It’s the first week back to work for many of us and, perhaps, you’re already regretting the shiny list of goals and resolutions you made in that hazy, optimistic pause between the third and fourth glass of Baileys. There are many reasons resolutions often (always?) fall by the wayside, but if (like me) you’re determined to make 2015 an amazing, productive year, then you need to accept something right now – you cannot do it all. If there is one thing I’ve learned in my almost-38 years, it’s this: You cannot chase perfection in every area of your life at the same time. Also this: If my house is ‘visitor-ready’ clean, I’m not writing enough. Look at your list of goals again. You don’t have to cull it if you don’t want to, but it might be worth seeing if you really care about each and every one of them. Then, pick one thing off the list and throw all available time and energy at it until it’s done. Also, for the sake of balance, kick something OFF your list. Something that you already do during a normal week: Ironing is a good one to chuck (sadly, I’ve never ironed so this one doesn’t work for me). Watching television or playing video games is another possibility. Or, you could cut down on your gardening/cleaning/tidying/scrapbooking/socialising. I have a terrible tendency to try to do All The Things and my goal-list for the year is ambitious to say the least. Still, I’ve taken my own advice and have (regretfully) resigned from Novelicious to make room for a new project I have planned. It’s terrifying to turn down paid work (particularly work which I enjoy so much!), but that terror is going to push me to overcome the nerves I have over my new project – as well as freeing time and head-space in order to make it possible. At least, that’s my theory! So, how about you? What will you give up in 2015 in order to achieve your goals? [Image Credit: John Levanan, Lamp, typewriter and specs…]
Apologies for the radio silence, I’ve been busy with summer holiday stuff (lots of lovely visitors, days out and family time) and with – pause for drum roll – Finishing The Book! Hurrah!
It is, of course, not really finished. There will (possibly several) rewrites, but it’s an achievement nonetheless. I can’t quite believe I’ve typed The End on another book-shaped thing.
I’m letting it ‘rest’ while my agent reads it and have been getting stuck into other projects. Top of the list is a short story for a charity anthology. I decided to revisit Iris Harper (who you may remember from The Language of Spells) and I’m having a blast!
It’s the last day of the summer holidays here and there is a decidedly autumnal nip in the air. I’m up to my neck in school bags and uniforms and am feeling ambivalent about the new term. On one hand, I shall have more time in my writing shed but I know I shall miss my children and the long, lazy summer days. Sigh.
I hope you had/are having a truly excellent summer and, as always, thank you for reading.
1. For many writers (both aspiring and professional), November means one thing: NaNoWriMo. I’ve previously established that 50,000 words in a month is utterly beyond me, but I’m still setting myself a writing challenge. Read about it here and feel free to join me!
2. I also wrote about NaNoWriMo for Novelicious.
4. In addition to stationery and writing challenges, the change in season has brought something else to the front of my mind: knitting. After a break over the spring and summer, I’ve picked up the pins again and started a new project. (This pattern, in case you’re interested.)
5. Contrary to the weather, I’ve just started Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell. I’m a big fan of her writing, so have high hopes… I’ll report back later!
[Image Credit: Free Digital Photos]
Last week I heard back from my lovely editor re. the first draft of book two. It’s a follow-up to The Language of Spells and I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to match the tone or ‘voice’ of the first book, or that my editor wouldn’t like the central idea or something equally fundamental.
However, all is well. She likes it! Plus, I have a list of excellent editorial comments and suggestions to help me with draft two. Yay!
I decided I ought to take my own advice, so last week I started stage two of the editing process. (Head here to read my piece on it for Novelicious).
This stage involves looking at the big picture and thinking about the major structural, character and story changes.
I printed out the manuscript and armed myself with post-it notes and coloured pens (stationery!) and the obligatory cup of tea. I read through the book and summarised each scene using colour-coded sticky notes for each POV character.
It’s a technique I’ve used before and, my goodness, it’s effective. You can see at a glance whether you’ve got a serious imbalance with your POVs (um, yes) and, with a quick read of your scene summaries, you get a sense of the overall structure and story line. For an outline-free ‘pantser’ like me, it’s essential, and enables me to see plot holes and inaccuracies with painful clarity.
So. Now that I’ve identified the problems, I just have to fix them. Easy. (Yes, that is the sound of nervous laughter you can hear…)
It’s fingers to keyboard, here, and will be for the next six weeks as the deadline for the follow up to The Language of Spells looms.
In other news, my writing column this week is about Chasing Silence.
It’s the last stop on my blog tour and I’m with fellow Carina author, Katlyn Duncan, giving a mini-tour of my writing room.
My writing column at Novelicious this week gives a brief overview of the classic three act structure for novels and screenplays.
The always-brilliant Keris Stainton has written about her writing process here.
Neil Gaiman is as thoughtful, kind and truthful as always in his post on the loss of Iain Banks.
It’s been so much fun, but very ‘me, me, me’, and I apologise to those who might be getting sick of me mentioning my book. I’m going to stop very soon.*
But now publication day is over, the book is out and I need to get back to work. I have a fairly tight deadline for the follow up to The Language of Spells and I need to knuckle down. Especially considering the kids only have another four weeks of school before the long summer holday… Eep!
In the spirit of refocusing on writing, I’ve got a few writing-craft links to share. Hope you find them useful.
YA author, Natalie Whipple, has written a great piece on using description.
Emma Darwin’s clear and useful post on the benefits of using Scrivener for creative writing.
Sarah Beth Durst examines the tricky art of opening a story. The Writer’s Toolbox: First Lines.
My writing column for Novelicious this week is, appropriately enough, all about writing advice.
Oh, and I’m also on my publisher’s website talking about using collage and casting the characters in The Language of Spells.
* Soon-ish, anyway. Sorry.
I’m finding it very helpful at the moment… Although, for me, ‘every noon’ equals a comfortingly vague ‘later’.
I hope you all have a super Monday and, if you require a little more distraction, I’m over on Novelicious today talking about the importance of world building.
[Image Credit: The Quote Factory]
Meep! My publisher (I’ll never get tired of saying that) has announced me on their website. There’s an article about ‘my journey to publication‘, too. (I left out most of the meeping… Trying to sound professional, yo).
If you want more of my blether, I’m also on Novelicious talking about using collage to help you write your novel.
Re. The April Challenge: Um… Yeah. I’m getting back to it today. That’s all I’m saying. This GIF (from Title2Come) will give you an idea of my progress over the last few days.
[Sorry, no picture. Check out this GIF on Title To Come for an accurate representation of the way I look at the moment.]
I’m at zero draft stage with my new book so every writing session is riddled with questions. Who are these people? What do they want? Why is my main character being so snappy? Who should I shut in a cupboard until they get bored and start snogging? Why is there a dead body in the hotel room?*
I jump into every book with only the vaguest sense of story and trust that my subconscious will deliver the goods. Of course, that also means that every word I put down will most likely be moved, rewritten or cut. But, and here’s what I needed to remind myself of this morning; every single wrong word needs to be written so that I can swap it for the right one later.
Right. Back to it.
(In case you’d like more of my rambling, I’m over on Novelicious today, talking about techniques for Staying Motivated.)
* I was stuck on Friday and it seemed like a good idea at the time.