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Posted on 28 January 2018 19:03

Summary:

 

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.

Monday:

 

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.

 

Tuesday:

 

I did today’s Detox prompt.

 

Wednesday:

 

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.

 

Thursday:

 

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

 

Friday:

 

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

 

Saturday:

 

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.

 

Sunday:

 

I entered pieces in a couple of competitions, and did the daily word at www.oneword.com.

 

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.

 

XXXXX

 

 

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Posted on 22 January 2018 07:27

Summary:

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.

 

Monday:

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.

 

Tuesday:

I did today’s Detox prompt.

 

Wednesday:

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.

 

Thursday:

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.

 

Friday:

I did today’s Detox prompt.

 

Saturday:

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 www.oneword.com, 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!

 

Sunday:

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

Summary:

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

 

Monday:

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.

 

Tuesday:

I did today’s Detox prompt.

 

Wednesday:

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!

 

Thursday:

I did today’s Detox prompt.

 

Friday:

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.

 

Saturday:

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.

 

Sunday:

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.

 

XXXXX

 

 

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Posted on 08 January 2018 12:12

Summary:

 

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!

 

Tuesday:

 

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.

 

Wednesday:

 

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.

 

Friday:

 

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.

 

Saturday:

 

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.

 

Sunday:

 

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

Summary:

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

 

Wednesday:

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.

 

Friday:

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!

 

XXXXX

 

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Posted on 24 December 2017 20:47

Summary:

 

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!

 

Monday:

 

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.

 

Tuesday:

 

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.

 

Wednesday:

 

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.

 

Thursday:

 

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.

 

Friday:

 

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

 

Saturday:

 

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

 

Sunday:

 

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

Summary:

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

 

Monday:

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.

 

Wednesday:

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.

 

Sunday:

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

 

Posted on 11 December 2017 13:01

Summary:

 

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.

 

Monday:

 

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!

 

Wednesday:

 

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.

 

Saturday:

 

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.

 

Sunday:

 

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!

 

XXXXX

 

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Posted on 04 December 2017 10:02

Summary:

 

Another week where sticking to scheduled writing time has produced excellent results. As ever, it’s not about being in the right frame of mind, it’s about sitting down and just getting the words out onto the page. But why is that so hard, when it’s what I really want to do?

 

Monday:

 

I almost didn’t make it to my writing date with Ann today, but I persevered and managed to get a few hours in.

 

I started, as usual, with reviews, always a good way to settle and focus before moving on to something more in-depth.

 

Then I worked on collating my notes for the new novel, expanding the rough outline I already had with more detail, in preparation for cracking on with the first draft at the weekend. I was still really excited about this story, though I had no concept of how what I had in the outline was going to be transformed into an actual thing. But hey, I figured I would get there one way or another!

 

Wednesday:

 

I spent the whole day snarling at people at work, and nearly texted Hannah to say I couldn’t face our writing date, but I followed the plan not the mood and she actually turned up 90 minutes earlier than usual so we got straight into it.

 

I went through my rough outline for the new novel, assigned all the various sections to one of my POV characters, then interwove the main plot points with the flashbacks/subplots - and it all worked! There were even numbers of Anushka vs Charlotte viewpoint sections, and even numbers of present vs past sections, with an extra section at the end to round everything off. So, it looked like the basic structure was now in place, ready for me to launch into the first draft properly on Friday.

 

I got a rejection from an online sci-fi magazine, but it had an exhortation to try again in capitals in the middle, so I’m assuming they didn’t outright hate my piece. I therefore kept them on my submission spreadsheet, as they have a rolling monthly themed submission window.

 

I went through the Scribophile critiques on my flash fiction piece and made a few amendments here and there. I identified somewhere I could submit it, but also left it in my editing folder because it could easily be expanded in both directions to produce a much longer story, and I really like the scenario.

 

I finished off by brainstorming some ideas for a fantasy romance anthology that really appeals to me, though I don’t think I’ll have enough time to dedicate to it before the deadline.

 

Friday:

 

I set off for a writing retreat weekend with my completed novel outline but no clear idea about how to launch into the actual first draft. I forced myself to write some stuff on the train, so I would already be in flow by the time I arrived, and it worked. I wrote three whole scenes throughout the rest of the day and it felt really good.

 

Saturday:

 

My sense of flow pretty much continued through Saturday. I had to be strict with myself about getting on with the writing, but once I was started it came quite easily. I operated on a schedule of writing two scenes, then taking a break, and completed eight scenes (nearly 4,500 words) during the course of the day. I could definitely have worked harder, but I know doing that just makes me hate it, so I was kind to myself and managed a lot of good progress as well as enjoying the process and the periodic relaxation.

 

I became less certain about this new novel than I was a couple of days before, though. I still loved the story, and I thought the writing was going well. But I was a lot further through the plot than I was expecting at only 7,500 words, so I wasn’t sure if it was going to make the distance to a full novel. I also wasn’t sure if my current structure of 500-word scenes, intercut with flashbacks, was going to work. I thought it might be too bitty, not allowing the reader to get into the story properly. However, I decided these were questions for a much later date. The priority right now is to get it down in first draft - I can see what it is that I’ve got once that’s done.

 

Sunday:

 

Writing was harder today, for some reason. I still knew what came next at the end of every scene (until mid-afternoon, at least) but it was a struggle making myself sit down and get on with it. I pushed myself, though, and did get quite a lot done, which I was pleased with. A break at 3pm for a brief walk and some knitting gave my brain the space to figure out where the story should go next and I ended the day very satisfied with my progress.

 

Posted on 27 November 2017 14:19

Summary:

 

Lots of time spent on writing projects this week, but not much in the way of actual writing. Planning, brainstorming, editing, and typing up notes are all really important things that need to be done, but it never feels like I’m making much progress when I spend time doing them.

 

Monday:

 

Today, I felt as if I hadn’t really achieved much at all in recent times, so I was glad to have a writing date scheduled with Ann. I put together a long list of possible tasks, with three levels of prioritisation, which made me feel as if I was exerting some control in an uncertain world.

 

First up were my editing responsibilities for the second Life Plus 2M anthology. I received two sets of comments from fellow authors, and made amendments to my own story accordingly. I then edited the two subsequent stories in the volume and sent my comments back to the authors and the editor.

 

I completed and posted this month’s GYWO discussion post, which was on techniques for breaking away from the one big writing project that demands all your attention. I have no idea why I said I would write a post on this topic, as this is not something I’ve ever experienced as a problem. I’m very good at ignoring my big writing projects, and actually need techniques for focusing on them, rather than all the short, shiny stuff that distracts me all the time.

 

I caught up on reviews from the weekend - one of my reading retreat prescription books, several games from the convention we went to at the weekend, a gig by my favourite band, and a weird but fun indie film I came across.

 

And finally, I did some more novel planning. It felt like a long time since I’d done any, and I think I need to make sure I work on the new novel more frequently throughout the week, to keep it fresh in my mind. The plot is definitely taking shape but it all feels very ‘broad strokes’ at the moment. I know the overall arc and a lot of what needs to happen, but the details are eluding.

 

 

Wednesday:

 

My writing date with Hannah was nearly derailed because our usual tea shop was closed, but I was lucky to get a table at a different cafe when a couple got up to leave just as I arrived.

 

I made amendments to the airship pirates story I posted on Scribophile last week, based on the very comprehensive comments I received. Then I went through my submissions spreadsheet and found somewhere to send the new version.

 

I did a couple of critiques to get my points up, and posted a piece of flash fiction to Scribophile.

 

I’ve really got back into using Scribophile in recent weeks. It feels good to give people advice on their writing, and it’s really useful to get comments back on my own.

 

 

Saturday:

 

I arranged a writing date with Geena, me arriving as Good and Proper opened at 10am, Geena sensibly taking it more slowly, as we had both been out late the night before.

 

I eased myself in gently by catching up on my reviews. I’d not had much luck with the books I’d chosen this week, with two favourite authors failing to engage me, so I wasn’t feeling very positive on that front, but it was good to have a straightforward writing task to start off the day.

 

I spent quite a while going through an old writing notebook and transcribing the various notes I’d taken at workshops and events, as well as recording bits of ideas that hadn’t been developed yet. I’m never sure about the value of doing this, as I rarely go back and read notes from events, but I’d rather collect and keep them electronically than lose them - plus rereading and recording them might make them stick in my head, and the bits of ideas may come in useful one day.

 

One thing I came across during the above exercise was a whole load of notes for a story I’ve been noodling around with all year. I first had the idea during a Writer’s Block Detox course I did back in January and I’ve been periodically making notes for it ever since, but never actually got round to writing it. So, I collated all the notes for that to see if I could kick-start my brain into thinking about it properly.

 

I helped Geena with a blog post for her Master’s programme in media communications, which was really interesting and made me feel useful.

 

Then my brain died and I had to call a halt to productive output. But I managed about four decent hours of work.

 

Posted on 20 November 2017 14:39

Summary:

 

Not much in the way of writing progress this week - too many fun, social things got in the way!

 

Monday:

 

I helped Bear post his account of our marvellous weekend away at a reading retreat, and then posted my own account as well.

 

Wednesday:

 

I met Hannah for a writing date, and caught up on many reviews.

 

I also made amendments to the story I posted on Scribophile last week, based on the critiques I received.

 

I then posted another story on Scribophile and did a few critiques of my own to move it up the queue to the main spotlight.

 

Posted on 13 November 2017 14:44

At this year’s NAWG-Fest in September, I met Cressida Downing, who was one of the tutors. She also runs reading retreats with her friend, Sara Noel, and I went on one this weekend just gone.

I’ve been to lots of retreats over the last few years - generally for writing - but this was the most luxurious, indulgent, well-catered weekend I’ve ever spent. They really had thought of everything - goody bags full of wonderful gifts, spare essentials in case you forgot to pack anything, reading lights for borrowing, and an amazing range of food, to suit any dietary requirements. As someone with diabetes, I’m used to organisers just assuming I won’t have dessert, and that I’ll forego snacking, which is always rather depressing. Here, though, there were cheese plates to round off each delicious meal, low sugar muesli for breakfast, and both low sugar and savoury snacks, so I felt very well looked-after.

The main purpose of the weekend, of course, was reading. I carve out time in my busy weekly schedule for my writing, but I don’t do the same for reading, so it was glorious to set aside many hours over the course of a weekend to do just that. Cressi called me a few weeks beforehand to talk about my reading, and provided me with a list of recommended books, one of which she lent me over the weekend. I’m not usually very good at concentrating on one thing for long periods of time, so I had packed my usual array of other activities (knitting, writing, TV episodes) but I found them entirely unnecessary. There was something about the atmosphere at the retreat that made me really want to dedicate all my attention to my reading, and I never felt the need to take a break and do something else.

Obviously, there were welcome interruptions in the form of meals, and Cressi offered optional walks on both days (which I did take and very much enjoyed). Cressi and Sara were always available in the kitchen for conversation and very attentive provision of refreshments. But I was at my happiest, curled up in an armchair in the lounge, with up to three of the other attendees, just reading, reading, reading and reading some more. There’s something very companionable about sharing a space with other people who are all reading, and I loved every minute of it.

I got through 850 pages across 15 hours of reading at the cottage (in stints of 2-4 hours at a time), and then read another 200 pages on the 2.5 hour journey home. I completed three books, and thoroughly enjoyed all of them.

Reading is so important for writers, but it’s also wonderful just to relax and give yourself over to a book. I’ve already booked my place on the next retreat in February, and would highly recommend any other book-lover to do the same.

XXXXX

 

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Posted on 13 November 2017 13:44

Summary:

Reading has been the order of the day this week, though I’ve also done quite a bit of planning for the new novel, which I’ve found really useful.

 

Tuesday:

I missed my usual writing date because I had to work on Monday, so I pledged to work on the new novel every evening this week to make up for it.

Today, I added a section to the third scene, to give the protagonist some dialogue. I then carried on with the Six Month Novel Programme workbooks, which gave me some new plot ideas and deepened my understanding of the main characters.

 

Wednesday:

I added some character detail to the second scene of the new novel, and carried on working through the Six Month Novel materials. I’ve never done this amount of planning for a project at the start before, and it’s definitely helping cement the world in my mind and develop the characters in interesting ways.

 

Friday:

More planning for the new novel, exploring different plot points and subplots.

 

Saturday:

I read some more of Wonderbook and made notes.

I had an epiphany about the main arc of the new novel - at core, it's not an action adventure but a love story and that's the arc it should follow.

 

Posted on 05 November 2017 20:49

Summary:

So, it turns out that if I have more time, I do get more stuff done on writing projects, as evidenced by the fact that I had this week off work, and have done project stuff on six out of seven days.

 

Monday:

Today required some personal dedication on my part. I had a three hour gap between two appointments in town, so I found a cafe, bought some coffee and got on with some projects.

I made final edits to the cafe story, based on comments from my Write Club buddies, which were much more incisive than those I received from Scribophile. It’s useful to get a range of opinions, though, and I think the story has been much improved by the additional editing. I gave it a final read-through to make sure it still made sense, and then it was finally ready to submit.

Then I discovered (as I had for one of the competitions I entered the day before) that it needed to be sent in hard copy, which led to a printing/posting scramble. It seems very odd, in this day and age, that hard copy entries are required, since it must make administrating the competitions much more difficult. Hey ho.

I spent two hours submitting pieces to seven more places - phew! This really does take up a lot of time, but hopefully will garner some publications.

 

Tuesday:

I moved my usual writing date with Ann to today. We met at our new regular, Good and Proper, at 11am, and I embarked on my list for the day. First up was a reviews catch-up, always a good way to ease me into working gently.

Then I launched into the expansion of a short story I wrote a very long time ago, and which I received some useful feedback on last month. I added a new section, then posted the whole thing on Scribophile to get more comments on it.

I did a couple of Scribophile critiques to get my karma points up and speed my story into the spotlight.

I went through this month’s Writing Magazine and circled all the interesting-sounding submission opportunities, of which there were quite a few.

I then decided I wouldn’t feel satisfied with myself unless I made some progress on the new novel, so I dragged the third scene out of my brain, kicking and screaming. It wasn’t my best work, but it introduced some of the central plot points in what I hope is an intriguing way, and at least it was words on the page.

I started a spreadsheet to keep track of characters and plot points as I go, since I’m working from a very rough outline that doesn’t have a lot of detail yet.

That brought me to a solid five hours of work for the day, which felt really good.

Bear accompanied me on my writing date today so, when we got home, I helped him post the photos he took, even though he has grossly misrepresented my productivity on writing dates!

I also got news that a Canadian publisher wants to record the short story that eventually became the first novel on their podcast, which is exciting!

 

Wednesday:

I edited the podcast story as per instructions from the publisher, and sent it back to them along with a bio, an author photo, and a list of my publications. 

I added this month’s list of submission opportunities from Writing Magazine to my rolling spreadsheet.

I gave the first 1,500 words of the new novel to Geena to read and she came up with some great ideas for story and character development.

 

Thursday:

I read out the first 1,500 words of the new novel to my parents over lunch, which highlighted some repeat phrasing I hadn’t noticed until I heard it aloud. Very good lesson there!

 

Friday:

I collected all the workbooks from the Six Month Novel Programme and started completing them for the new novel. I also set myself a deadline for completing the first draft, which is provisionally the end of May 2018, as I’d like to be able to say I’ve got something mostly done when I meet agents at Winchester Writers’ Festival in June 2018.

No harm in being ambitious, right?

 

Sunday:

I added some new submission opportunities to my rolling spreadsheet.

I posted reviews of the film, two plays, and two new games I experienced throughout the week.

I did a detailed critique on Scribophile to build up my points and get my current story closer to the spotlight.

I submitted two stories to paying publications for consideration.

I also read through the first 1,500 words of the new novel and fixed the couple of repeated bits I found on Thursday.

 

Posted on 30 October 2017 11:25

Summary:

 

Bits and pieces, here and there throughout the week. It didn’t feel like I was doing a lot, but what I did was useful and progressed several projects. And at least I kept my brain ticking over and working on stuff.

 

Monday:

 

I took myself off to Good & Proper quite early today, and managed to stay for five hours, with Ann joining me for the last three.

 

I wasn’t quite as focused as the day before, despite my schedule, but I wrote the second scene of the new novel and discovered quite a liking for the initial antagonist, who is going to end up being much more of a main character that I had planned.

 

I did several critiques on Scribophile to build up enough points to post another story whenever I want, and also received some useful comments on the cafe story.

 

I also typed up more snippets and notes from one of my completed notebooks, discovering the start of a story I began at Moniack Mhor last December, which I had completely forgotten about.

 

Wednesday:

 

I had a great discussion with Hannah about our current writing projects, and also did another Scribophile critique, to try and get my cafe story closer to the spotlight. I’m remembering how much time and effort has to go into getting the most out of Scribophile, but I think it will still be useful to post stories there from time to time. It’s also a good thing to keep on my task list, so I can do critiques here and there to keep my points level up for when I need it.

 

 

Sunday:

 

I went along to Let’s Write Together, which I haven’t done in many weeks. It turned out to be very useful, as I didn’t feel very motivated to do anything earlier in the day, and the two hours spent with Nil prompted me to edit the cafe story, based on the comments in the five critiques it had garnered on Scribophile.

 

I also submitted entries to three different competitions - one for the novel, one for flash fiction, and one for travel writing. So I’m keeping my diversification up!

 

Posted on 22 October 2017 17:55

Summary:

Two official writing days instead of one resulted in masses of stuff accomplished.  Go figure.

 

Monday:

I met Ann for our usual writing date.

I started with this month’s discussion post for GYWO, which had the title:

"Feast or Famine: the pressure of fan expectations when your work seems to be doing too well VS when you feel like your work is largely ignored and you need to keep motivated."

I wrote what I thought was a helpful post, talking about inner motivation and not basing your satisfaction in your writing entirely on how other people react to it.  But several writers responded that they prefer not to be told why they should or shouldn’t be writing, which is absolutely fair enough!

I then completed a few reviews, including those for the October Wordy Birds Reading Challenge category, which was a book by an author I’d met.

I was feeling a bit de-motivated by this point, but I decided to press on, and ended up completing a total re-write of the cafe story that had been accused of being more of an anecdote.  I shifted it from first to third person, added in more dialogue, upped the emotion in places and generally tried to make it more like a short story in terms of drama and arc.  I was pretty pleased with the result, but I’ve still got time to do another pass at the weekend before I have to submit it.

 

Wednesday:

I did a Bear post about our adventures at the weekend on the Rustington Out of Bounds Adventure Golf Course.

 

Saturday:

I went to a London Writers’ Cafe event, where everyone had submitted the first 300 words for a professional editor to give feedback on.  Each author read out their piece and then the editor gave brief comments on both good things and areas that could be developed.  It was really interesting to hear other people present their work and there was a huge range of style and genre in the thirty submissions.  The editor found something positive to say about everyone’s work, and gave some useful feedback on things to think about, but didn’t seem have much to say about mine, so I didn’t find the session particularly valuable overall.  Always good to meet other writers, though!

 

Sunday:

Today was an Urban Writers Retreat day, which is always a good way to get things done, since it runs from 10am to 5:30pm and nobody is allowed to talk, except for a brief period at lunchtime.

I read through the cafe story and made a few edits, but still wasn’t sure it entirely worked, so I sent it to my Write Club buddies for evisceration, as there were still nearly ten days to go until the competition deadline.

I edited a short reflection on the importance of Stanley Park in Vancouver for my mental health, which is for a competition about how particular places in the world have affected you.

I did another pass on the short story I’m trying to lengthen to fit a Writing Magazine competition and managed to hit the right word count, hopefully without diluting the tension too much.

That took care of the three main things on my list, and it was only 11:30am, so I logged onto Scribophile for the first time in months and did a critique (prompted by Ann asking me about the site last week, which reminded me I hadn’t used it in ages).  Then I sat and stared at my list for a while, feeling like the admin tasks would be a waste of valuable time, and the big projects were too daunting a prospect to launch into - so I wrote a blog post about my dilemma!

Then, I used the goal-setting worksheet Charlie always provides for Urban Writers Retreat days (which I had not filled in for today) and made a proper plan for the afternoon, and also for tomorrow.  After that, I felt much better and ready for lunch.

After lunch, I did more Scribophile reviews until I had enough points to post the cafe story for some additional, more varied feedback.

Then I finally broke new ground on what used to be the comic book idea, and which now has a working title of Changing Colours.  I wrote the opening scene, and it felt quite exciting to be starting a new long-form project.  Lots and lots and lots of work ahead on that one, though!

Next on the list was finally getting round to collecting stuff I wanted to keep from my completed project notebooks.  I picked the oldest and set to finding and typing up the relevant information.  The notebook dated back to January 2016 and contained my notes for about a year.  it was really interesting to look back on what I was doing during that time, and I picked up notes for a possible fanfiction, as well as my observations from rereading Perdido Street Station from the point of view of learning how to be a better writer.

The last thing on my list was to brainstorm some ideas for a new short story, based on a prompt for an upcoming competition.  I did a tarot reading for some initial thoughts and then did some free writing around the idea in my new notebook, ending up with a skeleton outline to work on more tomorrow..

Overall, the morning felt very scattered and as if the time was stretching out before me with no end in sight.  The afternoon was incredibly focused, and disappeared in a flash, leaving me wishing I had more time to work on stuff.  The only difference?  A plan for what I was going to do throughout the day!