get Your Words Out this year. My plan is to do a significant amount of writing on 3-4 days each week and, so far, it’s not proving difficult. That’s because, given a free day, or an evening opportunity, the thing I most want to do is pack a bag full of writing supplies, repair to a cafe that does good tea, and spend a few hours working on my various writing projects.


I’m not forcing myself to write, with a view to getting the reward of publication, or even to reward myself with a treat once I feel I’ve done enough for the day. Meeting up with a good friend, and sharing table space while really getting on with stuff turns out to be a treat in and of itself. And this is very much a good thing, because it means writing doesn’t feel like a chore, and it makes the inevitable rejections that much easier to bear, since publication is just an added bonus on top of an activity that is already an achievement just because I’m doing it.


My biggest problem now is remembering to schedule in some relaxation time. Even though I’m enjoying my writing, it still takes effort and energy, and I’ve found it can be very draining if I spend several hours on writing projects on every free day I have outside my day job. So, if I want to keep my good habit up, I need to pace myself and acknowledge that I do need some time off every now and then, as well.





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Posted on 08 January 2018 12:12



Lots of focus on writing this week, but I perhaps overestimated how much my brain would be prepared to put up with. It’s good to have lots of things to work on, but I need to be realistic about what I can achieve, and also make sure I schedule in time to relax!




I created a new tracking spreadsheet for both words and number of days worked on writing projects in 2018. My GYWO pledge for this year is 120 days, but I’m hoping to exceed that by quite a bit, and I’m still going to track my words as well.


I posted my final reviews of 2017 and also totalled my reviewing stats for the year.


I helped Bear post his photos from New Year.


I made a comprehensive list in my Self Journal for tomorrow’s planned full writing day.


I found and joined a fanfiction prompt comm on Dreamwidth because I’d like to write more fanfiction this year as a regular thing, and the previous weekly prompt competition I took part in seems to have ceased. I don’t know where I’m going to find the time for this, but I decided to subscribe for a bit anyway to see what happens.


I submitted a short piece to a literary magazine.




I set off for Good and Proper early, so as to get a full day’s project work done before dinner in town.


I had an ambitious list on the first page of my Self Journal, and launched in with the next two scenes of Colours. I really have no idea what I’ve got with that, but it’s trucking along nicely, with me planning two or three scenes ahead each time. At some point, I’ll have to give it a read-through to see it if works, and then properly plan out the second half, but I’m happy just adding new words at the moment.


One of the things I want to add to my usual scheduled writing time this year is reading reference books about writing, so I finished a chapter of Wonderbook and wrote notes on it.


I’d decided I wanted to keep up with some short, speedy composition while working on the two novels, so I brainstormed some ideas for this week’s Hour of Writes prompt (A to Z). I then tried freewriting a possible entry and came up with something completely different to any of my notes. It wasn’t great, but there were some bits I liked and it at least allowed me to feel like I had created something new, which was complete. I’m not expecting to get a very high score for it, but never mind.


Then I went through my revision notes for Artisan and made a structured plan with the series of steps I need to take to create a new outline for the next draft. It felt good to put this into a proper list, so it felt more like an achievable project, rather than just a huge and insurmountable void.


I moved tracks again and wrote a brief piece of fanfiction, based on one of the day’s prompts in Fic Promptly. New year, new fandom - My Little Pony, of course!


I went back to my Self Journal and completed a to-do list for my next scheduled writing day on Saturday, as well as reflecting on today’s accomplishments.


I finished up an awesomely productive day by typing up some notes from an old notebook, and thus achieved progress on all the different types of writing projects I had planned to do over the course of the day.




Charlie from Urban Writers Retreat always starts the year by running what she calls Writer's Block Detox, which consists of daily writing prompts emailed to those taking part for a month. The idea is to set a timer for five minutes and just free write whatever comes to mind. I certainly don’t have a problem with writer’s block at the moment, but I decided to take part anyway, because it’s useful to loosen up the writing muscles in this way, and fun to produce very short, random bits of fiction that are unconnected to my mammoth novel projects. So, today, I took a few minutes out of my working day to complete today’s prompt.




I went through the annotated version of Artisan with my husband’s comments on it, changed various things in the current text, and added new sections to the master revision plan. It seemed like an awful lot of work still to do, but I’m quite excited to get back into it.


I completed one review of an audiobook I finished this week.


I did the Detox prompt of the day, which had a very different feel to yesterday and didn’t produce as many words, but was still interesting.


I did my marking for Hour of Writes - I’d forgotten about this aspect of the competition when I decided to start doing it again, but it’s not too much of a chore, really.


Charlie and Amie, who ran the Six Month Novel Programme last year, sent me a book about editing for Christmas, so I read the first chapter and made notes.


I didn’t get nearly as much done as I would have done out of the flat for the day, but it was progress at least.




In the morning, I reviewed my plan for Artisan and saw that it was good.


I also read the next chapter of the self-editing book, and added the various opportunities from this month’s Writing Magazine to my rolling submissions spreadsheet.


Despite the desire to stay in my warm flat and just watch TV for the rest of the day, I went out early to a Let’s Write Together session. I started with today’s Writers Detox prompt, and then went on to write some more Colours.


The other people attending the writing session either didn’t turn up, or didn’t spot me in the crowded pub, and the environment wasn’t proving conducive to productivity, so I left after about an hour. I thought about trying to do more when I got home but decided I was trying to do too much with my weekend and gave myself the rest of the day off to relax instead.


Posted on 02 January 2018 13:21


Not too much done this week, but more than I expected, so  good end to the year!



I had some random inspiration about a major plot point in Colours so wrote some hasty notes to ensure I didn’t lose the new ideas.



I hadn’t intended to write anything on the fiction front today, but Colours started writing itself in my head, so I gave in and switched a few things around in earlier scenes before starting the next one.

I caught up on my reviews and wrote a blog post, reflecting on my writing year and looking forwards to specific plans for 2018.


Posted on 29 December 2017 14:38


The end of December is always a time for reflection and for looking forward, so I will stick with tradition and do both, in terms of my writing.

This year, I've learned that scheduling writing time and sticking to it is always the right choice. Even when I'm feeling low and exhausted, I can still get useful stuff done - and spending the whole day at a cafe, making progress on writing projects has become my favourite thing to do.

But I've also learned that I shouldn't restrict myself to working on writing only during scheduled time. I can and should do it in odd moments at home and at work, as well. I’m really glad that GYWO has introduced Habit Pledges for next year, whereby you track the number of days you spend working on writing projects, rather than the number of new words you write, as I’m hoping this will help me to maximise my writing time.

However, most of all, I've learned that writing is something that will always be a part of my life, in one way or another. At a particularly low point this year, I actually decided to pack it all in and stop writing, because life would be so much easier and less stressful that way. That plan lasted about half an hour. This is not something I can give up, no matter how tough it gets. But it’s important that I’m clear about why I’m doing it and what I’m getting out of it.

Yes, my ultimate ambition is to get a novel published, and I’ll be working hard towards that goal next year. But if my planned schedule turns out to be unrealistic, or I find trying to whip my first novel into shape is more of a chore than a pleasure, then I may have to rethink. I’ve had a lot of enjoyment in writing and submitting short pieces over the last couple of years, and I don’t want to lose sight of that.

So, next year is going to be about making detailed plans, maximising the amount of time (and number of days) I spend working on my writing, but also trying to keep a balance between different types of projects, as well as making sure I have time to rest and do other things. Easy, right?

I have a new planning method (Self Journal) to try, I have a tentative plan to get Artisan ready to submit to Winchester Writers Festival, I’ll attempt to get a first draft of Colours done by then too. But my daily writing task lists will also include journalling, GYWO discussion posts, reviews, Hour of Writes and/or Fandom Weekly, revision/creation of short fiction, fanfiction exchange events, and reading reference books about writing. That’s a lot to keep going all at once, and may well prove impossible. But I’m going to give it a try and see how it goes.

And, if it turns out I’m being way too ambitious, I’ll have to re-evaluate, decide on my priorities, and either cut some things out of rotation or extend all the deadlines so I can keep working on everything all at once.

Regardless of how things work out, here’s to many more writing days at Good and Proper, and a productive and joyful writing year in 2018!




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Posted on 24 December 2017 20:47



I managed to work on writing projects every day of my week off before Christmas, which was satisfying, and made me feel better about taking some time off over the festive period. Big plans for the New Year, though!




An interminable trip to Lowestoft gave me the opportunity to write the next two scenes of Colours, and the only slightly less interminable trip back saw me doing some brainstorming on one of the main characters’ motivations.




I met Geena in Richmond for a writing session at Petersham Nurseries, but didn’t feel very focused. I wanted to get stuck into using my new Self Journal to plan the first few weeks of 2018, but I accidentally left the instruction manual at home. Instead, I wrote a list of all the various things I want to work on, with proposed deadlines for the main sections, creating a rough (and very challenging plan) for January to mid-June. I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but we’ll see!


I took a look at a flash fiction piece from earlier in the year to see if I could expand it for submission to an upcoming anthology, but decided I’d rather leave it as it is, since I think it works well at its current length. I haven’t been submitting short pieces as much in recent months, and I think it might be difficult to fit new short work into the schedule for next year, if I’m going to work on both novels. It may be necessary for me to prioritise and let go of some stuff if I’m going to stay sane.


I did some freewriting for a different magazine submission, with a limit of 300 words, and it was good to just let myself write whatever came to mind without a larger plan. I managed a first pass that took me by surprise in the direction it took.


In the evening, I had a video call with Charlie and Amie, who gave me some excellent advice on copy-editing and revising my current Artisan draft.




I remembered to pack the instruction booklet for my Self Journal today, so I started my writing date with Ann by reading through it and making some notes on scheduling. I completed the overall goals section and put a reminder in my calendar to start using the journal in the New Year. It seems like something that will be helpful in maximising my productivity, but we’ll see.


I typed up and edited yesterday’s 300-word piece and added it to my list of things ready to submit.


I went through my notes from Amie’s editorial feedback on Artisan and organised them into categories, then typed them up to provide an action plan for attacking the revision in the New Year.


I wrote a scene of Colours and planned the next three.


I typed up a whole load of notes from both an old and my current notebooks.


I finished off my session by reading some writing resources I had accumulated and saved for later over the last few months.




I had an unexpected moment of inspiration about a problem I’ve been having with part of the main plot arc of Colours, so I wrote some hurried notes on the train in an effort not to forget it.




I submitted a short piece to a magazine and scheduled some more submissions where the window doesn’t open until early January.




I wrote the next scene of Colours and made some notes about things to think about for later in the story.




I added some bits to a couple of earlier scenes in Colours, to bring in one of the major plot threads I had so far missed out.


Posted on 17 December 2017 15:45


Lots of plans to think about for next year - and hopefully some more stuff to achieve this year.



Very slow start to my writing date with Ann today. I still felt scattered and it was hard to get on with stuff.

I eventually started with this month’s discussion post for GYWO, which was about organising a first draft. I felt it was quite an apropos topic for me, after last week’s feedback on Artisan and my current difficulties with plotting Colours.

Then I helped Bear with a post about last weekend’s writing retreat in Devon.

After that, I couldn’t ignore it anymore, and had to start thinking about the teething problems I’m having with Colours. After an awesome start to the first draft, I ran out of steam a bit, and have realised there’s a lot more thinking and planning I need to do before I can really carry on. So, I broke out my A4 hardback notebook, gave myself a double page spread of space and did some brainstorming.

Then I decided I would feel better about my productivity for the day if I added some actual words to Colours, so I wrote the next scene.

Amie sent through in-depth answers to my questions about Artisan, and it was all very encouraging. I started looking forward to getting back into working on that novel, which was a surprise.

I spent the last section of the writing date typing up notes from an old notebook, which felt useful but was also really easy, as my brain was giving up by that point.

My writing day was rounded up by getting confirmation that the publisher who first offered to pay for one of my stories (back in July last year) has gone out of business - before my story ever saw print. Hey ho - I’m frankly surprised it’s not happened more often, but it’s an unfortunate end to my first supposed publication success.



I made notes from a new Scribophile critique I received on my flash fiction piece, and also added to my Artisan revision notes from Amie’s further feedback.

I got the final proof of an anthology story that’s coming out soon and checked for mistakes before confirming back to the editor that I was happy with it.



I caught up on my reviews and submitted some stories to publishers and competitions.


Posted on 11 December 2017 13:01



Lots of stuff whirring around in my head at the moment, which makes me feel a bit scatty, but it’s exciting (if a bit daunting) to have two big projects I love on the go.




Last morning at the Devon writing retreat and I completed one more scene of the new novel to get me up over 10,000 words written over the course of the four-day weekend. Woohoo!




Another day where I nearly cancelled my writing date with Hannah but was glad I didn’t because I got quite a bit more of the new novel done, as well as a blog post about motivation and productivity.


I also started a short story for the romance anthology I came up with the idea for last week.


On the train on the way home, I received the developmental edit on the first novel (Artisan) from my editor, Amie, and was instantly horrified by the amount of work it implied I still had to do. But I took her advice and tried not to over-react. Instead, I read it through once, took a deep breath, and decided to come back to look at it in a calmer fashion later in the week.




A whole day all to myself in Good and Proper. I made a list of things to work on, but felt quite relaxed about it because I knew I had several more writing sessions scheduled in the near future.


I started, as usual, by catching up on my reviews.


I made some amendments to the new novel (Colours), adding in some location detail to anchor the main plotline in the UK.


Then I reread the developmental edit of Artisan and made detailed notes - stuff I agreed should change, questions I had about some of the feedback, and queries regarding other feedback I’ve received that wasn’t raised here. Then I sent Amie a lengthy email with all my questions. It still seems like there’s a lot of work to do (and most of it I have no idea how to approach), but it felt like something I’d like to work on, rather than a horrible misery burden.


Artisan revisions are my main project for the start of 2018, though. So, I finished off my session by writing the next scene of Colours. I’m going to have to do a lot of careful planning if I want to keep both novels on the go in the first part of next year. I hope it will be possible, but we shall see.




Geena and I brainstormed Colours for a bit, always a good idea because she comes up with really interesting directions for the story to go and just gifts them to me. It’s a great partnership because she’s really good at inspiration but very happy for me to do all the work, and I need the ideas infusion but want to maintain ultimate control of the writing.


Posted on 06 December 2017 18:41

The plan was all there. I spent a month brainstorming, outlining and cogitating. I felt excited about the story, and confident that I could make it good. I booked a writing retreat in the middle of nowhere for the first weekend in December, ready to crack on with the first draft of the new novel.


And then it hit. That awful, sinking, nauseous feeling that flows over me whenever I contemplate actually starting. I imagined being holed up in the cottage, with all the time in the world over three days, to write and write and write. And I couldn’t see myself doing it.


So, I got my trusty tablet out of my bag and made myself start writing on the train. I managed a scene, knew where I was going next with it, and felt more confident about making progress over the course of the weekend. But it was hard and it was painful.


The weekend unfolded in much the same vein. I made myself write two scenes at a time, then gave myself a bit of time off to read or watch TV and knit. But even though the scenes followed one after the other, and the writing flowed pretty well - I had to make myself do it. At any given moment during the weekend, I would rather have not had to do it.


And, when it comes right down to it, I didn’t have to do it. The only one creating this schedule and forcing myself to get words down on the page is me. So why do I do it to myself?


Of course, it’s not always as hard as it was this weekend - though I do generally find it tough to do more than a thousand words of new material in a day, even if I have the whole day free to do it. And I was incredibly pleased with my amassed count of 10,164 words overall for the weekend. And I love the story I’m writing. So maybe that’s why I do it. The product is worth the pain of producing it.


I did have about half an hour, a couple of months ago, when I contemplated giving the whole thing up. Just not writing any more. Kaput. Nothing. Ever again.


It had a certain appeal. I could do whatever I wanted with my free time, without that voice always nagging at me that I ought to be writing. Maybe I wouldn’t resent my day job so much. I’d probably be more relaxed. I might get more sleep.


But it didn’t happen. I don’t think I even took a whole week off. Because the ideas were still there, and they weren’t going to go away. And the excitement was still there, bubbling up through the fatigue and the uncertainty to take hold of my brain.


For example, today I had a mental health blip. I went back to my desk after lunch, and it felt like I was hauling myself uphill through hip-deep sludge. I really struggled to achieve anything all afternoon, and had to force myself to do the smallest tasks, in a much more aggressive way than I had with the writing at the weekend. All I wanted to do was crawl home, curl up in front of the TV and eat chocolate.


Then, just before I left work, my subconscious crew came through like heroes, right on schedule, with the next two scenes of the new novel. I had been thinking most of the day that I had no idea where I was going next with it, and suddenly the path was clear. I can’t say I exactly skipped out of the office to meet my friend for our writing date in the cafe round the corner. But I went. And I sat down and I wrote my two scenes. And I already know what the next two are.


So, it doesn’t look like I’ll be quitting any time soon. But, wow, have I picked a tough hobby!




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