Subscribe by RSS:

Posted on 18 August 2019 17:44

Summary:

Second seven-day writing week in a row - apparently, I’m turning into Stephen King! I completely disagree with his view that you have to write every day to be a “proper” writer, but I’ll go along with my brain’s enthusiasm if that’s what it actually wants to do!

 

Monday:

I went to a highly entertaining Write For Your Life session, run by the lovely Claire. The theme for the evening was sleep and we counted sheep, explored our attitudes towards sleeping, and wrote a letter to our pillow. It was lots of fun and a great way to play around with writing.

 

Tuesday:

I met Hannah after work and started my space opera version of Snow White for an upcoming anthology submission.

 

Wednesday:

I sandwiched a writing session at Picturehouse Central between an osteopathy session and a gaming session. I wrote this month’s GYWO discussion, then finished the first draft of my Snow White story and sent it to Dave for feedback. I ended my session with another drabble for this month's Black Hare Press competition. 

 

Thursday:

I met Ann at Cafe Piazza and spent some time updating and consolidating my projects list. Then I wrote a blog post about developing a podcast. I wrote a couple of reviews and did some critiquing on Scribophile with a view to posting one of my recent stories for feedback. Then I edited an existing story I’ve been trying to get published for some time, so that it would fit the word count of an upcoming competition it’s really well suited for.

After I got home, I watched the first assigned piece of media for the podcast and wrote copious notes for the first episode.

 

Friday:

I did a ton of submissions and also typed up all my notes for the first podcast episode.

 

Saturday:

Dave and I worked on developing the podcast, I did a review and also helped Bear with his second post about Norway.

I also did another couple of critiques on Scribophile and posted a story for feedback once I had enough points.

 

Sunday:

I did some more Scribophile critiquing, posted my antagonist introduction scene to Six Month Novel Programme, and did another couple of submissions.

 

Posted on 15 August 2019 09:38

A few weeks ago, I was talking to Dave one evening and said something that made him laugh a lot. Out of the blue, he said, “We’re really funny. We should do a podcast.” I don’t think he was being serious, but the idea took root in my brain and just would not let go.

 

I kept thinking about it and bringing it up in conversation, but while Dave wasn’t against the idea, we didn’t come up with any concrete plans for a while. Then, last week, while we were in Norway, we started talking about it properly and came up with a concept. We decided we would take turns to make each other watch media we love that the other one dislikes or has no interest in, and then discuss our reactions. I said we should call the show For Better Or Worse.

 

On a whim, I checked Spotify and it turns out there’s already a podcast where a married couple make each other watch media they love that the other one dislikes or had no interest in, and then discuss their reactions. And it’s called For Better Or Worse…

 

Back to the drawing board!

 

In the meantime, I remembered that one of my favourite podcasters, Kristen Meinzer of By The Book, was bringing out a how-to guide called So You Want To Start A Podcast. It was released that same week, so I downloaded the Kindle version and read the whole thing in three days, making copious notes along the way.

 

Amusingly, Kristen says it’s important to know why you want to start a podcast, and that a particularly bad reason is, “because my friend Dave and I are really funny”! Apparently, either Kristen is speaking directly to us in her book, or ‘my friend Dave and I’ are wildly unoriginal in our thought processes… Hey ho.

 

Spurred on by further discussion, excellent advice from Kristen’s book, and my own experience of the format of podcasts I enjoy, I believe we have now established a good plan.

 

In the space of a week, we have developed a concept, a title, and a standard episode outline. I have made show art, found a free-to-use theme tune and written a master script. Dave has purchased microphones and set up both an email and Twitter account for the show. We know what our subject for the first episode is (which I am going to research and make notes on this afternoon) and we’re set to record a test pilot on Saturday!

 

I’m ridiculously excited about the whole thing and have been obsessing over it more than I have about anything in a long time. The amount of thought and effort I’ve put into the project over the last couple of weeks is quite staggering, and I’m really looking forward to getting to grips with the actual recording of an episode.

 

However, I have a feeling that the technology side of things is where our skills and enthusiasm are going to face their greatest test. Achieving good sound quality and editing are probably going to be more difficult and time consuming than we anticipate and the whole project may stall before it really gets going. However, I do have a plan! On a recent reading retreat, I met someone who co-hosts (and produces) an excellent podcast (with amazing sound quality), The Book Club Review - and she has kindly offered to help us out if we run into problems.

 

Despite my over-eagerness, we’re not in a rush to release anything, and Kristen suggests in her book that recording three or four episodes before uploading the first one is a good idea, so you have a buffer in case there are delays in later production. This means that, even if everything goes really well at the weekend, we’re not going to be launching the show for a while. But we’re keen, we have everything in place and we know where to go for help if we need it.

 

So, fingers crossed that our podcast will become a real thing that’s out in the world before the end of the year. Watch this space!

 

Posted on 11 August 2019 17:14

Summary:

Another week where I wasn’t planning on doing much writing, but I ended up doing at least something every day, so my brain is obviously firing on all cylinders!

 

Monday:

I brainstormed a couple of new stories a bit more and looked up an old Hour of Writes entry that could serve as the basis for something longer to fit a submission opportunity.

 

Tuesday:

I did research for both a podcast Dave and I are thinking of doing, and also for an upcoming short story submission.

 

Wednesday:

I came up with a great idea for an upcoming submission opportunity during the night so I wrote extensive notes.

I also wrote some drabbles for a different publication than the usual one.

 

Thursday:

I wrote the script for the podcast Dave and I are developing.

 

Friday:

I wrote some reviews.

 

Saturday:

I tweaked and typed up the proposed script for the podcast.

 

Sunday:

I helped Bear with his first Norway post, reviewed a film and also did some submissions.

 

Posted on 04 August 2019 21:06

Summary:

 

Still feeling more enthused about writing than I expected. Still enjoying getting back to new short pieces after all the time spent on both novels.

 

Monday:

 

I used a tried and tested method of getting some writing done today. I booked a doctor’s appointment at 9:15am and a cinema ticket for 2:20pm and settled myself in a cafe to fill the time in between.

 

I did another Black Hare Press drabble submission, then amended an existing story for a Writing Magazine competition before heading back to drabble land for a different prompt.

 

There’s a story I wrote a while ago, which I love and which got accepted for publication over a year ago. But correspondence with the editor is sporadic and vague. I’ve received and accepted edits, and seen the cover art for the magazine issue with my name listed as a contributor. But I haven’t had a contract, nor have I been paid, nor have I been told the publication schedule. And there’s an upcoming submission opportunity that this story would be perfect for. So, I’ve been thinking about removing it from the first publication and submitting it to the second instead. This morning, though, I had a brainwave - I can very easily take the essential elements but completely rewrite the story without too much effort. I’m going to gender flip it, change the setting and alter a few salient details, to make a whole new story, which means I can keep hoping the first publication will come into being, but still have something to submit to the second, which will better suit their requirements. So I made some notes on my plan.

 

Tuesday:

 

I wrote some reviews.

 

Wednesday:

 

I met Hannah after work and wrote a couple more drabbles. I’m really enjoying these - perhaps a welcome palate cleanser after all the work on the novels so far this year - and I appear to be quite good at them.

 

Then I started the story rewrite for the upcoming submission. I completed a first pass.

 

Sunday:

 

I told Dave about an upcoming submission opportunity and we brainstormed some ideas.





Posted on 28 July 2019 17:05

Summary:

First draft of second novel(la) done! And major progress on a story I’ve been trying to write for about three years. So very happy with my writing this week.

 

Wednesday:

I met Hannah after work, cracked on with Colours and completed the final three scenes to get to the end of the first draft! It’s now a whole thing! Short, but still a thing. And a thing I can now do stuff with. Hurrah!

 

Saturday:

I was going to take the rest of the week off, but I had booked a day’s writing with Out On The Page and didn’t want to cancel at short notice, so decided to go along anyway. It was good to meet other writers and chat about writing experiences. I also completed a pair of linked short stories for a submission opportunity I’d been thinking about, and it was good to get back to short stuff after focusing on the novels for so long.

I dug out an old story to fulfil my prompt for the J/D Ficathon and read through my WIP Big Bang story to ensure it all made sense. Then I wrote a few reviews.

After that, with the whole world of writing at my fingertips and no big projects or hideous deadlines, I went back to the Ritual story I’ve been messing around with for several years and just decided to put words on the page. I accepted it wasn’t going to be the way I envisaged it originally and just went for it, and wrote nearly 2000 words in just over any hour.

 

Sunday:

I posted my WIP Big Bang story. I’m pleased with this one as it’s something that’s been hanging around for a few years, so it was good to finally get it out into the light of day.

 

Posted on 21 July 2019 12:49

Summary:

Very much on the home stretch for the first draft of Colours. I’m looking forward to taking a break from huge projects and working on some smaller stuff for the rest of the year.

 

Monday:

 

I went into town early and ensconced myself at Picturehouse Central with the intention of getting back up to date with the Colours schedule before meeting a friend for lunch. After the subconscious crew had laid out the rest of the outline yesterday, this proved quite easy and I got the next three scenes done very quickly.

 

Tuesday:

 

I went to a useful and informative London Writers' Cafe workshop about showing and telling. 

 

Wednesday:

 

I wrote a review of the film I went to see on Monday. 

 

Thursday:

 

Morning stint at Kahaila on Brick Lane today with Ann.

 

I launched straight into Colours with the idea of getting that out of the way so I could then turn to other things. I bashed out the next three scenes to get back on schedule again. I hit the 50,000 words mark and now only have four more scenes to go!

 

Then I wrote notes for my GYWO discussion post for the month, based on Tuesday’s show/tell workshop. I also brainstormed for an upcoming drabble submission.

 

Sunday:

 

I edited and uploaded my GYWO discussion post. I reviewed two books.

 

I also got an acceptance from an online magazine for one of my stories and recorded an audio version of it to go alongside the published text.

 

Posted on 14 July 2019 20:30

Summary:

The end is definitely in sight for the Colours first draft and I had lots of interesting and useful writing experiences this week.

 

Tuesday:

I met Kate at Highbury Fields and was interviewed for The Book Club Review podcast, then made my way to Canada Water and The Lodge Cafe to use the rest of the day for writing, before a film night at a friend’s house nearby in the evening.

There was a fair amount of faff to begin with until I eventually settled down to write Sunday’s two Colours scenes.

I did this month’s GYWO discussion post, wrote a blog post about the difficulties of first drafts and reviewed the book I finished over lunch, then went back and did the first of today’s two Colours scenes.

Aware of the approaching deadline, I spent some time on my WIP Big Bang story, completing the initial rewrite.

Then I started reading my next writing craft book.

 

Wednesday:

Not enough sleep and lots of effort yesterday left me very unenthused today. But I had arranged to meet Hannah after work so I dutifully turned up and made her my accountability partner, promising that I would complete my scheduled two Colours scenes before being allowed to go home.

The subconscious crew were on fire and had provided me with the bones of the next scene overnight so I ploughed on and completed both scenes with no problem, so then I carried on and did a third to get back on track with my schedule.

 

Thursday:

I wrote a rather pitiful review of a film.

 

Friday:

I wrote another rather pitiful review of a different film.

Then it was off to Mslexicon for the weekend! My workshop today was about Ikigai, the Japanese concept of finding the intersection between what you love, what you’re good at, what you can be rewarded for, and what the world needs. My intersection was on writing and sharing (ideas, life lessons, experiences, stories), which felt right and is encouraging.

 

Saturday:

The morning talk was about plot and pacing and had some useful advice. The afternoon workshop was about concealing rather than revealing, which was also interesting and resulted in me writing the start of a short story I might pursue.

Later, in my room, I wrote the next Colours scene, which was scheduled to be completed on the train yesterday.

 

Sunday:

As I lay in bed this morning, the whole of the rest of Colours suddenly slotted itself together in my head, which was rather wonderful. So I got up and rejigged my outline to fit the new plan, so I wouldn’t forget it.

This morning’s flash fiction workshop mostly made me think that I don’t work hard enough at my flash fiction and that I’m not as good at it as I previously thought. However, I did also write one piece I was really happy with and will submit somewhere - and I also picked up some useful advice on improving my work.

 

Posted on 09 July 2019 13:06

My friend Charlie, who co-runs the Six Month Novel Programme, has a mantra for the writers she helps. When writing a first draft, give yourself permission to be "gloriously craptastic". The most important thing is to get the words down on the page. You can edit later. Because, if you get caught up in doubts, or a desire for unattainable perfection, you’ll never get through it. It’s better to have a flawed thing that exists than a shining masterpiece that only lives in your head.

 

She’s right, of course. But sometimes, taking this approach is easier said than done. At the moment, I’m struggling a bit with the first draft of my second novel. I have a publisher interested in the first one, which is very exciting, and I’ve just sent the latest version of that back to them for a final decision.

 

In the meantime, I’m aiming to complete the first draft of the next one by the end of July, as per the Six Month Novel Programme schedule. But it’s dragging. It’s going to be way too short to be called a novel. The middle section is very saggy. The characters have no idea what they’re doing and I have no idea how to get them to the end. And the ending I have planned feels like a cop-out. I’m treading water, putting down words I don’t think are very good, just to be able to tick a few more scenes off on my checklist.

 

I have so many other things I’d rather be working on. And I’m using the (vital) need for self-care as an excuse not to write.

 

But, while I may not want to write this novel at the moment, I do want it to be written. And the only way that’s going to happen is if I grit my teeth and get the hell on with it. Once the first draft is done, there will be a month of editing boot camp, and I’ll send the first 3000 words off to Amie (Charlie’s partner in crime) for an editorial review. I have a concrete plan for what happens after that. I’ll take a break from the novel, work on other things and then come back to it towards the end of the year. I’ll apply the editing guidance and Amie’s feedback to the rest of the manuscript, and then ask Amie to do a developmental edit of the whole thing. Then I’ll take another break, and schedule coming back to it to apply the further feedback early next year.

 

So, the path is clear. The steps are known. Once I get over the hump and finish the first draft, I can employ external help to figure out what to do with this story. But I have to get the first draft done first. And the only person who can do that is me. So I’d better stop writing blog entries and reviews and get back to it!

 

But what if it’s no good? It’s a first draft - it’s not going to be good. But at least it’ll be there, and I can make it better.

 

Posted on 07 July 2019 17:04

Summary:

Not a huge amount of time, energy or motivation this week, but still some progress. I think sending Artisan off to the publisher last weekend had a knock-on effect on my desire to work hard this week!

 

Monday:

I went to a Write For Your Life workshop, which was wonderful, as always. It was a lot of fun to free-write disposable pieces, instead of worrying about honing novels. I also ended up with one piece I might keep and hone for submission somewhere and spent time with lovely people, some of whom have suggested we meet more regularly, which would be great.

 

Tuesday:

I wrote a book review.

 

Friday:

I got confirmation that three of my five latest drabble submissions had been accepted for publication and I submitted eight more stories to various publications and competitions for consideration.

I completed the next two scenes of Colours, wrote an entry for the AWC Furious Fiction July competition and did a review of a game I played for the first time during the week.

I also went through this month’s Writing Magazine and added new submission opportunities to my rolling spreadsheet.

 

Saturday:

I helped Bear post about our recent trip to Puntcon.

 

Sunday:

I had intended to do a writing session this afternoon but was so exhausted I decided to shift my scheduled writing for today onto Tuesday, when I have a whole day’s session planned.

 

Posted on 30 June 2019 21:51

Summary:

Only two writing days this week, but a major milestone passed, as Artisan has now gone back to the publisher!

 

Friday:

I wrote reviews of the books I read on reading retreat during the week and helped Bear with his post about the trip.

I also went through some more of Dave’s Artisan edits.

 

Saturday:

I tried out an unfamiliar cafe in Enfield first thing and the next two scenes of Colours poured straight out with no trouble at all. I also reviewed the next Family Book Club book.

Later, at home, I went through all the rest of Dave’s comments on Artisan, made the requisite amendments and sent it back off to the potential publisher. All fingers and toes crossed on that one!

 

Posted on 23 June 2019 14:53

Summary:

I have a schedule now for completing Colours by my deadline. Two scenes per writing session. Every session so far, I have started by rewriting my schedule to see if I can give myself the excuse of not doing that day’s scenes. Then I have taken myself to task, knuckled down, and actually produced them with very little problem in a very short amount of time. Sometimes, you need a stick.

 

Monday:

I booked an early osteo appointment for the morning and some theatre tickets for the evening, hoping to inspire myself to work hard on various writing projects during the intervening eight hours.

After departing Hounslow at 11am, I spent an hour on the tube, another hour having lunch, an hour wandering central London in search of a mythical ‘perfect cafe’ (I finally landed in Starbucks!), and then another hour clearing email and scouring my calendar for other writing opportunities to give myself the excuse for not actually getting any writing done today.

At 3pm, I finally opened Part Two of Colours, dragged two more scenes out into the light of day and made a start on a third.

I also wrote a review of a book I finished later in the day.

 

Tuesday:

I set my subconscious crew the task of working on what was supposed to happen next in Colours, giving them the deadline of when I sat down in Ole & Steen near Victoria after work. They came through like champions and I wrote the next two scenes with no trouble.

 

Wednesday:

I wrote a couple of reviews.

 

Thursday:

I got confirmation that one of my articles about writing had been accepted for publication, which was a good start to the day. I read through the proofs they sent me and went back with a minor correction and my bio information.

It was back to Cafe Piazza with Ann today and I got straight to work with the next two scenes of Colours - feels like I’m on a roll!

Then I went for something completely different and wrote some more 100-word drabbles for an upcoming submission opportunity. I really enjoy doing these and it seems like I’m quite good at them.

To continue with the more relaxing side of writing, I went back to my WIP Big Bang story and worked on that for a bit.

I brainstormed ideas for another submission opportunity, digging out some old flash fiction that could be turned into linked stories within the same fictional universe. I also amended another couple of old pieces to fit other submissions.

 

Sunday:

I consolidated my projects list and rewrote my Colours schedule, considered taking the day off and then pointed out to myself that I do want to finish the first draft and there was no reason not to do my allocated scenes for the day. I had primed the subconscious crew earlier in the week and once again they did not let me down. Two more scenes done.

I also reviewed a book I finished earlier in the week, did some submissions and started looking at Dave’s comments on Artisan.

 

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.