Very up-and-down week – Covid put paid to my writing retreat plans but I successfully implemented a new, improved work ethic and got lots done anyway!
Aaaaaaand the morning of supposedly going on writing retreat – I tested positive for Covid!
So, no retreat for me…
On the plus side, my symptoms are so mild as to be nearly non-existent, though I am finding myself getting tired after focusing on work or other stuff for too long.
However, I did manage to edit the next section of the women’s fiction novel (finding some quite big issues with timeline, pacing and plot holes – but luckily the author was grateful rather than annoyed), as well as working through some more of my husband Dave’s comments on my fifth novel, Dividing the Darkness, and making some new notes on my seventh novel, A Wizard Calls My Name.
I also entered a submission for a flash fiction competition.
Both my ongoing client projects (women’s fiction novel and spiritual meditation book) are on hold temporarily and I haven’t got anything new – though a self-help author did get in touch over the weekend (she actually found me by Googling for a developmental editor – result!) about doing dev edits on her first draft, so that should hopefully be coming in soon.
I went through all my electronic and hard-copy notes on Wizard to consolidate them all in one place, review what I have so far, and add a few more snippets of ideas. I’m really looking forward to diving into the first draft before too long.
I went through the next section of Dave’s comments on Darkness, mostly so I could report back in Revision Club later that I had worked on it on three days in the past week (which is technically true) – so apparently the external structure of Revision Club is working!
The actual Revision Club session was awesome, as ever – it’s such a great group of people, and so nice to have regular, weekly contact to follow along with everyone’s progress on their books and get some cheerleading and encouragement.
I also sent emails to a couple more small presses, asking about freelance editing opportunities.
Later, I thought about how disappointed I’ve been with my work ethic in recent weeks and decided to do something about it! I worked out a new ‘work day’ schedule of six hour-long slots and categorised what sort of writing/editing activity should go in each slot. Then, I built a schedule for tomorrow and resolved to sit at my desk and try to do a ‘proper’ day, even without any paid client work.
I almost fell at the first hurdle of the new work ethic plan, by waking up at 7:24am and thinking about just going back to sleep! But I did get up, with the hope of starting ‘work’ at 9am. One of the main problems I’ve been having around getting lots done on a daily basis is that my morning routine has expanded out of all proportion. Back when I was heading into Central London to the office, I could make it from asleep to on the train in 15 minutes – and now it takes me 90 minutes to get out of bed and ready for the day – not sure how that’s happened!
Anyway, it was 9:05am when I sat down to ‘work’ – though there was some faffing about with email and Instagram posting before I actually started the first item on my list – writing short descriptive pieces for the prompts I came up last week for the Writing Club project I’m doing with my husband, Dave. I also decided not to sit at my desk, as it felt too ‘professional’ for purely creative pursuits – plus, I wasn’t sure how to organise my notebook/laptop/coloured pens for Darkness revision planning.
I put quite a lot of effort into the writing prompts, and it took me over half an hour to write 375 words. It’s a good job I’m not setting any hard deadlines for either of my current novel projects – because apparently writing with intention and including a lot of descriptive detail takes me a very, very long time! So, if I want to try and do that in my novels, I’m going to have to manage my expectations about how quickly I can complete a draft.
Then I went back to reading through Dave’s comments on Darkness – this was slow going too, because the helpful ones made me angry (because they meant more work on revisions) and the unhelpful ones also made me angry (just because – unhelpful!), so I had to stop when the emotion started making it hard to tell one type from the other…
To round off the morning session, I emailed ten more small presses about potential freelance editing opportunities and did a couple of submissions to writing competitions.
For my first scheduled activity after lunch (always a tricky time of day for motivation), I chose editing the latest podcast episode, because it’s technical rather than creative. I got a bit distracted by a few things, but managed to edit the first 20 minutes of the episode – which is discussing the 1985 TV mini series, North and South.
I realised that leaving the two activities I’ve been ‘meaning to get back to’ longest till the end of the day might have been foolish – but I persevered and not only completed the long-overdue next instalment of the solo RPG, Her Odyssey, but also started reading a book on small business marketing I bought a while ago.
So, while I didn’t technically ‘work’ for as long as I originally intended on everything, I did manage at least some time on all the things in my scheduled list – and actually got a lot of stuff done after lunch for the first time in ages. So, yay for new work ethic!
Later, Dave and I went through each other’s Writing Club prompts and discussed them, which is still proving interesting and useful.
After working so hard yesterday, I was going to try to avoid early burn-out on my new work ethic plan by having today off. But I actually got some paid editing work to do, so I decided to crack on!
I heard from one of my oldest clients, who sends me a new chapter of his book about twice a year – so I edited the new chapter and sent it back to him for review and approval.
I also started editing a wedding planning journal, which caused a few problems because it was in pdf and I’m still using Dave’s MacBook Air, while my beloved PC laptop is undergoing seemingly endless and unsuccessful repairs… I found a pdf editor that was Mac-compatible but I wasn’t very happy with the way the editing tools worked, so I added notes to the first few pages and sent it back to the client to check if she was happy with it. She was, so I persevered to the end of the first milestone and sent it back to her again for review and approval.
Once I’d finished my paid work, I thought about what else I wanted to achieve today and decided I’d like to finish editing the latest podcast episode, so I prioritised that in the afternoon.
It took two hours for me to get up, get ready for the day, have breakfast and go through email/job pitch opportunities/online community posts, etc, before I could sit down and start work today – which is ridiculous!
Still, I managed to complete my two paid editing projects for the day before lunch – the rest of the wedding journal and the next chapter of the spiritual meditation book, which had appeared overnight.
After lunch, I gave feedback on two different versions of the opening of a novel by one of my previous Revision Club colleagues from two years ago.
To round off the day, I went through some more of Dave’s comments on Darkness and also read some more of the marketing book.
So, I was very happy overall with my new work ethic – though, after doing three ‘proper work’ days in a row (which I don’t think I’ve done since I went part time at my office job about seven years ago), I decided to take the whole weekend off!
Then, a new paid editing project came through after 10pm, so I decided just to do it straight away, so I didn’t have to worry about it over the weekend.
What I forgot was that I’d signed up for a freewriting workshop with Claire from Write For Your Life, which was this morning. I was tempted to wimp out, but I reminded myself that Claire’s workshops are always fun, interesting and produce thought-provoking pieces of writing – and today’s was no different.
Actual day off – hurrah!
Though I did take some time setting up my beloved laptop again (it came back from the repair shop on Friday but there were shenanigans with successfully logging into the Microsoft account so I couldn’t test it until today). The intermittent sound fault used to kick on after about ten minutes of listening to audio and I’ve now played about two hours of music and videos with no problems – so maybe it’s finally fixed?