Diary of a freelance writer, 24 September 2015

10 minutesSorry this is a day late this week. I had an inadvertent day off. You’ll notice a repeat picture too, more on that further down.

How did you get on with your homework last week? I got a bit busy again with a couple of heavy edits/proofreads, so didn’t do as much as I’d like on my own work.

On Wednesday I started a new book on writing short stories. It’s another Teach Yourself book that I saw while I was writing last week’s diary, and I thought I had it somewhere already … and there it was, unread, on my bookshelf in the study.

When I usually read these books, I tend to do the exercises as I go along, but then I run out of time or motivation, or something else comes up, and I abandon them. So I decided to read this short stories book all the way through, and then go back and do the exercises – just like it suggests in the opening. And I’m getting through it a lot quicker.

I also managed an hour of study, and completed module 8 of my fiction writing course. Just one more module to go and I can start the next assignment.

Thursday I instigated some credit control and chased a payment I was waiting for. My due date was 28 August, but as it was a new client, I thought I’d give them chance to set me up as a new account before complaining too loudly.

I read more of the book on writing short stories, and I also started to read the book on writing young adult fiction in much the same way, and I’m getting through both much quicker than normal, but still utilising things that I’m learning. For example, the young adult book suggested writing just 5 ideas for stories each day for 7 days, and I did start to do that on Thursday.

Errands day is back to Fridays again, and this time I had one errand in the morning, one in the middle of the day, and another at the end of the day. But the end of the day brought itself forward to the middle of the day and I had to abandon my original middle of the day errand – I do usually lump them all together, honest.

In between errands I wrote another 5 ideas for short stories, and I read more of my 2 writing books.

Hmm.  I don’t actually seem to be doing much writing – but these days were all filled with a heavy proofread.

On Saturday, we had personal errands to run and the poet had a gig Saturday evening. But I still wrote out 5 ideas.

On Sunday he was fishing in a match, and I had hoped to get a lot more work done then. I managed lots more reading, and there are lots of things percolating away in the background now. I even started to think about NaNoWriMo, and there’s another whole month before that starts but I may use October as planning and prep time.

I didn’t do any ideas on Sunday. I need to carry on with that soon. I’ll have a 10-minute blast later … (see below)

On Monday I had another heavy edit to carry on with, and a follow-up new patient check at the doctors.  I also chased that overdue payment again, and finally got to speak with someone. Another overdue account was finally settled, but it was much, much smaller than this one. It was also much, much more overdue – about 6 weeks overdue. Tut tut.

The errand that got postponed on Friday was delivering the heavy proofreading job I’d just finished. I had hoped to drop it in another time, but by the end of Tuesday, I decided it would be easier to just post it special delivery. They should have had it back by 1pm the following day.

I read a bit more, but I also carried on with that other heavy edit. I need to be more disciplined with my own work again.

The overdue payment I’ve been chasing finally hit my bank account today. That’s good. It meant I didn’t have to set the business manager onto them! 😉 It was a biggie, though, and I’ve been waiting for it for a long time. So when it finally arrived, I had a lot to go out and buy. That’s why I had an inadvertent day off yesterday. I didn’t expect it to take ALL DAY. But it pretty much did. It felt good, though.

Ten minute blasts
WRITE A NOVEL IN TEN MINUTES A DAY is a book I promised myself as soon as the next person paid me. So once that first payment came in on Monday, that’s what I did. It’s a good book (so far), but not so much about “write a novel in ten minutes a day”, more “write a novel in ten-minute bursts, at least once a day if you can”.

Now then, I’ve always been an advocate of 10-minute writing sprints, or 10-minute proofreading sprints, or 10-minute editing sprints. I used to use the kitchen timer, but then I downloaded the clockwork tomato app for my phone, which you can tailor to suit your preferences. (The i-phone will no doubt have an equivalent.) But I’ve never used it to do 10-minute housework sprints.

The author, Katharine Grubb, claims that she can empty and refill a dishwasher in just 10 minutes, or she can put a washload on or make a bed.

So this morning, I timed some of my own household chores. In my first 10 minutes, I was able to empty the dishwasher and put everything away, but because I filled it and started it last thing last night, there wasn’t much to put in there just yet. So I looked around for something else to fill my 10 minutes. I also put a washload on, filled the washing up bowl with a couple of things that can’t go in the dishwasher, cleared up the paraphernalia left behind by the poet whenever he gets up to go to work, distributed 3 loo rolls to the downstairs toilet, and made my breakfast – okay, cereal and fruit juice, but even so …

Then, when I’d had my breakfast, I had another 10 minutes. This time I distributed the remaining 6 loo rolls between the other 2 loos, upstairs, made the bed, fed 3 pets, topped up the bird feeders, and I got dressed.

I usually have half an hour in the morning and half an hour at the end of the day to do housework (the end of the day is good for fetching washing back in or bringing back the dustbins). But if I can sneak in just 6 x 10-minute sessions to my normal working day, that might give me a whole extra hour slot in which to schedule some work. And if I can apply it to work and to Facebook/Email time too, I may see an increase in production.

As ever, I’ll keep you informed.

Here is your homework for this week:

  1. Does anyone owe you any money? Chase them for it now. Start with an email and be prepared to follow it with a phone call if you get no joy. Know that you can threaten bad payers with the small claims court, and that you can legally charge both interest and admin fees on late payments.
  2. Have you tried writing – or anything – in 10-minute bursts? I call it a 10-minute writing sprint. Using the timer on your phone, or a kitchen timer, or download an app, do it now. Write free for just 10 minutes and see what happens.
  3. What else can you do in 10 minutes? Time yourself doing chores or job-related work and see how much you can achieve in just 10 minutes.
  4. Oh yeah, and do a bit more writing than I managed this past week …

Don’t forget to let us know how you get on.


2 thoughts on “Diary of a freelance writer, 24 September 2015

  1. Between this and Gigor Mortis my head is spinning! However I have got on with the novel, quite productively if not a huge amount of words. A busy weekend lies ahead as my sister is coming to visit and we are touring Wentworth Woodhouse. Have a good one yourselves.


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