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Posted on 16 June 2019 21:10

Summary:

Reasonably slow come-back after a break, but still good progress on both novels and a couple of other bits completed as well.

 

Wednesday:

Still finding my feet after last week's total break on retreat. I brainstormed ideas for an upcoming flash competition and wrote a 100-word story for another upcoming submission.

 

Thursday:

Trying out a new writing location - Cafe Piazza in Hay’s Galleria. A bit loud but convenient.

Today I launched back into Colours, which was scary because I’d reached the crossover point between revising stuff that was already written and embarking into blank page territory. I do have an outline but it was still a bit nerve-wracking. However, I forged onwards and got two new scenes done.

Then I did this month’s GYWO discussion post and wrote a blog post about my retreat experience from last week.

 

Friday:

I wrote a review of an audiobook.

 

Saturday:

I took the opportunity of a free day at home to complete the corrections on Artisan that my parents had found in their read-through, as this was much easier on a PC than on a tablet.

I also submitted a short piece of fiction for a competition.

 

Posted on 13 June 2019 12:54

I’ve talked a lot in various blog entries about finding brain space, not taking on too much and trying not to put myself under too much pressure with my writing. But last week, I had an entirely new experience of taking a complete break from everything.

 

I went on a retreat at The Sharpham Trust down in Devon, called “Creating Space - a Mindfulness and Creative Enquiry Retreat”. Based on a cursory perusal of the information on the website, I originally booked it back in December because I thought it would combine meditation and mindfulness activities with opportunities to work on my creative projects in a restful setting.

 

As the time for the retreat approached, however, I started reading more about it and realised it wasn’t going to be what I thought. The pre-travel guidance talked about letting go of all the obligations of normal life, switching off entirely from the outside world and focusing on being rather than doing. I was apprehensive going in, but decided to adhere as much as I could to the spirit of the endeavour.

 

I duly finished off any projects that would create a sense of pressure during that week, and also got to a good breaking off point with both novels. I deleted all my calendar reminders for the week and decided to try keeping my phone switched off the whole time (I didn’t succeed at this, but only checked it for five minutes once a day to clear my email and I didn’t go on the internet at all).

 

So, instead of having a plan of all the things I was going to do and all the things I wanted to achieve, I spent four days without a to-do list and with no expectations of myself other than engaging with the scheduled activities.

 

And it was wonderful!

 

My inner critic (hi, Winston!) popped up on the first day, to let me know how unproductive he felt we were being and how much precious potential writing time we were wasting. But I calmly acknowledged his concerns and then dismissed them.

 

I did yoga, I meditated, I was led around the garden with my eyes closed, I danced with a bamboo stick, I drew freeform pictures with crayons, I went on long walks without any digital entertainment, I spent about 40 hours in complete silence, I ate amazing vegetarian food, and I connected on an unexpected level with both myself and the other people in the group.

 

I filled almost an entire exercise book with reflective thoughts on my experience, but I didn’t work on any of my writing projects, and it felt great. If I’d known when I booked the retreat exactly what it would entail, I never would have gone, but I’m so glad I did it and I enjoyed every minute.

 

I’ve struggled a bit this week with being back in London, having to go to work, and trying to get back into a proper writing schedule. But I’m doing a good job of maintaining a greater sense of inner calm and trying not to be too focused on timings, goals and productivity all the time. There’s definitely a balance - obviously, there are things I want to achieve with my time and they require effort, attention and planning. But creating more space in my daily life for being rather than doing, and adding reflective and meditative activities to my schedule more, has had a profound effect on my sense of personal contentment.

 

I hope I’ll be able to maintain this new attitude in the long term. And, if I find I can’t, I can always go on another Sharpham retreat to remind myself of the benefits!

 

Posted on 09 June 2019 14:44

Summary:

A welcome proper break from writing this week, with no guilt and a lot of reflection. Looking forward to picking it all back up again in the week coming.

 

Monday:

I did some more Artisan edits based on feedback from my parents, then set off on retreat.

 

Tuesday to Friday:

The retreat was about mindfulness and creativity but I didn’t do any work on actual writing projects while I was there. I did, however, write a ton of reflective analysis and reactions to my experiences in a journal I took specifically to record the events of the retreat.

 

Sunday:

I added a note to my website about the guest blog post I did for Well-Storied.

I wrote a review after the previous night’s cinema trip and did some planning for getting back into writing again properly next week.

 

Posted on 02 June 2019 15:51

Summary:

I gave myself a deadline of the end of this week to complete my edits on Artisan and get to the end of Colours Part One - and I succeeded with both! I also managed a fair few other writing targets, not least of which was clearing my submissions list. Fly, my pretties, fly!

 

Monday:

I started going through Hannah’s edits of selected Artisan scenes.

 

Tuesday:

I went through another couple of the Artisan scenes Hannah had edited.

 

Wednesday:

I finished working through Hannah’s Artisan edits and slotted all the amended scenes back into the main manuscript. Then I wrote a few more scenes of Colours, getting to the end of Part One.

 

Thursday:

I headed out early to Picturehouse Central and started with a review of the film I watched the night before.

Then I edited Chapter Twenty-Eight of Artisan.

I decided to complete one more GYWO Yahtzee entry before the deadline and thought trying some poetry might be fun. So I wrote five terrible poems to fulfil the Full House scoring requirements.

That finished off my current notebook so I typed up the notes I wanted to save and said a fond farewell to it. Always exciting to start a new notebook, though!

 

Friday:

I submitted a story for an anthology whose deadline was today.

I also wrote a couple of brief reviews.

Then I finished off editing the last three chapters of Artisan and sent it off to Dave and my parents for a sense-check. So much has changed and been taken out, I was worried it wouldn’t be coherent for someone unfamiliar with the story and I didn’t think I would be able to spot potential problem areas myself.

 

Saturday:

I did some editing and completed some submissions.

My dad called to tell me he’d read the first two chapters of Artisan and thought there was a marked improvement from the last iteration, which was encouraging. He gave me some edits, which I did on the spot.

 

Sunday:

I entered this week’s Fandom Weekly competition and wrote a review.

Then I did some more editing of Artisan from comments from my mum, and also completed some more submissions.

 

Posted on 27 May 2019 15:12

Summary:

Another productive week, particularly on the novels front. And also some great news of publication acceptances. So good all round.

 

Monday:

Another reviewing day at the Brighton Fringe.

I decided to get the train down early to write before my first show and cracked on with five more Colours scenes on the train.

After lunch, I claimed a spot in the Werks Cafe and edited Artisan Chapters Twenty-Five to Twenty-Seven.

Then I attended three shows and wrote and submitted all three reviews.

And on the way home, I got an email saying a short story I wrote earlier in the year has been accepted for the anthology it was written for, which was very pleasing.

 

Tuesday:

I went to a Write and a Pint workshop in the evening, which was a lot of fun and generated some ideas for new stories.

 

Wednesday:

I heard back that four out of my five submissions to a particular anthology had been accepted for publication, which was lovely.

I wrote a review of the book I finished the night before.

 

Thursday:

In anticipation of Ann being available to meet up again on Thursdays from mid-June, I ventured to Bermondsey to scout out possible cafes. The Watch House looked delightful but really tiny, so I settled in Hej Coffee just round the corner. Not the best tea selection, but good enough for occasional visits and the outside tables will likely be pleasant over the summer. Until I discovered they don’t have a customer toilet. Hey ho.

I started off with a review

Then I turned my attention to my WIP Big Bang story, as snippets were due for posting by Saturday. I managed to put together some excerpts and submit them. It was really fun to get back into writing a long fanfic, even if I was just editing, rather than writing something new.

 

Friday:

I wrote another review - I finished a lot of books this week!

I finished and posted my third entry for the GYWO Yahtzee competition, keeping myself hopefully firmly at the top of the leaderboard.

Then I went back to Perfection and edited it based on Scribophile comments. 

 

Saturday:

I went into London early to take advantage of a couple of hours before meeting my mum for lunch.

I did some planning to ensure I had enough days to complete the first draft of Colours within the Six Month Novel Programme timeframe and updated my list of current projects.

Then I cracked on with the remaining scenes of Colours Part One, ready to submit my May words for SMN on Monday.

 

Posted on 19 May 2019 21:46

Summary:

Three really great writing sessions this week and tons of progress on all sorts of projects. It wasn’t always easy, but I stuck to the plan rather than the mood and ended up achieving a lot. Between one thing and another, I wrote over 10,000 words this week, which is several thousand more than I’ve managed in any other week so far this year.

 

Monday:

After years of promising, I finally made it to Harrow today to meet up with Geena on her home turf. The venue was the delightful Miriam’s Munchies and I had some writing time before Geena arrived, so I started with a few reviews.

Then I went back to GYWO Yahtzee and worked on my second entry. I ended up writing a whole 1500 word story, in five sections, which I can easily submit elsewhere. So I posted it on Scribophile for feedback and then did some critiques to get my points back up.

Later I chatted to Geena about one of my story ideas and she came up with a fantastic way to resolve it.

 

Wednesday:

I found out today that I won this week’s Just Back travel writing competition in the Telegraph! By far my biggest success, in terms of both publication circulation and financial reward.

I met Hannah after work and edited Artisan Chapter Twenty-Two.

I did some planning for later in the week, and then completed an in-depth Scribophile critique to get my points up.

 

Thursday:

I took myself to Waterstones on Tottenham Court Road for a writing session, starting off by catching up on Colours. I did the next eight scenes, bringing me back on target in the schedule.

I did some planning for later in the week and then edited the next two chapters of Artisan.

After much faffing and procrastinating, I finally put some words down for a first draft of Perfection, a short story I’ve been planning for some time, the deadline for which was fast approaching. As usual, once I actually got started, it all flowed pretty well.

Then I started work on my next GYWO Yahtzee entry after discovering I was currently at the top of the leaderboard.

I did another Scribophile critique and also went through the comments on the story I posted on Monday, making amendments to the first draft and compiling notes for more extensive revisions.

Later in the evening, I went to a workshop on fantasy writing with Tade Thompson. It was great - we brainstormed ideas around one specific fantastical scenario and then each developed our own story from that and a set of collaboratively created characters. And now I have another potential novel idea to add to my list…

 

Friday:

I went back to the beginning of Colours and did another pass, trying to get all the individual scenes over 400 words and a bit more dynamic.

 

Saturday:

I wrote a review of a book I finished the night before.

 

Sunday:

Whole day’s writing with Urban Writers’ Retreat.

I started with a review of John Wick 3, then completed the first draft of Perfection and posted it on Scribophile for comments. Then I went back to Colours and completed making all the scenes at least 400 words, adding another 1400 words to the manuscript as a whole. I’m going to stick to this word count for scenes going forwards, which makes me feel a bit better about how long the first draft is going to be once completed.

I turned to this week’s Fandom Weekly challenge for a bit of light relief.

Next, I completed another piece for my third GYWO Yahtzee set and completed edits to my short story from Monday.

 

Posted on 12 May 2019 19:42

Summary:

I can just about claim another 7-day writing streak this week. I’m also pleased with my completion/submissions rate and feeling enthusiastic about some short story ideas in development.

 

Monday:

Just doing bits of writing at home today. I cut down a travel writing article to fit a competition and submitted it.

 

Tuesday:

I did the next two scenes of Colours and also reviewed Avengers: Endgame.

 

Wednesday:

I received edits on a story that’s going to be published in a magazine soon, so I went through them and sent back the final version. I also edited Artisan Chapter Twenty-One.

Then I started a new fanfiction in response to Avengers: Endgame.

 

Thursday:

My fanfic woke me up in the middle of the night to let me know how it ought to end, so I got up to write the rest of it before I forgot.

 

Friday:

I edited and posted my Avengers fic.

On the train up to Chester, I consolidated my potential submissions list and had a think about what might and might not be possible, so as to clarify what I should be working on.

I wrote a 100-word story for an anthology submission and amended an old piece of flash fiction to fit an upcoming competition.

After spending most of the afternoon either reading or asleep, I had a sudden burst of enthusiasm in the early evening and went back to writing projects.

I wrote two more drabbles, experiencing tremendous satisfaction when the second one turned out to be exactly 100 words on the first attempt. Then I generated potential ideas for another submission opportunity and made some notes for my next GYWO Yahtzee entry.

 

Saturday:

I wrote two more 100-word stories to complete a set of five for submission.

 

Sunday:

I formatted and submitted the five drabbles I wrote over the weekend.

 

Posted on 06 May 2019 11:09

Summary:

 

I wrote every day this week and worked on projects in all five of my tracked categories - novels, fanfiction, competitions, non-fiction and blogging. A well-rounded and productive week.

 

Monday:

 

With a theatre trip planned later in the day, I took myself off to Picturehouse Central for a whole day of working on writing projects.

 

I started with a review of the burlesque show I went to on Saturday, followed by a blog post about my current struggles with working on two novels at once.

 

My main task for the day, though, was to go through the first 35 scenes of Colours and try to expand some of the shorter ones so they added up to around 20,000 words for my first month’s output on the Six Month Novel Programme. It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. I added about 1000 words, rather than the planned 4,500, but I decided not to worry about it, as there’s very little point in putting in words just for the sake of it, when they’ll probably have to be taken out again in editing.

 

Tuesday:

 

I finished off April with a review of the previous night’s theatre trip.

 

Wednesday:

 

I finished an audiobook so wrote a review of it.

 

Thursday:

 

I took a welcome trip to Good & Proper for a writing session in the morning. I decided to ignore both novels for the day and work on other stuff.

 

I started off with a Fic Promptly entry to keep up with my plan to write something for every post. Then I wrote my Fandom Weekly entry for the week and also posted that.

 

Then I went to my GYWO Yahtzee prompts and completed a set of linked entries to claim a Large Straight.

 

Friday:

 

I posted my GYWO Yahtzee entry and also wrote a review of the latest book I finished.

 

Saturday:

 

I added submission opportunities to my rolling spreadsheet from this month’s Writing Magazine, then actually did some submissions. I also did the next five scenes of Colours.

 

Sunday:

 

Off to Brighton for the fringe! I was booked to see three shows, and wrote my first review over lunch, completing the other two on the train home.

 

Posted on 29 April 2019 11:00

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been very good at keeping to my schedule for both novels. I intend to send the revised Artisan back to the publisher by the end of May and I’m already two thirds of the way through. The Six Month Novel Programme gives me a detailed schedule for Colours and I’m not having too much trouble keeping up with that. But making revisions to one novel while drafting a second is proving more difficult than I anticipated.

 

Revising and drafting are two very different writing skills and require two very different writing mindsets. The first needs careful attention to detail, keeping track of what effects changes might have, and the weighing of each sentence to judge its worth. The second needs abandonment of doubt, the ability to forge onwards regardless of quality, and the uninhibited pouring of words onto the page.

 

On top of that, with two novel-length, multi-strand plots on the go, I also have to be able to switch between very different worlds when I move from one to the other. Artisan has more whimsy and more magic, while Colours is more real-world but with aliens. They have contrasting voices, tones and structures as well.

 

So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that editing four Artisan chapters and drafting eight Colours scenes per week is a challenge, even though it feels like I’m not really doing that much work at all, in terms of time spent on writing. It generally takes me about ninety minutes to complete my assigned novel-related tasks on any given day, but I then find I don’t have the energy, motivation or focus to work on anything else. So, my short fiction and my fanfic have rather fallen by the wayside during April.

 

But that’s okay. The novels are the priority at the moment, and I’ll be done with Artisan again by the end of May, which will give me more brain space to focus on the more difficult second half of Colours during June and July. Then, I’ll hopefully be ready to take a break from Colours by the time I get any further response from the publisher about Artisan. It’ll be nice to get back to only working on one of them at once.

 

I guess this is the life of a novelist! I assume they must always be working on different stages of at least two books at any one time. There wouldn’t be space in a yearly publication schedule for anything less. And I don’t think many novelists publish a lot of short stories as well, though I know some do produce those as well.

 

Of course, last week my brain decided to go off down a rabbit hole related to the next novel on my list, which I have a certain amount of material for, but which I wasn’t intending to look at again until at least 2020. So my brain apparently has ambitious plans for my writing, and it seems as if novels are what I’ll be mainly focusing on for the foreseeable future (I have a fourth and fifth on my list for eventual development).

 

And, as ever, it’s all about using the time I have available in a productive and efficient way, without driving myself too hard, and whilst paying attention to my need for pure relaxation time, as well as a busy social schedule and three days a week at my office job. It’s a lot to juggle, but I think I’m doing okay with it all at the moment. The most important thing is knowing when to let go of less important or less urgent projects without resenting the time and energy the novels are sucking up right now. If there’s a short story in my head (and there are at least a couple floating around at the moment), they’ll either still be there when I have time to dedicate to them, or they’ll dissipate without attention. There are plenty of submission opportunities coming up that I’ll likely decide not to take up. And that’s fine, not least because there will always be more later on.

 

The desire (and potential opportunity) to see Artisan published in the reasonably near future, and the need to have more material to show the publisher once we’ve hopefully established a relationship, are what’s driving me at the moment. It may sometimes feel repetitive and a bit of a grind. But it’s still where I want to be right now and I’m very lucky to have the ability to be able to pursue these dreams.

 

Posted on 28 April 2019 19:36

Summary:

Mostly slogging away at the novels this week, plus some reviews. But there are short stories ideas percolating, which may turn into something soon.

Monday:

A whole day at home to work on projects, so I set my sights high. I assigned myself Chapters Seventeen and Eighteen of Artisan and the next three scenes of Colours to complete before lunch and managed that in one session.

After lunch, I went through Dave’s five stories and copy-edited them, then posted the fanfiction on AO3, formatted the three original ones and sent him instructions for where to send them for consideration.

Then I went back through all ten weeks of prompts from The Common Weekly Writes and made notes on approaches to both short fiction and non-fiction essays.

I finished another book, so I wrote the review.

 

Tuesday:

I met Hannah for a session after work and started out with Artisan Chapter Nineteen and the next three scenes of Colours.

I had a chat with Hannah about a new short story I'm working on and she had some great ideas for it.

 

Thursday:

Writing at home today. I started with a review of the film I watched over lunch.

Then I did Artisan Chapter Twenty and the next two scenes of Colours (which was starting to feel like a bit of a grind and a very repetitive Weeknotes entry!).

 

Friday:

I wrote reviews of two other films I watched yesterday, and also a game we played on Wednesday.

 

Saturday:

I did a brief session at home, completing the next three scenes of Colours and working out what needed expanding for my longer session on Monday.

 

Sunday:

I did some organising and some planning and some submitting.

 

Posted on 21 April 2019 21:10

Summary:

Lots of good intentions for lengthy writing sessions and really getting back into good habits this week. But I mostly just did my required work on the novels and called it quits.

 

Monday:

I identified the ten scenes in Artisan that would most benefit from Hannah’s sharp editing pen and sent them to her for her attention.

After lunch I knuckled down to Artisan Chapter Thirteen and the next two scenes of Colours.

Later on, I did my first reader review for Six Month Novel.

 

Tuesday:

I did my second SMN reader review and also wrote a review of a recent audiobook.

 

Wednesday:

I went to a writing meetup at the British Library and completed revisions to Artisan Chapter Fourteen, as well as the next three scenes of Colours.

 

Thursday:

I took myself off to Hammersmith reasonably early in the day for a writing session.

I started by reviewing last night’s film choice, then moved on to Artisan Chapters Fifteen and Sixteen, and the next three scenes of Colours.

I wrote my second GYWO discussion post for the month.

 

Saturday:

I posted my GYWO discussion and wrote a review post about books I haven’t managed to finish recently.

Then I set out for an all-day Write And A Pint workshop near Moorgate. We did free-writing exercises and short fiction analysis in the morning, then private writing sessions in the afternoon. The morning generated some interesting short pieces and, in the afternoon, I took a look at my list of upcoming submission opportunities and started brainstorming ideas for some of them. It was great to get away from the novels but still focus on writing all day, as well as having the opportunity to meet and talk to other writers.

 

Sunday:

I finished this month’s Family Book Club book and wrote a review.

I also entered this week’s Fandom Weekly competition.

Then I helped Bear post about today’s trip to Waterbeach.

 

Posted on 14 April 2019 19:53

Summary:

I’m keeping up with the plan for both novels, but not much else. But that’s okay, as they are the most important projects at the moment and are taking a lot of energy.

 

Monday:

I tried another writing day at home and started out with submissions, since that’s always much easier on a PC than a tablet.

I edited a friend’s short story.

I revised Chapter Nine of Artisan and did the next three scenes of Colours, to stay on track with the plan.

 

Wednesday:

I went to Le Pain Quotidien after work and completed Chapter Ten of Artisan and the next two scenes of Colours.

 

Thursday:

A Writers’ Initiative meetup at the National Theatre got me up and out and working relatively early. I focused on my Artisan (Chapters Eleven and Twelve) and Colours (next three scenes) targets first, to achieve my aim for the week. Then I moved on to one of this month’s GYWO discussion posts.

 

Friday:

I wrote two reviews.

 

Sunday:

I posted the first 1000 words of Colours for review by the other Six Month Novellers, and helped Bear with a post about his weekend activities.

 

Posted on 08 April 2019 07:47

Summary:

This week was when the real work started on both novels and I kept to my planned schedule with no problems. I’m not saying the work I did was good, but it got done!

 

Monday:

I finally watched the video of the first Six Month Novel hangout from three weeks ago, which contained lots of sage advice from Amie and Charlie about not freaking out.

I identified some upcoming submission opportunities and found existing pieces of work to send for them.

I also found two old GYWO discussion posts and edited them to fit a couple of calls for articles about writing.

I went through this month’s Writing Magazine (in which one of my competition entries was shortlisted!) and added new submission opportunities to my spreadsheet.

Then I cracked on with the main tasks of revising Chapter Four of Artisan and starting the expansion of Colours with the first two scenes.

 

Wednesday:

I wrote a review for a wonderful show I went to see the night before.

Then I revised Artisan Chapter Five and the next two scenes of Colours.

I typed up the short piece I wrote in last Thursday’s workshop and sent it to the organiser to put up on his website. I wrote a blog post about the ALCS and how amazing it is and also posted about my shortlisted story in this month’s Writing Magazine.

 

Thursday:

I headed to Hounslow several hours early, found a cafe and settled down to work until it was time for my osteopathy appointment.

I polished off Chapter Six of Artisan and another Colours scene. Artisan went well and I felt like I had hit my stride a bit with the editing, but Colours not so much. My outline has a rough plan of 1000 words on average for 100 scenes across the novel and all of them so far have come in way too short. I know there are going to be longer sections later on, that it’s quite good for it to be punchy at the start, that this is only a first draft and that I shouldn’t get hung up on the details at the moment, so I decided to just forge ahead (in Charlie’s patented ‘gloriously craptastic’ style) and figure out if it’s a major problem later.

 

Saturday:

I attended a Just Write Fiction meetup at the British Library. I had my newly minted Reader’s Pass all ready to go, but I prefer refreshments and pens as a staple part of my writing sessions, so (as we were all working independently anyway) I settled myself in the King’s Library Cafe, where it turns out they stock sugar free syrup!

I made a list of all the things I wanted to work on, prioritised them, then started out with Artisan Chapter Seven.

The Australian Writers’ Centre runs a monthly flash fiction competition with a lucrative prize. I signed up for their newsletter a couple of weeks ago and the first prompt came through yesterday. The piece has to be less than 500 words and has to contain the specified elements, both of which are criteria that appeal to me. You have two days to complete and submit an entry so I did a first draft for mine.

I edited the next three scenes of Colours, then did Chapter Eight of Artisan to complete my scheduled work on both novels for the day.

On the way home, I had an epiphany about the climax of Colours so added the new ideas to my outline document.

 

Sunday:

I did some admin, tracking my submissions, identifying pieces to send to upcoming opportunities and selecting a story to send to someone offering free editorial services.

I wrote a review of the play we saw on Friday night, then caught up with my short fanfiction challenges, including this week’s Fandom Weekly entry.

 

Posted on 03 April 2019 18:46

There was an article in Writing Magazine some time ago about The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, suggesting that all published authors should sign up and log their publications on the website. So I did, not really knowing what it was all about.

 

The ALCS collect money for ‘secondary uses’ of writers’ work – such as photocopies, cable retransmission, digital reproduction and educational recording. Now, I don’t understand what most of those things are, or why they would apply to the paltry number of publications I’ve managed to log on the site.

 

Whenever I get something published, one of the things I now do is log it with the ALCS. This requires providing the name of the publisher, the title of the work, the ISBN of the publication and the date it was published.

 

They then do whatever magic investigations they do and collect fees from people who are using that work for the purposes listed above.

 

The ALCS website says:

 

“For many members, we’re a mysterious organisation that sends them a payment every so often. Some even find us secretive. Yet for others, the reality of where the money comes from is possibly too detailed. There are even potential members who think we’re a scam — until their first payment arrives.”

 

As they were featured in Writing Magazine, I knew they weren’t a scam, but I had no real idea what they did and how it might benefit me as a writer. But it was only £36 for lifetime membership, which would be taken off my first payment, rather than as an up-front fee. So I figured why not?

 

Then, last week, based on the fifteen works I currently have registered on the site, I received my first statement. And it was over £400 - after the ALCS had taken their 9.5% cut and the one-off membership fee!

 

I was flabbergasted, not least because this is about four times what I was actually paid in total for the first publication rights of those stories! Even having read the statement, I have no idea where this money has come from (it was listed mostly as “reproduction of journals”). But I’m certainly not complaining.

 

So, if you’ve had anything published in the last few years (I think it has to be logged within a certain amount of time to be eligible), sign yourself up. You never know what might come out of it.

 

Mysterious they may be. But the ALCS can have their 9.5% and gladly. Keep up the good work!

 

Posted on 31 March 2019 18:30

Summary:

Two really productive days of writing this week, with some other useful bits and pieces in between. Plus, I have formulated reasonable plans for finishing both novels. The slump is definitely over!

 

Monday:

I wrote reviews for the weekend’s reading retreat.

I also did some planning for later in the week.

 

Thursday:

I took myself off to Good and Proper and wrote several lists of things I want to do or consider.

I went through this week’s Six Month Novel worksheet and made a plan of what I need to do to complete my outline for submission on Sunday.

I considered the timeline for WIP Big Bang and decided I would like to take part, as I need something fun and different to work on in between both novels.

Then I reread all the feedback on Artisan, as well as my notes on how to proceed and psyched myself up to just get the hell on with it! I went through the first chapter again and managed to revise enough that I was happy it would be clear significant changes had been made.

I took a break and caught up on Fic Promptly fills, as well as completing this month’s Ficlet Zone challenge.

I did a review of the first quarter of 2019 in my Writer’s Diary and planned goals and writing sessions for April.

Then I went back to Artisan and revised Chapter Two.

Later, I went to a great Write and a Pint workshop on the theme of death, where I met some lovely writers and wrote an unexpected short piece that I may develop into something larger.

 

Friday:

I edited the first two chapters of a friend’s novel.

 

Sunday:

It was a Six Month Novel Get It Done Day, so I posted my writing intentions for the day at 10:30am and then faffed around doing lots of chores and life admin until 2:30pm. Then I buckled down and revised Chapter Three of Artisan.

Then I did the main task for the day, which was the Colours official outline. I collated my notes from various worksheets and brainstorming sessions and added Part Two to the outline document I already had. I had to do quite a bit of wrangling but I ended up with a complete picture of the whole novel, which was very satisfying. I sent it off to Amie at SMN for her comments.

I also thought long and hard about WIP Big Bang and came up with a plan that means I can take part and produce a fic to post, but not put myself under too much pressure while working on both the novels. This made me very happy.

I finished off my writing day by helping Bear with his post about last weekend’s reading retreat.

 

Posted on 25 March 2019 15:08

Summary:

Still not really feeling it this week, but much more positive after an awesomely relaxing reading retreat weekend.

 

Monday:

I booked in a session with Ann at the Turk’s Head to provide motivation to at least write something today.

I started out slow and easy with a couple of reviews, then worked my way through some of this week’s tasks for the Six Month Novel Programme.

Later, I made my way to London Bridge for a writers’ coaching session with Claire, who runs the freewriting meetups I go to sometimes. It was great to be able to talk about the motivational issues I’m struggling with at the moment (which Ann really helped me out with earlier in the day as well).

 

Wednesday:

I used some spare time to look at this week’s worksheet from SMN and made some notes on the Colours climax and aftermath.

 

Thursday:

I completed the rest of the SMN worksheet, which provided some great guidance on story architecture and resulted in some new ideas generation for the end of Colours. I also got some really useful feedback and ideas from the other writers in my SMN group in response to my posted synopsis.

 

Friday:

I wrote a review and also dug out the outline for Artisan to have another look at the structure.

 

Posted on 17 March 2019 09:51

Summary:

This was the inevitable week when daily writing became a chore rather than a positive source of motivation. So, I let it go.

 

Monday:

I caught up on reviews and also looked at the worksheets for the first two weeks of the Six Month Novel Programme plotting boot camp.

Then I did a tarot reading for a new short story and brainstormed the resulting ideas.

Later, I did a Ficlet Zone entry.

 

Tuesday:

Back at work after a glorious five days off and I wasn’t really feeling it today in terms of writing, particularly since the death plague that had been going around finally struck me over the weekend.

Still, I managed a review.

 

Wednesday:

On my lunch break, I completed a post for a Fic Promptly request I’d been thinking about all week.

 

Thursday:

I wrote my last Fringe Guru review for this year’s Vaults festival, and also wrote a review of the audiobook I finished earlier in the day.

 

Friday:

I wrote a blog post about my decreasing motivation over the last couple of weeks, and decided to take the weekend off from working on writing projects.

 

Sunday:

I did have to revise and post my Colours synopsis for the Six Month Novel Programme today.

 

Posted on 15 March 2019 15:06

I had such a great start to the year, I guess it was inevitable that it wouldn’t last.

 

In the space of two months, I developed a daily writing habit, wrote six new short stories and two articles, took part in multiple short fanfic challenges, got high praise from someone I respect for my reviewing skills, got a really positive response from a publisher about my first novel, and devised a plan to finish my second novel.

 

And now I’m struggling to find the motivation to write anything at all.

 

The Vaults festival is over, so no more weekly shows and reviews. The fanfic challenges I take part in seem to be taking a couple of weeks off. I’ve had feedback from an editor friend on how to revise Artisan and I don’t know what to do with what she’s suggested, or what to do with what the publisher has asked for. Completing the first draft of Colours seems an insurmountable task with deadlines I’ll never meet. I haven’t had any publication acceptances since November. And I’m not feeling remotely inspired by any of the upcoming short story submissions I could write something for.

 

I’m still just about managing to write every day, though I do feel like I’ve cheated a bit on some days, and it’s starting to feel like a chore rather than something I’m enjoying.

 

Wow - I’m very whiny!

 

Maybe it’s time to let go of my attachment to daily writing. I’ve only ever managed ten days in a row before, so 74 is quite a record! And it’s not something I’ve ever felt very strongly about. I think what I’ll do is give myself the weekend off completely from writing projects, and come back to it fresh on Monday, when I have a writing session planned in town, following by a coaching session by my friend, Claire. I can spend the day taking stock of my various projects and making some new plans (I do love making lists!) and then talk about some of these issues with Claire in the evening. And if I come at it from a place of refreshment, rather than forcing myself to carry on with a habit that’s turned unhelpful, perhaps I can find my energy again.

 

Just coming up with that approach and writing it down has made me feel better. I know this is just a temporary slump and that my writing mojo will return. And I think it’s a case of being kind to myself for a couple of days and enjoying some relaxation, rather than always thinking what I could be writing in every spare minute.

 

Now that sounds like a plan!

 

Posted on 10 March 2019 17:22

Summary:

Trying to sort out the structure for a novel with four viewpoints and four separate timelines turns out to be quite complicated! Definitely time to stop tweaking and actually write the thing now, though...

 

Monday:

I wrote a review.

 

Tuesday:

I realised the new structure for Colours wouldn't work so I rethought and made a plan for an approach that was closer to the original one again.

 

Wednesday:

I attended two Vaults shows and wrote notes for my reviews.

 

Thursday:

I wrote both my Fringe Guru reviews for the week at a Writers Initiative meetup.

Then I went to meet Ann in Wapping and brainstormed this week’s short fanfiction prompts.

I edited The Dilemma, based on my Scribophile critiques.

Then I battled further with the Colours structure and came up with a new plan.

 

Friday:

I added new submission opportunities to my spreadsheet from Writing Magazine and Mslexia.

Then I spent the afternoon happily writing fanfiction, completing five entries for Fandom Weekly and Fic Promptly.

 

Saturday:

I went back to the structural battle for Colours and wrangled my documents into shape via the new plan.

 

Sunday:

I submitted several short stories for potential publication and wrangled the Colour structure some more.

 

Posted on 03 March 2019 18:54

Summary:

Ah, Stickwick! The writing retreat of champions! Five new short pieces completed, lots of brainstorming and a ton of structural work on the second novel. A very productive week.

 

Monday:

I was up early so I found homes for a few unassigned pieces, sending them back out into the world for judgement.

On the train down to Devon, I finished reading my comparison novel in preparation for the Six Month Novel Programme, and completed the worksheet about it.

 

Tuesday:

First full day at Stickwick!

I started with a couple of reviews to ease myself in gently. Then I drafted my GYWO discussion post for March, then wrote a blog post for my website.

I collated all my Colours notes into a central plan, getting my ideas about the story back into my head again ready for intensive work to begin next week.

In the evening, I thought about what I might write for this year's WIP Big Bang and made some research notes.

 

Wednesday:

I woke up bright and early, keen to be productive. 

I reread the last 50 pages of The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet and made notes for the first of my Space Swap assignments. Then I moved on to this week’s prompts from The Common. I really liked the short piece I came up with so I found somewhere to submit it.

I went back to my Space Swap notes and wrote a first draft of the Long Way piece.

I did another Scribophile critique to get my points back up to where I can post again.

I got some feedback on a recent short story from a fellow writer, so I made the requisite edits.

Just before lunch, the introductory Six Month Novel email came through so I worked through all the information after lunch, then went back to my Colours notes and did some more planning.

I did some ideas generation for a couple of upcoming submission opportunities.

 

Thursday:

I felt very keen again this morning and started with a list of planned objectives for the day.

First up was going back to the first half of Colours and making the specific changes suggested by the editor who looked at it over Christmas. Then I went through the scenes on my new plan and put together an order for what I already have and identified where the gaps are that need to be filled with new scenes.

I did the required research for my second Space Swap assignment and put together a first draft of that. Then I found an old flash fiction piece and adapted it to fit an upcoming competition. The results of another competition I had entered came out and I hadn’t been successful so I edited the story from that to be submitted elsewhere.

I brainstormed this week’s Fandom Weekly entry and eventually came up with an idea so I wrote and posted it.

 

Friday:

The four-hour train journey home seemed like a good opportunity to maintain my writing productivity for the week, so I wrote the first draft of a new story for a competition.

Then I reread some old fanfiction and made notes for a possible WIP Big Bang entry.

 

Saturday:

I posted a new story onto Scribophile and did a couple of critiques to earn more points.

I completed a raft of submissions.

Then I spent a couple of hours working on my new Colours plan, tying my brain in knots trying to figure out the new structure and how it affects the already complicated timeline.

 

Sunday:

I reordered the scenes in the existing Colours manuscript, ready to crack on with the rewrite.